What do partners want more than discounts and rebates? That’s the question I posed to Balaji Subramanian, SVP and Global Channel Chief at Igel. Before this interview, I didn’t know much about this successful edge computing company. They have a very interesting channel story of transformation.

Igel launched 21 years ago as a hardware company with a 100% channel, traditional 2-tier model with distributors and VARs. As they transitioned to being being a software company, they added System Integrators and MSPs to their partner ecosystem. And now they are moving to the SaaS subscription model.

Balaji stepped in as Igel’s channel chief one year ago and is modernizing their partner program to align with their new go to market model. One of the areas he’s focused on are partner incentives. Taking advice from his Partner Advisory Council, he’s replacing traditional back-end rebates with bespoke investments to help his partners drive more land, adopt, and expand motions in their customers’ journey.


Here are the top 5 things I learned from Balaji about partner incetives:

  • Don’t operate in a vacuum. Get out an talk to your partners to find out what they need to grow your SaaS business. It may not be what you think.
  • One size doesn’t fit all. Uniform rebate programs will only motivate some of your partners, and may not drive any change in behaviour.
  • Be flexibile in how you invest in each of your partners. Develop a bespoke investment capability based on each partner’s business plan. 
  • Examples of bespoke investments include paying for your partner to hire a business development rep or build a demo lab for your solution.
  • Ask the right questions in your deal registration to learn more about the partner’s role in the deal and be more intelligent about how to support the partner. 
  • Build dashboards to track partner peformance and to hold your own company accountable for supporting your partners.


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