Deeper Dives

PartnerStack Feature Alert: How to Run Partner Challenges to Drive Revenue

These fun short-term opportunities can help rev up sales.

Let’s talk about a PartnerStack feature you can use to drive revenue through short term incentives: partner challenges. No matter the health of your partner program — thriving, plateaued, or in need of a boost — you can use challenges to inspire your partners to reach new revenue targets.

What is a sales spiff?

PartnerStack challenges can be likened to sales spiffs (sales program incentive funds). Spiffs are a type of sales incentive program that rewards sales professionals for meeting goals tied to a specific campaign or initiative. This is what makes them different from commissions. While commissions are long term and part of a salesperson’s compensation package, spiffs are ad hoc sales incentive programs.

When should you utilize a sales spiff?

There are specific times when sales incentives like sales spiffs are a good idea:

  • You need a sales incentive program to boost your sales numbers within a short period of time. 
  • You’ve launched a new product and want to drive interest around it. 
  • You want to rev up excitement within your sales team through a friendly challenge with a monetary reward.

Sales spiffs are typically used for a company’s own sales team, but PartnerStack knows it can be worthwhile to apply this sales incentive idea to your partners’ sales teams as well.

In this article, we’ll break down how a partner challenge works, the benefits of these incentives for your partner program, best practices for your partner challenges, and examples of partner challenges you can run yourself using the PartnerStack platform.

Related: How to win internal buy in and trust for your partnership program.

How does a PartnerStack partner challenge work?

First, you need to identify a specific partner program goal for this incentive program. Look at what you want to accomplish and use this to develop your incentive ideas for sales. A few examples of goals you can tie to your sales incentives include: 

Encouraging partner sales of a new product or service 

Suppose you’re a SaaS company selling a chat bot solution. You’re making good sales and you have a partner program that encourages other marketing technology vendors to bundle your solution. But now you want to start selling an email marketing solution, too. You want your partners to embrace this new offering and sell it with as much interest as they do the chat bot.

In this case, you might introduce a partner challenge that encourages partners to book a specific number of demos of your email solution by the end of the month or to close a certain number of deals by the end of the quarter. If they reach this target, they’re eligible for a cash bonus or other incentives. 

Encouraging deeper education about your products and services

Another potential goal to tie to a PartnerStack challenge is training and education. It’s a good idea to keep improving your partners’ ability to talk about your solutions confidently and clearly articulate your unique value proposition. Of course, it can be hard to convince your partners to participate in new training or read more resources when they’ve already got a work day packed with responsibilities. 

You could offer a cash bonus or other types of incentives for partner sales reps completing a certain number of modules in your learning management system (LMS) by a specific date. Or if you want to make your challenge even more ambitious, you could encourage them to earn certifications in order to get these limited time incentives.

Encouraging more promotion and co-marketing of your products and services

Partners are busy and they have their own internal goals to work on. This means that they could forget to market your partnership consistently. A partner program in name alone (e.g., one co-branded landing page that no one visits) doesn’t offer much value. Ideally, you want your partners talking about your products and the added value they provide regularly. A cool way to do this is through digital marketing, specifically content marketing. 

You might encourage your partners to write a blog article about a specific product. Once they send you a link proving they’ve written and published something, they qualify for these time-bound incentives.

illustration of computer screen with arrows leading to flags that suggest starting a race

What are the benefits of these types of incentives for your partners?

A sales spiff may seem like it only benefits you, but in reality, it also benefits your partners. The first reason is obvious: they get a chance to earn more money. But that isn’t the only one.

The other benefit is the opportunity to deepen your relationship with your partners. Sales spiffs give them a reason to spend more time learning about your products and to consider selling more products from your product suite. If your products are good and your customers are happy, you wind up getting a more engaged partner sales team.

The other benefit is their enhanced ability to service customers. By working with a proven vendor, they can help their customers better and develop a better reputation as a result.

Related: Recruit your first 100 revenue generating partners.

What are the different types of challenges you can activate with PartnerStack?

The PartnerStack partner relationship management software simplifies the process of running partner sales spiffs or partner challenges. You can activate different types of challenges from directly within the software. Different partner challenges sales you can create are:

  • Partner poll challenges
  • Submission challenges
  • Progress challenges
  • Feedback challenges

Partner poll challenges

Partner polls ask partners to answer questions from a pre-defined list. This is a great way to gather data about your partner program and use that data to either market how robust your partner program is or to improve your partner program. 

Submission challenges

A partnership is most valuable when both parties contribute to it and market the amplified value of their work together. For instance, a software provider may partner with a consultant because of the industry expertise that consultant has and how it can tailor the software provider’s solutions to end customers. But too often, partnerships exist in name only. As discussed above, undeveloped partnerships often start and stop at the development of a co-branded landing page. A submission challenge encourages your partners to produce content related to your work together. 

Let’s use the example above. Suppose you as the vendor develop an enterprise accounting software. 

You start a challenge encouraging partners to write a blog post about your new add-on. One of your partners might be a consulting firm that specializes in IT implementations for legal firms. That consultant could write a blog article about your new add-on tailored towards CTOs who work in big legal firms. They could then submit the article as part of the challenge. You might even offer special incentives for people who publish a certain number of blog posts within a specific period of time. 

illustration of computer screen with arrows leading to graduation cap icons and notification icons with black and white checkered flags in the background

Progress challenges

Want to focus on driving sales? Progress challenges are the tool for you.These challenges can offer a cash bonus for partners who close deals on products from a predefined list within a specific time period. This kind of challenge is most similar to a traditional sales spiff, and since PartnerStack’s software can automatically track progress during the challenge, it’s very easy to set up and run. 

Feedback challenges

These kinds of challenges help you get your partners’ feedback on different elements of your program. You could ask them their opinions on: 

  • The incentives you currently offer
  • The level of support they feel they receive
  • The quality of the vendor education and training they receive (e.g., Do you need to improve the online courses in your learning management system?)
  • Their understanding of your current products and services

Getting partners to answer surveys can be difficult, so if you really need the answers, you can tie your polls to a partner challenge and make the effort worthwhile.

You may also like: Expert tips on how to scale a partner program with stability.

Do your partner incentives need to be monetary?

Cash may be king, but there are other great sales incentives running around your court. Examples of cool non-cash rewards are:

  • Gym memberships
  • Gift cards for food delivery services
  • Tickets to a local theme park

Keep these cool “bonus” items in mind when developing your incentives programs. 

Ready to get started? Log into your PartnerStack dashboard, click on Challenges, and you’re all set to start your first partner challenge.

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