There are many considerations and tools for building an indirect sales program, but perhaps nothing more important than the incentives that motivate partners and drive sales performance. With channel incentive management (CIM) software, organizations can establish and optimize rewards, rebates, promotions, and marketing programs to do just that.
Channel incentive software helps IT vendors and other channel program operators take a strategic approach to deploying incentives in a growing and global IT channel ecosystem. Besides data collection and sales lifecycle management, incentive management solutions give clients the granular structure and visibility to maximize channel performance through motivation-based campaigns. From MDFs (marketing development funds) empowering partner marketing efforts to SPIFFs (sales program incentive funds) driving sales for short-term strategies, CIM software makes managing incentive programs seamless.
Here are the top channel incentive management vendors, what CIM software entails, and considerations for finding the right solution.
See our picks for the top partner relationship management (PRM) solutions.
Top Channel Incentive Software Vendors
- BlackHawk Network
- Collinson Group
- Model N
With a robust stack of tools and services to optimize channel programs, 360insights starts our list as the industry-leading channel incentive management vendor. Serving the channel ecosystem since 2008, the Ontario-based company boasts an 86% client Net Promoter Score (NPS), a total of $5 billion in payments processed, and $66 million saved for clients. 360insighs’ flagship product is the cloud-based Chanel Success Platform that offers channel operators a central console for managing partner incentive programs. 360insights’ dominant position in the CIM market is partly due to acquisitions of other channel vendors CR Worldwide and Perks WW in October 2020.
- Multiple rebate options including volume incentive, consumer, and instant rebates
- Engage partners with an effective Employee Recognition program
- Cash sales incentives and short-term payouts through SPIFF campaigns
- Sell-through allowances offer visibility into prices and adjusting necessary margins
- Build market demand and bolster marketing with MDFs and Co-Op funds management
Ansira is a marketing company that’s been around for a century and is now an industry leader in through-channel marketing automation (TCMA). Ansira channel partner solutions include program design, enablement, data management, marketing activation, and incentive management. The Ansira Edge Trade Fund Management Module works with clients to develop and track channel incentive funds through MDF, co-op fund, and SPIFF programs. With global payment processing, channel chiefs can offer sales compensation, rebates, and bonuses to partners for performance. Interested customers can try a demo of Ansira Edge upon request.
- Proprietary solutions for market intelligence, channel engagement, and partner funds
- Automated features for program administration, including compliance and claims
- Analytics offering administrators visibility into marketing funds and performance targets
- Approve promotions, rebates, and incentives with prompt reimbursement
- Global payments for 190 countries and support for 10 languages for regional segments
Launched in 2001, BlackHawk Network has long been an innovator in the branded payment space, and today offers a suite of solutions that addresses commerce, employees, incentives, and more. The vendor has plans for customers, employees, sales, and resellers for incentive solutions alone. Unique solutions offered by BlackHawk Networks relative to other top CIM solutions include health-related incentive programs for building healthier habits and relief fund distribution for non-profits and government agencies. BlackHawk’s integrated program solution offers card services like fulfillment, merchandising, and promotional marketing, as well as data entry for rebate clients and customer service for cardholders.
BlackHawk Network Features
- Rewards card options like Visa and Mastercard Prepaid, mobile, and merchant cards
- Market research with focus groups, online surveys, in-field studies, and interviews
- Access the Hawk Marketplace and execute automatic ordering with RESTful APIs
- Customer support and global contact centers are available 24/7/365 for card recipients
- Account management and expertise for optimizing rewards and incentives programs
BrandMuscle is also a leader in TCMA and aims to enable the world’s leading brands through local and channel marketing. The Chicago-based vendor claims tover 1 million local businesses supported since 2000, $1.5 billion in marketing funds managed, and a 98% customer retention rate. Through BrandMuscle’s fund management solutions, organizations can make tasks like brand compliance and marketing approvals seamless. Channel program administrators can gain specific insight into MDF and co-op dollars and their impact. Demos for BrandMuscle are available upon request.
- Fund management for market development funds and co-op fund programs
- Administrative controls for approval rules, pre-approvals, and program adjustments
- Analytics including program KPIs and a channel partner scorecard
- Manage sales incentives, rebates, and loyalty programs and collect claims
- Range of payment options and fund transfer capabilities for enabling partners
Three decades after its roots in airline traveler services, Collinson Group is a B2B company with solutions that span healthcare, security, insurance, and loyalty. Collinson’s Valuedynamx allows organizations to engage with global partners and establish, enrich, and execute reward programs for channel incentive management solutions. Collinson’s portfolio of travel and financial incentives for reward programs is extensive, with over 128 distinct categories to motivate the right partners. Travel rewards alone include points redemption at over 400,000 hotels and 120 major airlines.
