What are the best rewards to offer in your channel sales incentive?
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Craig Thomas

What are the best rewards to offer in your channel sales incentive?

7th June 2018

A large part of the success of your channel sales incentives lies in the rewards you choose to offer. With the right rewards, you can use incentives to improve business performance, change behaviours and drive sales in your channel. So how do you identify the right rewards?


Factors to consider

  1. The audience in question - who are your participants and what rewards are they most likely to respond to? If you're not sure, ask them.
  2. The objectives you’re setting - which rewards work well with the goals you're setting and are they high value enough to generate the right levels of motivation?
  3. The need for choice - everyone's different, so it's important to select a range of rewards for your incentives that cater for different tastes.


Considering cash? Don't!

A study at Wichita State University (for the International Association for Research in Economic Psychology) established that we choose cash 63% of the time when provided with the choice between that and other rewards, such as electronics or travel. However, despite this, it is generally accepted that cash does not perform as well as non-cash rewards as an incentive.


But why is that? A look at the pros and cons of making cash the focal point of an incentive soon shows the cons outweigh the pros.



  • Cash enables the individual to choose what they want as their reward
  • Cash is a language everyone understands



  • Cash has been proven to not be as effective a motivator as non-cash rewards
  • There is little or no emotional value in cash
  • It may be tempting to spend cash on unrewarding essentials, such as food shopping or bills
  • Non-cash rewards may feel more luxurious and higher value
  • A non-cash reward is almost always viewed as an additional benefit, as opposed to part of an entitlement
  • Non-cash rewards can be something that family and friends can enjoy too
  • When it comes to talking about recognition for achievements, it's always more acceptable to show off about a non-cash reward


The best (non-cash) alternatives


They are easy, immediate and offer the recipient choice - but they are not really the most imaginative or aspirational option. We would generally only recommend them when circumstances or mechanic demand it - e.g. if you need a lower tier reward.


Gifts and 'must-have' items

The most effective tangible rewards are those that the participants covet but most likely wouldn't get for themselves. Ideally, aspirational gifts, 'must-have' items or the latest technology gadgets. Remember, they don't necessarily have to be expensive but they do need to be appropriate to the business culture and the people within it.


Experiences, event tickets and holidays

From spa days and top chef dinners, to pop concert tickets and holidays, experiential-based incentives really work. If you can add a twist, such as offering 'hard-to-get' tickets or including an unusual or exclusive experience in the holiday, then you take the motivation to another level.


Team-based rewards - UK events and group travel incentives

Team-based rewards are ideal for driving overall team performance for an individual partner and can also be used to reward multiple partners. If you chose the right event or destination they can create a lot of noise in the channel and be incredibly motivating. They also create a great opportunity for your team to spend some time with your clients.


How much to reward?

This will obviously change based on your objectives, your expected sales and profits for the period, as well as the profit margins you work to. For a rough guide on how much to spend take a look at our article Planning your spend on sales incentives


Having the right rewards is a fundamental part of a strong channel sales incentive. Active can help you design the perfect incentive for your business and partners. Contact us to find out more.


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