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Is it time to revamp channel incentive strategies?

Is it time to revamp channel incentive strategies?

As ecosystems become more complex and vendors work with new partner types, relying solely on traditional financial incentives like volume rebates is insufficient to adequately move the needle. Vendors need a more nuanced and personalized approach to incentive management that enables them to manage and motivate a diverse array of partner types and stakeholders. Central to this shift is the adoption of a modern and robust Channel Incentive Management (CIM) platform to effectively develop, manage and optimize incentive programs that drive a more productive, engaged partner ecosystem at scale.   


Incentive programs are critical for motivating partners but require the right strategy and tools for today’s evolving partners. 

In today’s dynamic and highly competitive partner ecosystems, effectively motivating partners is critical to a vendor’s success. The right incentives can drive partners to integrate a vendor’s offering more deeply into their solutions and create behaviors that build long-lasting partnerships. However, as ecosystems become more complex, and vendors work with new partner types, traditional financial incentives like volume rebates and SPIFFs are becoming insufficient to adequately move the needle. Vendors need a more nuanced approach to incentive management that enables them to manage and motivate a diverse array of partner types, including traditional resellers, service partners, GSIs, influencers and digital marketing agencies, among others.  

This raises the question: is it time to revamp channel incentive strategies and infrastructure for today’s diverse partner types and go-to-market motions? We believe it is.  

Vendors should rethink traditional incentives and instead create new strategies that effectively motivate the varied partner types and individuals in their ecosystems. Vendors must go beyond conventional methods and implement tailored incentive programs that cater to the specific needs and motivations of different partner organizations and stakeholders within those partner organizations. Central to this strategic shift is the adoption of a modern and robust Channel Incentive Management (CIM) platform. Sophisticated CIM platforms are instrumental in developing, managing and fine-tuning incentive programs that drive a more productive, engaged channel at scale.   

What is a Channel Incentive Management Platform?  

A Channel Incentive Management (CIM) platform is a specialized solution designed for creating, managing, and optimizing diverse incentive programs for partners. These platforms are built to manage various incentive structures, including individualized rewards, rebates, discounts, Market Development Funds (MDF), co-op funds, spiffs, gamification systems, leaderboard competitions, enablement programs and other reward tactics designed to motivate cross-functional team members at partner organizations. By leveraging CIMs to build and manage these programs, vendors can execute tailored programs that drive the channel to focus on specific products, services, customers, activities, or behaviors that build successful partnerships.

For vendors, CIM platforms streamline the incentive process, offering customized and efficient management and reward distribution. These platforms support both global and local incentive programs, catering to various roles and stakeholders, which is key to driving partner engagement and loyalty across large, multi-layered partner organizations. Additionally, embedded analytics in CIM tools help vendors measure, track and optimize program performance. 

For partners, CIMs offer a transparent, easy-to-understand system to monitor performance and earn corresponding incentives. This clarity creates a highly motivated channel, where partners can see the direct correlation between their efforts and rewards. CIM tools also support partners in adopting new solutions and refining sales and marketing strategies, and individual contributors benefit from increased earning opportunities, tailored incentives and a variety of incentive options ranging from financial to recognition-based rewards that enhance performance. 

Channel Incentive Management Market Overview

According to Canalys research, the broader ecosystem software industry has 233 active companies, generating US$5.3 billion in revenue, with projections rising to US$11.8 billion by 2028. Within the Channel Incentive Management segment in 2023 there were 44 players that delivered US$1.1B in revenue, which is expected to double by 2028. This growth underscores the increasing demand for solutions that can effectively manage complex and nuanced incentive programs on a global scale.   

While there is an array of platforms that offer some channel incentive management functionality, such as Partner Relationship Management (PRM) and Through-Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA), this analysis is dedicated to more niche CIM platforms. Below is an overview of the top CIM platforms.   

