Channel Marketer Report

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To Optimize Incentive Programs, Align Rewards With Partner Personalities

By Ingrid Catlin, Director of Marketing, WorkStride

When it comes to the incentives that motivate us to work harder, we tend to respond differently based on our personalities.

Sure, most of us greatly appreciate a generous bonus, commission or restaurant gift card in response to our achievements. But that’s not necessarily the be-all, end-all for every personality type. In one U.S. study, for example, 70% of workers across industries said their most meaningful workplace recognition had no dollar value, 83% liked recognition itself more than tangible rewards or gifts, 88% were motivated by praise from managers and 76% were spurred on by peer praise.

Ingrid Catlin, Director of Marketing, WorkStride

Those same principles should apply as you’re designing the channel incentive promotions that are likely to motivate the people working for your partners, distributors, dealers, and others in the channel. It’s worth your while to learn as much as you can about those helping you meet your goals so you can incentivize them most effectively. You may even wish to gather data about (and create personas for) those you are targeting.

Segmenting by partner personality and aligning incentives to them is becoming easier to manage thank to increasingly sophisticated channel incentive program management (CIPM) solutions. With this technology, channel managers can distinguish between a variety of partner personalities as well as standard demographic criteria (platforms like WorkStride, for example, have a plethora of options). These tools simplify and automate processes associated with assigning the incentives, monitoring performance, validating claims, and ultimately fulfilment of the rewards. Ultimately, your goal should be to give sales reps the validation they need and to remove barriers that discourage them from helping you achieve your objectives.

“Whether it’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or Hertzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory, evidence suggests success and happiness is determined by whether your individual motivators are being met,” observes leadership consultant Carole Gaskell in The Guardian. “And that’s not necessarily all about money.”

With that in mind, here are some guidelines for choosing the appropriate channel incentive promotions based on nine personality types identified by James Sale, author of Mapping Motivation: Unlocking the Key to Employee Energy and Engagement:

  • The Defenders: These workers prioritize predictability and stability; they crave regular feedback and psychologically links achievement to security. They should respond positively to any clearly defined, tangible channel promotion. Try using tiered SPIFs or cumulative sales promotions with them; knowing they can earn incrementally more for selling above a certain threshold could feed right into their need to affirm their long-term value to your organization.
  • The Friends: This type seeks belonging, friendships and fulfilling relationships, according to Sale, and thy’re most motivated when they feel supported, consulted and involved. They may appreciate being sought out for their opinion about appropriate channel rewards and may respond best to rewards given for team efforts.
  • The Stars: This persons highly value recognition, respect and social esteem and prefers visible perks that suggest additional status. Regularly review their targets and goals and reward them as publicly as possible. Use of “top seller” contests or visual items like public leaderboards should help.
  • The Directors: These employees seek power, influence and control over people and resources, advises Sale. You may wish to give them oversight over the channel rewards at their companies, assigning them the task of coach or local administrator. They may end up being an invaluable cheerleader for your program—tossing in a bonus for team sales accomplishments probably wouldn’t hurt!
  • The Builders: This type is the most motivated by money, material rewards and an above-average standard of living. Reap the benefits by establishing clear financial rewards for reaching sales thresholds and by engaging their competitive spirit through games and competitions.
  • The Experts: These persons are motivated by the opportunity to share and be recognized for their knowledge and skill. They may respond well to training that will help them achieve better channel rewards, especially if that training is a prerequisite for participating in an incentive promotion. Call attention to their expertise when they do well, perhaps giving them additional rewards for training other members of their company or team.
  • The Creators: These workers enjoys innovation, creativity, problem solving and change. You may wish to seek their advice on improving their company’s channel rewards program and/or give them problems to solve. They will likely get bored if your program doesn’t change over time, so you may want to run some short-term SPIFs that also include gamification elements like a spin-to-win or lottery.
  • The Spirits: This personality type seeks out freedom, independence and autonomy and is turned off by bureaucracy. When possible, allow them to choose between a selection of promotions, don’t overemphasize rules and procedures and avoid anything that reeks of micromanagement. Having different SPIFs running concurrently for different products can work well here.
  • The Searchers: These persons will want to see the big picture and understand how their contributions will make a difference to consumers and to their organization. Make sure they understand how your products benefit your clientele, how their extra efforts will be a factor and how they are valued as a part of the larger process. Leverage widgets such as progress meters that allow them to visualize they contributions to the bottom line.

Better understanding what makes different personalities tick can only help you as you create custom channel incentive programs for your partners, dealers, distributors, and others in your indirect network. Use every resource at your disposal to learn about the people involved in your programs so you can achieve optimal results.

Ingrid Catlin is Director of Marketing at WorkStride, a leading provider of enterprise-level channel incentive, employee recognition, and rewards programs. She has spent the last 12+ years working with B2B software and consulting organizations on marketing strategy, demand generation, marketing automation and marketing operations. She has a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of St Andrews and an MBA in Global Business, Leadership and Strategy from Rutgers Business School.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared on the WorkStride website.