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Partner-Preferred Incentives: Top Rewards to Offer & Best Practices

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Partner incentives are essential to engaging your channel and encouraging the right activities. However, you must develop incentives with your partners in mind — otherwise, they won’t be motivating. Discover the value of strong partner incentives and the rewards partners tend to enjoy.

Why are Partner Incentives Critical?

Partner incentives are valuable tools for driving desired behavior from your ecosystem. With the right rewards in place, your partners will be motivated to take appropriate action to support your goals.

Today, many of your partners will likely be members of multiple channel programs. With limited time and resources, it’s critical to ensure your partners prioritize working with you over the other programs they’re a part of. Creating valuable incentives is a great way to do this while encouraging loyalty from your partners.

Which Incentives Do Partners Prefer?

Ultimately, the best incentives for your ecosystem will depend on your specific partners. When in doubt, ask your partners. Typically, they’ll be happy to share their thoughts on which incentives they appreciate and which they would prefer to receive.

With that in mind, a few incentives tend to be winners all around.


Market development funds (MDF) is money given to a partner or spent on a partner’s behalf to drive sales. For example, MDF may be used to purchase signage for conferences, online advertising spots, prospect dinners, or other marketing activities.

Typically, partners must report on the ROI of activities conducted through MDF to prove the value of their efforts. In an ideal world, you’ll manage the distribution of MDF through your PRM, making it easy to track your results.


Sales performance incentive funds (SPIFFs) are activity-based rewards. Often, SPIFFs may be open for just a short period. You can use SPIFFs to encourage very specific activities by partners by rewarding them with payouts.

SPIFFs are typically provided directly to the sales rep or individual team member at your partner’s organization who completed the activity. This can be a great way to get your partner’s team excited about and bought in on working with you.


If your partners also use your product or services, discounts can be a great way to reward ideal activities. For example, consider offering tiered discounts based on specific partner activities such as deal registration or prospect conversion.

Gift Cards

Gift cards are another incentive provided directly to individuals vs. the partner organization. These are a great way to keep your partner’s team involved and can be used to reward training completion, specific engagement activities, and more.

A Useful Physical Gift

Gift cards are another incentive provided directly to individuals vs. the partner organization. These are a great way to keep your partner’s team involved and can be used to reward training completion, specific engagement activities, and more.

When Should You Deliver Incentives to Partners?

There are many times when it may be appropriate to deliver an incentive to your partners. The incentives provided should vary based on the value of the action completed. Naturally, more valuable actions by your partners should result in greater rewards.

Different milestones to reward include:

  • Training completion
  • Webinar/event attendance
  • Deal registration
  • Prospect conversion
  • Reaching a new partner tier
  • Hitting a sales milestone

Best Practices for Partner Incentives

Whether you’re launching partner incentives for the first time or are refining your program, there are a few best practices you should always keep in mind.

Ensure Rewards are Attainable

Partners should have to work to earn incentives, but they should still be attainable — don’t create incentives that are intentionally out of reach. If, months after launching your partner incentive program, no one has earned any rewards, this is a clear sign your incentives are too challenging to earn.

Consider Automation

Leverage your PRM to automate incentive distribution. Your PRM should already track all of the required partner activities, making it easy to send out rewards once they’re earned. This will save your team tons of time and ensure your partners are rewarded accordingly. 

Make it Easy to Understand

Ensure your program is easy to understand and that it’s clear how partners can earn incentives. Avoid over-complicating incentives by making rewards straightforward.

Promote Incentives

Market potential incentives to partners, so they are aware of potential rewards. For example, anytime you launch new or limited edition incentives, send out an alert to partners via your partner portal or email. When running limited edition incentives, send periodic updates on your partner’s progress toward rewards and reminders before the incentive closes.

Work with channel partners to craft relevant marketing materials educating customers about new product capabilities, promotional deals, and why you’re simply the best of the best!

Keep it Consistent

No one likes when the goalposts move. Ensure the terms of your partner incentives stay consistent to help build trust. It’s okay to launch limited edition incentives, just make sure you share the timeline for them so your partners know what to expect.



Engage Your Partners

Incentives are a fantastic way to keep your partners engaged when leveraged correctly. Remember to keep your partners in mind when selecting rewards and leverage automation to streamline your distribution efforts. 

To further boost program engagement and satisfaction, consider these other articles from the Allbound team:

Channel Partner Commission Structure Practices — Commissions are another strategy for incentivizing your partners to conduct desired activities. Discover best practices for establishing a channel partner commission structure, including partner revenue share, tier-based commissions, and more.

Channel Partner Engagement Strategies Guide — Partner engagement is essential for forging loyalty and achieving key results. Explore the seven engagement strategies to consider implementing in your program, including incentives and sales rewards, celebrating wins, and developing fresh content.

Partner Performance and Engagement Metrics — Measuring your partner engagement is critical to maintaining partner loyalty and continuing to drive results. Explore the key metrics you need to track to discover which partners are engaged and worth extra efforts vs. which partners aren’t worth investing in.

Ali Spiric
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