Channel Partner Incentives and Personal Motivation – The Hidden Link

Motivation Excellence

At Motivation Excellence, we specialize in creating innovative channel partner incentive programs that motivate distributors, dealers, and other partners to excel. We understand the intrinsic link between channel partner incentives and personal motivation. This post delves into this connection, exploring how channel partner incentives can drive motivation using real-world case studies as examples.

Personal Motivation in Channel Partners

Personal motivation is crucial in the context of any incentive. It’s a special case with channel partners, who are  external to your company, often owning businesses that sell your products, and perhaps your competitors’ products too. Understanding what drives them—whether it’s a sense of achievement, recognition, or personal/professional growth—is vital. Channel partner incentives are not just about bonuses or perks for past actions; they are about creating opportunities for partners to achieve and exceed shared goals now and into the future. These particular incentives are about loyalty and keeping your brand top of mind in their business. 

Case Study: Success in the Fencing Industry

To illustrate the effectiveness of a well-designed channel incentive program, consider our case study in the fencing industry.

Business Issue

Our client needed to restructure and unify their approach to build stronger relationships with contractors, increase market share, and boost customer loyalty. They also aimed to provide educational resources, networking opportunities, and better access to company leadership.

Our Solution

We developed an interactive Buying Show weekend that combined a fun destination with top vendor partners, exclusive deals, and financing specials. The event featured learning and networking sessions and world-class entertainment. Funding came from qualifying contractors’ incremental sales and supplier contributions, and we supported the program with a performance tracking website, an engagement campaign, and best practices webinars led by company leadership.


  • Attendee Growth: The number of attendees grew by 226% over 12 years, with attendees comprising over 71% of the customer base.
  • Sales Growth: Median sales growth reached 214%, the average growth was 230%, and the top 25% achieved a 263% average growth.

The Buying Show became a must-attend event, significantly enhancing business relationships and revenue, with the program continuing successfully since its inception in 2012. The personal motivation for these channel partners has become to always qualify for the next event, and for some, to move up the ranks within the attendee audience to capture top-performance awards. 

Case Study: HVAC and Plumbing Distributor

Another example of  success with a channel partner incentive program involves a nationally ranked and independently owned HVAC and plumbing distributor seeking to drive incremental sales and gain market share with a self-funded travel incentive for their loyal customers and preferred prospects.

Business Atmosphere

Following the slow recovery from a major economic downturn, our client aimed to energize their market presence. They sought an engaging and self-funded travel incentive to reward their loyal customers and attract preferred prospects.

Creating a Solution

Collaborating with our client’s financial and marketing teams, we analyzed historic sales data, gross profit, and growth potential to develop a meticulous goal-setting structure and tracking system. Participants earned credit for meeting personalized goals and additional credit for surpassing them.

Self-Funded Travel Reward

We designed a travel incentive program where customers and their sales representatives and managers within our client’s company could earn a travel award by achieving predetermined incremental sales growth. This approach ensured the program was self-funded. Including our own company representatives in the travel experience significantly strengthened business relationships.

Support for Success

We partnered with our client’s sales reps and managers to create compelling presentations for their customers and prospects. An online performance tracking platform enabled company reps and customers to monitor daily progress toward goals. Monthly electronic reports and updates fostered ongoing engagement between customers and the sales team.

Rewarding Results

The revenue and profit growth for enrolled participants consistently outperformed non-enrolled participants. Over five years, the number of travel award winners increased from 75 couples to 250 couples. This ongoing self-funded travel incentive program led to real growth, increased market share, enhanced customer loyalty, and stronger relationships between customers and the sales team. The personal motivation became the enduring emotional connections with our client’s people combined with the value of their products. The extra motivation came from aspirational travel destinations. 

Self-Sustaining Motivation

Channel partner incentives can create self-sustaining motivation by helping partners realize their potential and rewarding them for incremental growth with aspirational and educational group events. This continuous cycle of achievement and motivation leads to long-term productivity and loyalty to your company.

By designing incentive programs that address personal motivators, companies can drive their channel partners to achieve remarkable results. A holistic approach ensures that partners feel valued and recognized, encouraging them to strive for excellence consistently. Your business grows along with theirs, for the win-win scenario.

Contact us today to design and implement your channel incentive program or other incentive and rewards programs.

Here at Motivation Excellence, we are all about innovative channel partner incentive programs designed to motivate distributors, resellers, and other partners to excel in their roles. Of course, there are other organizations that do the same things we do. We all have one thing in common: we understand the intrinsic link between channel partner incentives and personal motivation.

The link is a hidden one in the sense that many people do not know it exists. It is one thing to know that channel partner incentives can be motivational. It’s another thing to know why. That’s what we want to discuss in this post. It is all tied to something known as the Herzberg theory.

Understanding What Motivates Partners

Frederick Herzberg was a well-known psychologist who made his mark as one of the most influential people in the business management world. In the 1950s, he began looking into what motivated people in the workplace. His research eventually led to the development of a theory which was formally named the Motivator-Hygiene theory. We just call it the Herzberg theory for short.

In a nutshell, his theory suggests that people are motivated by different things that can be divided into two categories. The Motivator category involves internal things like satisfaction, recognition, and the sense of achievement. The Hygiene category involves external things like salary, bonus pay, company policies, and supervision.

Herzberg theorized that the short-term gains realized through external motivators were lost once those motivators were taken away. Likewise, supporting internal motivators with external counterparts enhances productivity. Therein lies the link.

The two types of motivators feed off one another. Promoting one while ignoring the other does not achieve the best possible results. So when it comes to creating truly successful channel partner incentive programs, the key is to find the right balance between them.

The Idea of Personal Motivation

Going beyond the Herzberg theory leads us to the idea of personal motivation. What motivates an individual to be the best they can be? Is it a sense of achievement? Is it merely an intrinsic desire to always be the best? The actual trigger for any one person is less important than actually coming up with the channel partner incentives most likely to trigger partners to take action.

Channel partner incentive programs give partners a reason to explore their own personal motivations. But it needs to be understood that a bonus or perk is not the same thing as a channel partner incentive. Bonuses and perks are one-time motivators offered in response to past actions. Channel partner incentives are an invitation to do better both now and in the future.

Channel partner incentive programs place a reward in front, where partners can clearly see it. As partners work to receive that reward, they come to realize just what they are capable of. They take a sense of pride and satisfaction in their own accomplishments even as they seek to win the proverbial prize.

Incentives Can Be Self-Sustaining

Channel partner incentives can be self-sustaining in the sense that they train partners in the fundamental truth that they can be better at what they do. As partners accomplish goals and understand their own capabilities, they personally motivate themselves to stretch further. The more they accomplish, the more they want to accomplish in the future.

Related Posts