Grow Sales Through Incentives

OP MANUFACTURERS
By Steve Damerow

How do you differentiate your wholesale offerings when competitors have similar product lines trying to sell to the same B2B audience? In a decent economy that, however, has not been able to grow more than 3 percent GDP over the past 10-plus years, how do you generate above average sales increases that your CFO demands?

The answer is to be among the first to take advantage of the new technology and smartphones that appeal to the majority of America’s workforce.

Baby boomers now make up less than 25 percent of the workforce, a number that is declining rapidly. Generations X, Y and Z are willing adopters of smartphone and social media culture and highly responsive to product offering methodology that blurs the line between B2B and B2C promotions.

Logoed caps and a cooler are no longer going to affect sales; instead take a lesson from your kids and research how business-to-consumer promotions seek and foster two-way engagement and interaction via phone-based infomercials, surveys and the holy grail of marketing – favorable reviews and testimonials.

According to Luke Kreitner, vice president of operations at Loyaltyworks: “Emails tend to have a 6 percent open rate. Add a way for the recipient to win a gift card or order a prize, and it goes up to 30 to 40 percent. Not bad but you can do better! The new demographic uses text and social media and when we do a contractor opt-in campaign via texts and offer a reward our open rate is in the 90 percent range.”

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A D&B 2016 study found that 58 percent of the B2B sales decision process is already researched and done by the time the buyer contacts or visits the seller. Now if you mate that with the fact that the average smart phone user looks at their phone more than 150 times per day and that more Google searches are done via phone than PC (51 percent vs. 42 percent) then you would be foolish not to take advantage of this ever increasing trend.

New state-of-the-art contractor/dealer B2B incentive programs take advantage of this trend by drastically increasing contact points with the decision maker, establishing long-term loyalty by creating a sense of community and generating a call to action via easy to accomplish and quick to reward sales SPIFS and rebates — all for far less expense and administrative hassle for the distributor staff and far less paperwork for the customer.

Although it used to take 8 to 12 weeks to get a rebate or SPIF check, now your customer can get a reloadable debit card or choice of 250-plus gift cards directly to their phone in minutes. If you can reduce the time and hassle to administer and deliver a reward you can reduce the cost of the award and get better benefit.

Modern smartphone technology dramatically increases decision maker contact points, creates a sense of community, fosters loyalty and testimonials, reduces the time and hassle of the distributor administrator, creates an opportunity to create and correct participant databases for future marketing, and makes the reward experience better for the participant. You can never have enough marketing or touch points.

Beacons have been a growing factor in B2C retail for a few years and with the cost coming down reflect a real opportunity for your counter sales. Simply put: beacons are your own personal radio stations that transmit only to your participants and only your message. Imagine your customer receiving a “special promotion” text as they near your location or a time triggered “free pizza” promotion around lunch time. The beacon message meshes with smartphone communication platforms.

Incentive promotions are no longer an after-thought. With the perfect storm of technology and an accepting client population, you would be remiss not to have a cutting edge effort that distinguishes you from your competition versus the traditional pricing game.

Steve Damerow is CEO of Incentive Solutions. He is a recognized expert and published author, and hosts the national radio show “Business Matters.” Incentive Solutions currently manages more than 100 incentive loyalty programs in the wholesale/distribution sector. He can be reached at: sdamerow@isicorporate.com or 678-514-0203. 

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