Collinson Group Features
- Merchant commerce network for distributing card rewards and redemption opportunities
- Access Collinson Group’s online affiliate network and post online affiliate offers
- Protect partner and customer data with PCI DSS compliant solutions for data security
- 5,000 merchant partners and retailer options for customers to maximize promotions
- Merchant-funded offers and opportunities for rewarding customers in-store or online
India-based Comviva is a global communications service provider of digital systems, banking and mobile payments, growth marketing, and more. The MobiLytix Loyalty and Rewards (MLR) platform, in particular, offers a reach of 100 million end customers through 400,000 merchant partners for organizations interested in managing or promoting a loyalty program. Comviva has options for long-term and instant rewards programs, gamification experiences, and personalized promotions from employees to channel partners.
- Integrate websites, POS, billing, and third-party apps with web services API
- Experience management features for administering and optimizing partners
- Monitoring, alerting and reporting for visibility into partner incentive programs
- Manage member status by tiers with custom policies for a segment
- Central dashboard for controlling program policies, campaigns, and partner segments
In 2020, Apttus merged with Conga to extend the company’s reach beyond digital documents and into revenue operations, contract lifecycle management, and digital commerce. For channel applications, the San Matero-based vendor includes a proprietary Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) engine and solutions for Digital Commerce and Promotions. The Conga Digital Commerce product fits enterprise organizations and supports multichannel management with rules-based product configuration, upsell and cross-sell recommendations, and more. Conga Promotions allows customers to create, deploy, and modify promotion programs for driving incentive management.
- Strategies for promotions like flat amount or based on volume, revenue, or percentage
- Branded buying experience, assisted sales, and logistics calculations
- Leverage Salesforce data to track and adjust promotion programs in real-time
- Promotional codes for distribution, program tracking, and end-customer influence
- Integrations with CRM, ERP, PCI-compliant systems, and options for REST API
E2open is a B2B vendor aiming to build an end-to-end ecosystem for global supply chain software. Twenty years after its launch, the Austin-based vendor’s Intelligent Application Suites get pretty close with an extensive set of tools for today’s interconnected channels. Within the Channel Shaping Suite, organizations will find E2open’s Partner Performance Incentives application one of the more robust channel incentive management solutions available. E2open holds particular expertise in managing and automating the rebate lifecycle, but customers also have options for implementing an MDF, sales compensation, or rewards incentive program.
- Robust configuration features for managing and optimizing rebates for partners
- Familiar CRM capabilities for managing partners in an easy-to-use interface
- Rapid program creation for short-term and ad-hoc rebate-based programs
- Analytics of real-time program activity and implications of modifying programs
- Group existing incentive programs and create new policies aligned with current priorities
Since 2013, Fielo has been a Salesforce-native platform for incentive automation. Though already a notable CIM solution, Fielo’s acquisition of leading channel management software provider Gage Marketing in October 2021 makes the vendor a force within the industry. Gage’s Channel Performance Suite offers a bundle of tools for marketing, rewarding, and educating partners. Fielo Channel Incentives gives clients a seamless online experience for designing and managing incentive program policies. Clients can choose from a list of reward program types, including SPIFFs, referrals, marketing funds, performance levels, and more.
- Administration capabilities for rebates, payouts, budgets, and reward criteria
- Email campaigns, external messaging integrations, and incentives actions messaging
- Configure incentives for single or multiple activities, by gamification, and more
- Manage various programs with incentive templating, scheduling, and onboarding
- Integration with external reward providers, Salesforce B2B Commerce, and open APIs
Model N is a cloud revenue management vendor helping a range of technology industry clients scale business and profitability from existing ERP and CRM infrastructure. Model N’s has a suite of solutions for informing and executing a successful channel program for the High Tech industry. Products for managing channel data, contracts, quotes, deals, and incentives means customers can choose what aligns with their needs rather than an all-in-one solution. Specific to incentive management, Model N offers solutions for MDF, co-op funds, and rebate programs. With plenty of pertinent capabilities, these tools can automate marketing funds, evaluate forecasted against actual spending from partners, or actively configure rebate-based incentive programs.
