How to launch a successful reseller incentive programme


According to Forrester, almost three-quarters (73%) of all the world’s trade is carried out through reseller channels or via indirect sales. This highlights the power of independent resellers and demonstrates just how much they can influence a customers’ buying behaviour, build customer relationships and drive buying decisions.

This article explains everything businesses need to know about launching a successful reseller incentive programme with partners to ultimately reach sales targets, achieve business growth and meet strategic goals.

We cover:

  • What is a reseller incentive programme?
  • The benefits of an effective reseller incentive strategy
  • How to deliver an incentive programme
  • Reward ideas to incentivise resellers

What is a reseller incentive programme?

A reseller incentive programme, which can also be referred to as a channel partner incentive programme, is a strategy that clearly sets out the tactics and methods that a business will use to achieve high sales figures and ultimately grow its client’s business.

Think of it in this way: Microsoft provides an independent reseller with sales incentives that will help support them to meet and secure company goals and sales targets.

The incentives can be anything from gift cards, discounts and rebates based on volume – we come on to all of the different options later!

So what is a partner? Channel partners are classified as affiliates, resellers, distributors, independent retailers, and any other value-added provider. Essentially a channel partner is anyone that sells your product or service, on your behalf, who doesn’t work directly for the business.

The channel partners will vary for each business. They will depend on the business’ market, company goals, strategic goals and the sales figures they want to reach. Partners don’t necessarily have to be in the same industry as your business in order to be successful. The key is how you work with them.

The most effective way to ensure your reseller partners are putting your brand above the competition is by implementing an effective reseller incentive programme.

What are the benefits of a reseller incentive programme?

There’s no need to question whether businesses can benefit from effective reseller incentive initiatives. It’s reported that reseller incentive programmes can increase revenue by up to 32%.

An effective reseller incentive strategy will give partners added value to sell more of your products which can boost your sales figures, fuel business growth, all while potentially decreasing the need for in-house spend on sales staff, sales leaders and marketing.

Resellers can also provide you with access to new markets. When a reseller incentive programme is launched successfully, the programme will benefit both parties and increase profits for both. A win-win situation.

Incentive programs often become a pillar in a business’ marketing strategy however, it’s important that businesses don’t become focused on using it to solely increase sales. The reality is that there are many other benefits of starting an incentive programme for resellers. These include:

1. Builds rapport and solid relationships with partners

Offering incentives to your partners opens a new channel of communication with them. Partners want to hear from you, and inevitably that builds rapport. The incentives you offer are valuable in motivating their staff and that means you’re keeping your partner’s senior management team engaged which is a great way to ensure your programme has longevity with them.

2. Access to other businesses

Typically, resellers and other partners will work with other brands, which could potentially open up new opportunities. Especially if they’re motivated to do well for you. The resellers could ‘co-brand’ you with another company. In this scenario, your product or service is sold to compliment another brand, or as an upgrade - and vice versa.

3. Encourages partners to become an extension of your team

Resellers are part of your business - they are an extra arm of your sales team and just like onboarding a new employee, if you provide your channel partners with your brand guidelines, training material and best practices, they can sell effectively on your behalf. And good resellers and sales leaders will take it all on board. With incentives it adds a bit of reassurance that they’ll follow the script - making sure the sales are made.

4. Drives new opportunities

Using reseller incentives is a brilliant way to get your brand in front of a new market, or customer base, which can significantly increase your visibility both locally and globally. For example, if you work with a large channel partner with multiple locations in Europe and you’re a small start-up operating in London, the network of your partner could be an opportunity to reach an untapped market and incentives will drive that.

5. Encourages partners to fully invest in your success

When an incentive partner programme produces positive sales results, it means the business’ product or service becomes vital to your reseller’s success which reinforces positive brand interaction with your channel partner.

6. Can reduce costs

When your incentive programme works effectively, it can reduce the business’ costs. Why? Because you can depend on your partner’s sales staff to grow your business while avoiding significant investment in marketing and advertising, which is typically expensive.

Tips for implementing a reseller incentive programme

To ensure the reseller incentive programme does what it sets out to do there are eight key tips to consider. They are:

1. Set the action that will be rewarded

Businesses must decide on what selling process they want to reward and then make it crystal clear to resellers what will secure that incentive. This will determine what action they need to take for their network of customers. For example, you could reward them for selling a certain product range or service, retaining customers, or the reward might be based on volume e.g. ‘buy x amount and receive a £50 gift card’.

2. Choose the incentive

Once you’ve agreed what will be rewarded, the business then needs to decide what the incentive should be. The types of incentive available are varied - more on that in the following section - but it is typically financially driven.

3. Make it clear

It’s vital that resellers can easily understand the programme, particularly what it is they need to do and what it is that is on offer. Complicated reseller incentive programmes will inevitably cause problems and create unnecessary barriers to achieve what the resellers need to do which can impact sales performance.

4. Strike the right balance

To motivate resellers to take part in your incentive programme, it’s important that rewards are achievable, but not too easy. The balance is creating a reward that is challenging, but realistic.

Rewards ideas to incentivise resellers

Our business knows first-hand what incentives motivate channel partners and resellers - we’ve been implementing these types of programmes for almost two decades. Using our knowledge, we’ve listed the top 5 rewards proven to drive desirable results.

1. Prepaid cards

Prepaid cards are a customisable payment solution that can be used for a variety of reasons, including reseller incentives. When it comes to using prepaid cards as an incentive tactic for employees, a Harvard study showed employees were on average 31% more productive and achieved 37% more sales when they received incentives and rewards for their ongoing efforts. We offer a range of prepaid cards for incentives which can be used like any other credit or debit card, online and in store, with contactless where available.

2. Retail gift cards

It’s reported that multi-brand gift cards are the most successful rewards among B2B incentive programmes, since corporates prefer to provide the freedom of choice to their employees or clients.

At Blackhawk Network, we provide reseller packages and white label services that enable businesses to sell our gift cards to its customers. Our gift cards range from single to multi-retailer options and can be spent in hundreds of popular retail outlets, including John Lewis, M&S and Pizza Express.

Our One4all gift card has a maximum value of £120, which makes it a favourite for smaller, more regular, rewards. Your resellers can choose their own reward and be given it in a physical or digital format, and there’s also the ability to brand the cards with your company’s logo and preferred design.

3. Rebates

This type of incentive is the most common incentive structure which focuses on volume promotion, to encourage your reseller partner to sell more of your product or service. The reward offered is a percentage of the sale back and typically, your partner programme must meet an objective, for example, sell a certain number of units for the customer to receive the incentive.

4. Discount gift vouchers

We also offer the opportunity to incentivise resellers with discounts on everyday purchases through our voucher store. Why should businesses consider discounts as an incentive? Because, according to research, 79% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with a brand if it offers discounts tailored to their past interactions. Our online, easy-to-access-store is full of discounted gift cards from some of the nation’s largest retailers.

5. E-codes

E-codes are a way of offering instant rewards and are a proven effective reseller incentive mechanism because they allow organisations to provide a timely reward that encourages and reinforces desired behaviours (that we talked about earlier in the post). At Blackhawk Network, we can deliver eGift codes directly to your resellers or provide them to you in bulk to distribute. The recipients will then go to a redemption website to swap their code for the eGift they want.

Want support with your reseller incentive programme? Get in touch by filling out the contact form on the right or calling 0203 372 0669.

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