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Matching Incentive Promotions to Partner Personality Types

When it comes to the incentives that motivate us to work harder, we tend to respond differently based on our personalities.

Sure, most of us greatly appreciate a generous bonus, commission or restaurant gift card in response to our achievements. But that’s not necessarily the be-all, end-all for every personality type. In one U.S. study, for example, 70 percent of workers across industries said their most meaningful workplace recognition had no dollar value, 83 percent liked recognition itself more than tangible rewards or gifts, 88 percent were motivated by praise from managers and 76 percent were spurred on by peer praise.

Those same principles should apply as you’re designing the channel incentive promotions that are likely to motivate the people working for your partners, distributors, dealers, and others in the channel. It’s worth your while to learn as much as you can about those helping you meet your goals so you can incentivize them most effectively. You may even wish to gather data about (and create personas for) those you are targeting.

You may not be able to offer different rewards to each personality type (though platforms like WorkStride do have a plethora of options), but if you can identify trends among different partners or distributors you can at least try to customize each promotion accordingly. Your goal should be to give them the validation they need and to remove barriers that discourage them from helping you achieve your objectives.

“Whether it’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or Hertzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory, evidence suggests success and happiness is determined by whether your individual motivators are being met,” observes leadership consultant Carole Gaskell in The Guardian. “And that’s not necessarily all about money.”

With that in mind, here are some guidelines for choosing the appropriate channel incentive promotions based on nine personality types identified by James Sale, author of Mapping Motivation: Unlocking the Key to Employee Energy and Engagement:

  • The Defender: This worker prioritizes predictability and stability; he craves regular feedback and psychologically links achievement to security. He should respond positively to any clearly defined, tangible channel promotion. Try using tiered SPIFs or cumulative sales promotions with him; knowing he can earn incrementally more for selling above a certain threshold could feed right into his need to affirm his long-term value to your organization.
  • The Friend: This type seeks belonging, friendships and fulfilling relationships, according to Sale, and he’s most motivated when he feels supported, consulted and involved. He may appreciate being sought out for his opinion about appropriate channel rewards, and may respond best to rewards given for team efforts.
  • The Star: This person highly values recognition, respect and social esteem and prefers visible perks that suggest additional status. Regularly review his targets and goals, and reward him as publicly as possible. Use of “top seller” contests or visual items like public leaderboards should help.
  • The Director: This employee seeks power, influence and control over people and resources, Sale advises. You may wish to give him oversight over the channel rewards at his company, assigning him the task of coach or local administrator. He may end up being an invaluable cheerleader for your program—tossing in a bonus for team sales accomplishments probably wouldn’t hurt!
  • The Builder: This type is the most motivated by money, material rewards and an above-average standard of living. Reap the benefits by establishing clear financial rewards for reaching sales thresholds and by engaging his competitive spirit through games and competitions.
  • The Expert: This person is motivated by the opportunity to share and be recognized for his knowledge and skill. He may respond well to training that will help him achieve better channel rewards, especially if that training is a prerequisite for participating in an incentive promotion. Call attention to his expertise when he does well, perhaps giving him additional rewards for training other members of his company or team.
  • The Creator: This worker enjoys innovation, creativity, problem solving and change. You may wish to seek his advice on improving his company’s channel rewards program and/or give him problems to solve. He will likely get bored if your program doesn’t change over time, so you may want to run some short-term SPIFs that also include gamification elements like a spin-to-win or lottery.
  • The Spirit: This personality type seeks out freedom, independence and autonomy and is turned off by bureaucracy. When possible, allow him to choose between a selection of promotions, don’t overemphasize rules and procedures and avoid anything that reeks of micromanagement. Having different SPIFs running concurrently for different products can work well here.
  • The Searcher: This person will want to see the big picture and understand how his contributions will make a difference to consumers and to his organization. Make sure he understands how your products benefit your clientele, how his extra efforts will be a factor and how he’s valued as a part of the larger process. Leverage widgets such as progress meters that allow him to visualize his contributions to the bottom line.

Better understanding what makes different personalities tick can only help you as you create custom channel incentive programs for your partners, dealers, distributors, and others in your indirect network. Use every resource at your disposal to learn about the people involved in your programs so you can achieve optimal results.

WorkStride’s channel incentive software provides industry-leading audience building and segmentation tools that allow you to target promotions to specific groups of individuals based on demographic or sales data. Schedule a demo to see it in action!

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