Top Channel Incentive Management platforms:  

  • 360insights (Whitby, Ontario, Canada): Known for its 'Channel Success Platform,' 360insights provides a comprehensive suite that combines incentives, engagement, and analytics into one unified solution, emphasizing user-friendliness and actionable insights.  
  • ACB (New York, USA): Advertising Checking Bureau (ACB) offers a comprehensive suite of channel marketing solutions to manage rebate programs, sales incentive programs, co-op/MDF programs, brand compliance, and channel marketing solutions.    
  • Ansira (St. Louis, Missouri, USA): Ansira empowers companies operating in a distributed ecosystem to improve performance though marketing activation, funds management and more.  
  • Augeo (St. Paul, Minnesota, USA): Augeo is an employee engagement platform that features a channel loyalty offering to drive deeper partner loyalty.  
  • Awin (Berlin, Germany): Awin is a global affiliate marketing platform that focuses on helping retail, fashion, travel, financial services, and telco companies grow through affiliate partnerships.  
  • Aximpro (Freising, Germany): Aximpro offers a channel marketing platform with a focus on tailored loyalty and incentive programs and marketing.  
  • Benepik (Gurgaon, Haryana, India): Benepik is a rewards, loyalty and engagement platform for employees and channel partners.  
  • Blackhawk Network (Pleasanton, California): Blackhawk Network is known for branded payment solutions, including rewards and incentives, gift cards, egifts, payments and other prepaid solutions.   
  • BrandMuscle (Chicago, Illinois, USA): BrandMuscle combines channel marketing and management with powerful incentive strategies, giving a boost to local and channel partner marketing efforts.  
  • Brightspot Incentives & Events (Irving, TX): Brightspot offers a wide range of incentive program services for the channel and travel incentives.   
  • Capillary Technologies (Bengaluru, Karnataka, India): Capillary is a loyalty, engagement and rewards platform offering channel incentive management.  
  • ChannelAssist (Concord, Ontario, Canada): ChannelAssist offers end-to-end development and management of channel engagement and incentive programs.  
  • Channel Mechanics (Galway, Ireland): Channel Mechanics offers a holistic channel management platform that enables vendors to easily configure and deploy incentive strategies, including spiffs, rebates, credits, MDF funds, incentive and performance programs.  
  • Channeltivity (Charlotte, North Carolina, USA): Along with a suite of PRM tools, Channeltivity offers incentive management and MDF management, and is designed for ease of use and boasts integrations.  
  • Channel Fusion (Hiawatha, Iowa, USA): Channel Fusion specializes in providing customized channel marketing and incentive program solutions.  
  • Comviva (India): Comviva’s portfolio of digital solutions and platforms includes a PRM solution that helps companies manage, enable and reward channel partners.  
  • Conga (Broomfield, Colorado, USA): Conga Promotions is known for its multi-channel promotions to drive sales.  
  • Dash Solutions (New York, USA): Dash Solutions offers a comprehensive suite of engagement and payment solutions. Dash focuses on configurable incentive programs, delivering not just a platform but also a highly adaptable framework that can tailor to specific industry needs and sales behaviors.  
  • E2open (Austin, Texas, USA): E2open is a supply chain management platform that offers a Channel Application Suite to engage partners and run effective incentive programs.   
  • Enable (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) Enable helps manufacturers, distributors, service providers, retailers and more manage rebate programs, commissions, and promotions, and turn them into an engine for growth.  
  • EXTU (Incentive Solutions) (Atlanta, Georgia, USA): EXTU specializes in channel marketing and offers tools to build channel incentive programs, loyalty programs, rebate programs, sales incentive programs, SPIFFS, and more to increase sales and build loyalty.    
  • Fielo (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA): Fielo is an incentive and loyalty program management to drive partner engagement and performance and built to work with top CRMs.  
  • Forma.AI (Toronto, Ontario, Canada): utilizes AI to enable organizations to design, execute and optimize sales and compensation strategies.   
  • Glu (San Francisco, California, USA): Glu is mainly a game developer and publisher that offers rewards and engagement strategies.  
  • Hinda Incentives (Chicago, Illinois, USA): Hinda Incentives provides an end-to-end channel and sales incentive platform to drive engagement, loyalty and reward loyal partners to grow the business.  
  • HMI Performance Incentives (Norwood, Massachusetts, USA): HMI Performance Incentives specializes in using data, behavior-driven methodologies and strategic design to deliver comprehensive incentive loyalty strategies and programs.  
  • (Santa Barbara, California, USA): is a partnership management platform that automates, optimizes and scales partner incentive and reward programs, including traditional reward programs, affiliates, influencers, commerce content publishers, B2B and more.   
  • ITA Group (Des Moines, Iowa, USA): ITA Group creates and manages personalized incentive strategies and recognition programs for channel partners that drive loyalty and revenue.  
  • Flintfox (North Shore, Aukland, New Zealand): Flintfox is an intelligent pricing platform that optimizes channel pricing, discounts, rebates and more.   
  • Herald Logic (Mumbai, India): Herald Logic’s Distribution Management System includes an Incentive Compensation Management solution to automate commissions, incentives and reward programs for channel partners.   
  • Maritz (St. Louis, Missouri, USA): Maritz utilizes behavioral science, data and analytics to provide channel loyalty, incentives and rewards programs.   
  • Model N (San Mateo, California, USA): Model N focuses on revenue optimization for pharmaceutical, med-tech and high tech to drive growth across their channels.   
  • Online Rewards (Dallas, Texas, USA): Online Rewards designs and manages custom incentive, rewards and loyalty programs for channel partners.  
  • Partnerize (New York, USA): Partnerize is a PRM and partner marketing platform that helps companies manage partner payments and rewards.  
  • (San Francisco, California, USA) Salesforce offers a Loyalty Management platform that enables personalized rewards to drive loyalty.   
  • SproutLoud Media Networks (Sunrise, Florida, USA): SproutLoud is a distributed marketing platform focused on enabling companies to market and sell through partners. The platform includes channel incentives, co-op marketing funds and has tools to make it easy for channel partners to deploy marketing campaigns.  
  • TenXEngage (San Francisco, California, USA: TenXEngage is an AI-enabled cloud platform that provides unified incentives management to drive channel partner engagement and performance.  
  • Vanson Technology Services (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA): Vanson has a tool that enables companies to create and manage powerful loyalty and incentive programs.  
  • Vendavo (Denver, Colorado, USA): Vendavo specializes in helping global manufacturers and distributors drive profit and predictable revenue with pricing, quoting and selling tools, and tools to help manage and automate rebates, incentives, payments, and more.  
  • Virtual Incentives (New York, USA): Virtual Incentives provides digital reward solutions and makes rewards, incentives and payments simple.  
  • Vistex (Hoffman Estates, Illinois, USA): Vistex is known for its software solutions that manage and measure pricing, promotions, rebates, discounts, trade, royalties, and incentive programs to drive growth.  
  • Vortex 6 (Bracknell, England) Vortex 6 offers a suite of tools to manage partner compliance and increase profitability.   
  • Xactly (Los Gatos, California, USA): Xactly’s Intelligence Revenue Platform improves sales performance. It stands out with its predictive analytics capabilities, using AI to forecast incentive program performance and optimize programs in real-time.  
  • xoxoday (Redwood City, California, USA): Xoxoday is a fintech platform offering products that manage and automate rewards, incentives, payouts, loyalty programs, commissions and payouts.  