Model N Features
- Central console for accessing tools, tracking data, setting policy, and more
- Self-service portal for creating, submitting, and approving partner fund claims
- Ensure compliance with control and audit approved fund activities
- Reward and prioritize high performing partners and reduce overpayments
- Integrate any third-party data and automatically validate payments
Considering Cisco’s global footprint, it’s no surprise companies like Netformx successfully assist the IT giant’s extensive partner network and other multi-vendor organizations. With Netformx Channel Xpert and Lifecycle Xpert, organizations have two options to consider. Channel Xpert offers a comprehensive view of business and partner insights, including incentive and promotion data. At the same time, Lifecycle Xpert helps clients make the most of the rewards program for Cisco partners and distributors known as Lifecycle Incentives (LCI). For a fine-tailored approach, tools, and expertise in the Cisco LCI reward space, it’s hard to beat Netformx.
- Manage bookings, rebates, subscriptions, asset contracts, quarterly targets, and more
- Connect and consolidate data from multiple sources for evaluating Cisco LCI Tiers
- Actionable intelligence for tracking, analyzing, and optimizing rewards
- Monitor program compliance and certification progress for ensuring ongoing credibility
- Access to the latest LCI data from distributors and Cisco platforms through a dashboard
Launched in 1999, Vistex offers a list of cloud solutions for enterprise resource planning (ERP) that includes management tools for rebates, sales performance, channel partners, promotions, and vendor chargebacks. Vistex offers their channelConduit Suite to optimize channel sales management, providing clients with channel marketing enablement, incentive management, and channel payments capabilities. Channel program operators can choose between promotional, rewards, and rebate models for partners with insights to drive engagement and decision-making.
- User-friendly GUI with a points-based platform for rewarding channel partners
- Manage global and regional segments with customized incentives and criteria
- Model and evaluate scenarios to estimate financial implications of programs in advance
- Oversee multiple promotion campaigns with lifecycle planning, context, and forecasting
- Rebates, promotions, and rewards programs, all including integration with Salesforce
Also read: If We’re Not a Channel Anymore, What Are We?
What is Channel Incentive Management?
Channel incentive management (CIM) is the process of creating, monitoring, and adjusting incentives programs for channel partners to drive more robust performance and relationships. CIM solutions help vendors with channel programs maximize existing infrastructure by implementing focused incentive rewards programs. By offering incentives like cash, gift cards, travel, learning opportunities, and more, channel operators can deploy targeted sales campaigns with the incentives to motivate the right partners.
Channel Incentive Software Features
- Web-based GUI and dashboard for managing channel incentive programs
- One or multiple options for types of incentive programs to offer channel partners
- Compliance and audit policies for setting and maintaining partner expectations
- Rebate programs that ensure partners earn on registered and high margin deals
- Marketing funds programs like MDFs and co-op funds requiring advanced funding
- Configuration management for single, regional, and global incentive programs
- Options for distributing rewards and payments to successful partners
- Analytics for evaluating existing and prospective incentive programs
Considerations for Choosing a CIM Solution
- What types of incentive programs are available to clients?
- Does the vendor specialize in a specific type of incentive program?
- What supporting data can the vendor show for client ROI and results?
- Does the program enable partners through training or education?
- Are there built-in KPIs used for evaluating partner performance for incentive programs?
- What reward types are available to partners beyond financial payments?
- Does the cost of the CIM align with expected channel activity and marketing campaigns?
- How do administrators assess incentive program performance?
- How does the vendor help clients manage the channel incentive program lifecycle?
Types of Channel Incentives Programs
|Type||Description of Incentive Program|
|Activity-Based||Based on specific work or benchmarks met by channel partner|
|Bundling||Allow partners to bundle products and services for customers|
|Enablement||Give partners more tools and resources to be successful|
|Loyalty||Aimed at retaining valuable and established partner relationships|
|Marketing||Incentives like MDF and COOP empower partner marketing efforts|
|Rebates||Providing partners rebates based on performance activity|
|Referrals||Incentives for deal registration by partners that identify opportunities|
|Sales||Based on sales metrics and performance by partners|
|SPIFF||Incentives for the sales performance of a specific product an in short-term promotion|
|Training||Give partners deeper product knowledge and solution credibility|
|Value-Added||Allow partners to modify and resell products to customers|
|Warranty||Incentives for warranty registrations that inform customer sales lifecycle|
Why Do I Need Channel Incentive Software?
Channel Incentive Software is ideal for organizations with existing channel programs and future sales campaigns where an incentive program with advanced tools could increase profitability.
From enterprise to SMB channel vendors, CIM software can accelerate new product adoption, increase sales volumes, and aggregate channel data to inform future sales campaigns and incentive programs. Like partner relationship management (PRM) software, channel incentive management helps vendors automate core processes for channel success.
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