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Inspire your Channel Partners by Leveraging Behavioural Economics

Nov 27, 2020

Applying Behavioural Economics principles is one of the proven ways for sales leaders to move the needle and emerge stronger with their sales motivation strategies.

It is no surprise that the current times are indisputably daunting, and have definitely affected our businesses on the growth front and the people we work with psychologically.  There is a clearly visible slump, sales have hit rock bottom and so is the morale. At such times, when everything seems bleak and gloomy with respect to sales, business and personal growth,  it becomes imperative for sales and business leaders to hit the right chords of motivation to drive behaviour change and show the right way forward.

Applying Behavioural Economics principles is one of the proven ways for sales leaders to move the needle and emerge stronger with their sales motivation strategies. As sales leaders we can’t build our resilience strategies based on mere speculations, it requires an understanding of the science behind human behaviour to pull the strings together.

Let’s look at some of the tried and tested strategies backed by the science of behavioural economics to inspire your channel partners.


Engaging the top-performing channel partners is quite straight forward and most of us as sales leaders, are doing a great job at it. How about the middle performers, or even the bottom layer? How relevant a far-fetched goal, that we set keeping only the top performers in mind, be for middle or bottom level channel partners?  It would never be motivating, and they will give up even before giving it a try.

Here’s where we can seal the deal by setting relevant goals basis the sales performance of your channel partners, give them a choice to self-select their goals which they believe are achievable. Apply the principle of Goal Gradient, make them feel closer to their goals, and align it with extrinsic motivation through rewards, and you’ll see them work harder than anyone, feel responsible, and motivated to meet their numbers. Why? Goal Gradient theory in action suggests that people will work harder to achieve a goal as they get closer to achieving it. That would result in incremental sales coming in from the middle and bottom layers of your channel partners, and not only from your top-performing partners.


A single impression isn’t enough to guarantee action, leave aside the final outcome. As per a recent study by BI WORLDWIDE, it takes 6 impressions to produce an action from your channel partners – this proves why communication nudges are so critical to driving specific behavioural outcomes. Here’s where we can apply another principle of behavioural economics, framing effect to nudge channel partners towards taking an action to help them meet their sales numbers. By leveraging the framing bias principle, we can influence the decision-making by presenting information associated with positive gain or negative loss which prompts an action – decision to participate in a program, decision to buy, decision to sell, decision to share or more.

Using Vividness nudge, (behavioural economics) BE principle commonly applied in design creative communication collaterals, is another way to stay top of mind and influence action and drive results. Create vivid communication material using high impact visuals, typography, bold headlines to capture their attention and prompt action.  And keep nudging to produce results.


Channel partners are the brand advocates for you. Enabling them with the right set of product training and collaterals is an integral part of your channel partner engagement strategy. Make them market-ready, give them a unique advantage and make them experts to push your products. Here’s where we can apply another BE principle – idiosyncratic fit by constructing a unique learning program that makes your channel partners smarter than the rest (to buy/sell smarter) in the market. BI WORLDWIDE’s Know, Feel, Do framework ensures channel partners are inspired with the right knowledge and encourage action according to how you intend.

Only when they know what is to be done and feel the need to do it, can they do it right. Design tailored, targeted programs that are personalised for specific learning environments to encourage engagement-driven performance. People’s memory bias only allows them to favour things they remember so make sure the content is engaging. They make decisions based on the initial information provided, so the beginning of the learning/ training has to encourage them to push for better sales. When your channel partners learn more, they understand the market trends and customer demand better and can respond appropriately, and are market ready to deliver results.


BE principles such as sociability, illusionary goal progress and re-consumption can be applied to drive engagement with your channel partners by introducing game mechanics like scoreboards, stack ranking, badges, missions, levels, and more.  Remember that your channel partners will participate only if they have the advantage of winning something or being rewarded with something that they can boost about.

Make the entire engagement social, where there’s an opportunity to share achievements or success stories and have others from the community acknowledge the same. Leverage the principle of sociability, let your channel partner show the hedonic reward, an all-paid expense trip to Bali for the entire family, they won by achieving a specific goal.

Keep introducing new smaller milestones till your channel partners achieve the final goal. This illusionary goal progress encourages them to reach the very end. While setting these goals make sure the rewards received at the end of each goal are personalised. When there is a perceived advantage attached, people are instantly keen on doing better.

Small behavioural nudges like a sales bingo, hedonic rewards exclusive experiences and other can go a long way in motivating them to perform better, thereby improving your sales. When motivated well, these channel partners become an integrated part of your team and begin to advocate your brand, which is what matters in the long run.


When it comes to rewards, what we say we want and what really motivates us are two completely different things. One of the most researched BE principle – preference reversal which in simpler terms also known as the say-do gap explains why, when asked most people say cash will change their behaviour – but when it comes to actually do that behaviour, more people are motivated by a non-cash (hedonic) reward.

In our experience of working with thousands of channel partners, what really motivates them are real-life experiences such as travel, luxurious merchandise, concert tickets, and rewards which are hedonic in nature, that they desire, or something they can show off or tell about to their friends and family while reiterating their success story. As sales leaders, we need to be mindful of this behaviour when it comes to assessing the overall rewards efficacy, cash is just a satisfier or more of a rational trigger to induce an action. It doesn’t really motivate a channel partner to perform at his best potential to get you the sales numbers. Simply because that’s not how humans function. Our rational thinking and anticipated rational behaviour are superseded by our emotions. To really inspire and motivate the channel partners, introduce the mix of hedonic rewards in your channel engagement strategies and experience the emotions taking over to deliver results.

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