Future of Channel Incentive Management platforms

CIMs must evolve as the industry shifts towards managing more complex partner strategies. CIMs must cater to a wider range of partner types and personas and offer an array of monetary and non-monetary incentives that reward partners for activities across the customer journey. CIMs will need to innovate to keep up with new go-to-market strategies and partner program mechanics, such as the move away from tiered partner programs to points-based systems. As CIM platforms become even more intelligent and automated, these tools will be able to utilize predictive analytics to forecast the most effective incentive programs and predict personalized incentives for both partner organizations and individual stakeholders.  

In tandem, the overall channel technology industry is likely to experience consolidation. Major suites that oversee the entire partner lifecycle may strategically acquire CIMs or enhance competitive CIM offerings within their portfolios. This would create a more robust, integrated suite of tools that not only simplify incentive management but also provide a competitive edge in the broader partner management market.   


Launching an impactful channel incentive strategy is vital to maximizing channel partnerships. Vendors must take action to reassess outdated incentive strategies and infrastructure for today’s evolving partner ecosystem. Vendors should re-examine existing channel incentive programs, gain a deep understanding of what drives diverse partner types and their stakeholders, and work to align incentives with effective and tailored go-to-market tactics. At the heart of this transformation is the selection or reassessment of a modern, forward-thinking and predictive Channel Incentive Management (CIM) system, one that can manage and optimize sophisticated and nuanced incentive programs. Vendors that embrace these changes will drive partner engagement and gain a distinct competitive advantage. 


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