For companies that are just starting out with an incentive program, we tend to say that simpler is better. If your target audience has never heard of incentives before, throwing a lot of complex rules and an elaborate structure at them isn’t exactly going to build excitement right off the bat. So, a simple “sell this, get that” rewards program is often where our clients like to begin.
But what about when it’s time for a change? What if your program starts to feel stale to participants? What if you start looking towards other goals beyond sales growth?
In this article, let’s walk through the story of APC by Schneider Electric, a manufacturer of power solutions for IT companies. APC’s initial program, which kicked off over ten years ago, began as a basic points program for their distributor partners. Over time, they came to incorporate more complex strategies as their goals evolved, most notably an extremely successful short-term promotion focused on channel enablement. Here’s the story of how that promotion opened a new direction for the company’s incentive strategy, helping it evolve into the program it has today.
The Promotion: Conquering the Edge
At the start, if a distributor in APC’s channel sold certain APC SKUs as part of their power solutions, they could then claim that transaction on the program site and be rewarded with a certain amount of points that they could redeem for prizes within a rewards catalog.
The program was strong and had built up a successful participant base over the years, and eventually APC decided to expand the program to address new pain points and achieve new goals. One major goal had been to help their partners better sell one of its offerings, Edge computing, by completing an hour-long certification course. Before they started incentivizing the certification, completion of the course was low, and so APC turned to its points program for a solution.
The resulting promotion, “Conquer the Edge,” is a classic example of the powerful results that even a short-term strategy can deliver. During the three-month promotion, program participants who completed the Edge certification were rewarded with an entry into a sweepstakes to win an all-inclusive trip to their choice of the Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu, or the Kenai and Denali mountains.
A second prize—a two-night stay in a luxury hotel and tickets to a sporting event or concert—was also offered. Along with sweepstakes entries, participants who completed the certification also received a point bonus to keep the promotion linked to the long-term program and encourage participant engagement.
The results of the program were immediately clear—while APC had seen only around 11 Edge certifications per month prior to the promotion’s start, during the promotion they saw an average of a hundred certifications per month.
And the long-term effect of an enablement promotion like this? Hundreds of distributor partners who were better able to promote and sell APC’s products down the channel. Following the successful results, Brad Lipscomb, Senior Director of Channel Operations at APC, said, “HMI”s deep expertise and unparalleled creativity has enabled us to deliver a global program that our channel partners love and are truly proud to participate in.”
Moving Forward: mySchneider Rewards
Often, a simple incentive program can take your business to new heights beyond what you could have imagined. But sometimes a changeup is needed. For APC, the “Conquer the Edge” promotion proved to be a watershed moment in their program’s evolution.
APC eventually closed its old program and initiated a new one, mySchneider Rewards, which focuses on incentivizing a variety of preferred behaviors, including—but not limited to—sales growth. While roughly half the program is dedicated to the classic “sell this, get that” structure, the other half builds off of the success of “Conquer the Edge,” focusing on rewarding preferred behaviors in its participants like:
- Completing eLearning modules and certifications
- Attending in-person training
- Bundling services and recommending APC service plans to partners
- Other steps-to-the-sale activities
In general, APC’s new program focuses on the dual goals of sales growth, on the one hand, and helping their distributor partners become brand advocates and APC experts on the other.
Plenty of companies are happy to stay with a simple rewards program, which can deliver incredible returns. But new challenges also prompt us to change things up, and that can mean changing up the incentive strategy as well.
For APC, the “Conquer the Edge” promotion showed how successful making those changes could be. What started as a short-term strategy aimed at achieving a singular goal evolved into an entire program relaunch with a more complex strategy that allows them to focus on multiple goals at once. In an era of business where change management is critical, having a dynamic incentive program that’s able to adapt is often the key to success.