Channel Marketer Report


How To Design A Successful Pilot Program (And Why You Need To)

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 10.33.43 AMBy Dan Hawtof, Blackhawk Engagement Solutions

Oftentimes, you need to build a business case in order to get funding for your channel incentive program. A test program is an effective way to win over skeptics and earn executive buy-in for your initiative. Plus, you’ll gain invaluable project management data that can help you roll out the program on a broader scale.

By creating a basis to forecast program costs and assess business impact, you’ll be in a position to eliminate much of the trial-and-error guesswork, and adapt key findings to improve upon. Conversely, if you choose to proceed directly to full-blown program launch, you may discover — too late — shortcomings in the original design that could have been mitigated.

Not All Pilot Programs Are Created Equal

A well-designed test program starts by identifying objectives and key performance indicators (KPI). Obvious as it may be, many companies fail to capitalize on this crucial step. Objectives should be clearly defined, with quantitative goals set for each objective. It is critical to the success of your program.

Take It Step-By-Step

Next, you’ll need to understand the competitive landscape, identify your test group and align testing with real-world scenarios. The goal of a pilot program is to limit the amount of variables between your test and program launch — as much as possible. Design your incentives to “meet or beat” similar programs offered by competitors. Also, make sure your test group is a good representation of your overall channel mix.

Go The Extra Mile

Initially, a pilot program may seem like a lot of work without enough value to merit the implementation, but that’s not true. Routing a pilot program through legal reviews and other processes should offer plenty of insight and metrics to make it worth your time and effort to apply what you’ve learned. 

Dan Hawtof is VP, Product & Business Development, Channel Solutions for Blackhawk Engagement Solutions. For more than 25 years, he’s been involved in almost every aspect of the channel. He’s been affiliated with large enterprises and small startups, working in every department, from sales and strategy to product marketing and management, and more.








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