The benefits of a contractor incentive program are well-known. Contractor incentives can help you increase sales, build brand loyalty, and engage your contractors. A truly optimized incentive program has added benefits that can lengthen your program’s lifespan, making it a flexible, expansive tool you can use to boost your B2B sales strategies. Let’s take a look at top strategies for optimizing an incentive program while avoiding the common mistakes that can hinder its performance:
1. Plan Ahead and Set Appropriate Goals
Your incentive program goals should follow the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) structure. Your goals should be informed by research into your current market position and sales priorities. You might consider working with a sales channel or data expert to help identify areas of opportunity, or friction in your distribution network.
2. Identify and Track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Failing to define and track your key performance indicators (KPIs) prevents you from knowing whether your contractor incentive program is achieving its goals or not. Once you’ve established goals for the program, outline your measurements for achievement. KPIs will vary depending on your program’s goals, but there are also standard KPIs that point to the success of most incentive programs, such as:
- Open, click, and bounce rates of the program’s email communications.
- The percentage of your target audience who are enrolled in the program.
- The average time it takes a participant to enroll in the program after being invited.
- The program’s activity and engagement levels (i.e. number of program logins, reward distribution and redemption activity, and interaction with the program website or app).
With clearly defined and regularly tracked KPIs, you can ensure your program’s success is evident and reproducible.
3. Get Personal
Studies have shown an increasing need for B2B companies to build trust, personalize interactions, and add a human touch to the buying experience. This isn’t easy with distribution sales models that have traditionally been impersonal.
An incentive program is a great opportunity to deepen your contractor relationships. By combining personalized marketing methods (name tokens, dynamic content, audience segmentation) with incentive program data from their reward history and activity, you can build a 360-degree personal and professional picture of your contractor.
4. Deliver Consistent, Multichannel Communication
With unpredictable weather conditions and unexpected disasters, roofing contractors are busy. They’re also inundated with thousands of marketing messages daily. In order to stay top of mind, you need to deliver incentive program communication consistently and through multiple channels. Reaching out to participants regularly through email, phone calls, texts, website content, and physical mail will support interest and engagement in your program.
5. Use Non-Cash Rewards
Cash rewards can be quickly and easily dispersed, which makes them seem like an appealing incentive reward option. However, cash-based rewards have an inferior emotional impact when compared to tangible rewards that can be presented in ways that make them more memorable. Over time, a recipient sees less difference between cash rewards and their salary. These factors make non-cash rewards three times more cost effective than cash rewards.
6. Use a Reward Type That Suits Your Goals
Different incentive rewards have varying advantages and benefits. Merchandise or online points programs provide diverse, “low-hanging fruit” rewards that help you motivate and engage a wider contractor audience over the long-term. Debit and gift card rewards work well for international audiences, as there are virtual card options. Incentive travel is a great reward for retaining your top contractors. Consider your options carefully and choose the reward that best fits your objectives and audience.
7. Utilize Online Claims Submission and Upload Tools
If the wait time is too long between a contractor submitting a sales claim and receiving a reward, it can hinder your program’s effectiveness. Use incentive program software that features claims verification tools so contractors can instantly upload receipts, invoices, or registrations. You can then instantly begin the claims verification process and deliver rewards by depositing rebate funds directly into their reloadable debit card or rebate program account.
8. Integrate Your Incentive Program with Your CRM
Business software solutions have improved the channel in so many ways, but the sheer amount of channel technology pouring onto market comes with an issue: gathering the channel data from all those programs into a single, complete, and widely accessible customer profile.
Integrate your incentive program with your CRM and other channel technologies so you can sync customer data with a master customer profile. Reward redemption, program activity, and sales promotion data helps you build better incentive strategies and gain greater channel insights.
9. Budget for the Program Strategically
You could be missing out on cost-saving opportunities by not considering all the options in your incentive program budget. You likely have some elasticity with product pricing, for example. If you provide great products, your customers won’t mind paying a few dollars more, which you can then use to fund your incentive programs. You could also use MDFs, which share program costs with a co-op of non-competing companies, or divide up expenses between marketing and sales departments.
In a sales channel, you’re not the only one who benefits from a lift in sales. Consider who else stands to benefit from the program’s success. You can likely join forces with them to maximize your incentive program’s performance.
10. Measure Return on Investment (ROI)
The best way to ensure continuing buy-in and funds for your incentive program is to accurately track and prove ROI. As an Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) study found, large companies that viewed hard metrics unnecessary to justifying their incentive programs dropped from 57% to 39% between 2018 and 2019. Increasing scrutiny of incentive programs makes it crucial to work with an incentive company that provides ROI tracking and analytics, as well as strategic expertise.
A contractor incentive program provides opportunities for long-term, incremental sales growth and ways to creatively stand out in your marketplace. It’s not always easy to make solid, memorable connections with your contractors, but an incentive program helps you add emotion, excitement, and personal value to your buyer’s experience. Dodge common problems and improve your program to ensure it’s an agile asset that responds to the evolving needs of your sales channel.