Principles Of Using Incentive & Loyalty Programs To Grab Market Share

By: Kevin Martin

Great NewsDo you like good news?  A colleague recently sat down with a prospect company who are in a space where business is absolutely incredible right now.  In fact one of the main problems this company faces is how can they possibly ramp up production to meet demand while at the same time maintaining the quality that built their brand. I have always loved to hear about people doing well but, especially in the last few years, it is really great to hear some good news; wouldn’t you agree?

If you’re in a marketplace where business is booming, one thing you’ve probably noticed is that people really start to eye up each other’s lunch a little bit more hungrily than usual. Cash is flowing well so if there was ever a time to make a good offence, that is the time, right? If you’re in just such a space right now, first of all congratulations. Let’s look at how you can leverage incentive programs to grab some of that tasty, tasty market share.

It Happens On The Front Line1. It happens on the floor.

Make no mistake, this battle is won at the front lines. General, have you given your soldiers everything they need for this fight? In fact; who are they fighting for?  If you plan to grow your market share, step one is definitely to make sure that you have a champion on the floor in all the most critical outlets where your products are being sold.  There are six ways to make sure you are doing this, and I would highly recommend a read of our e-book The Six Reasons That Front Line Salespeople Sell for more detail on this point.

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Let’s assume that your quality is great, you’ve offered great product knowledge and your brand is highly visible. Here are a couple things in your wheelhouse if you are in channel marketing and want to build these champions: make sure your field sales reps have identified these champions and if they can’t identify them, make sure that they are doing the work to build these relationships. Then, get to work on your incentive program.   How about a good old-fashioned sales spiff? Great. 

Eager Beavers2. Make sure your program is compelling.

The measure of a great incentive program is, of course, the effect that it has on driving the desired behavior; in this case, sales.  When designing your program, it’s time to put yourself in the shoes of that counter person or retail sales associate (RSA).

Assuming all other elements are in place (quality, training etc.) your sales spiff offer has to be compelling enough to change that person’s behavior. Maybe today they gravitate to other brands, maybe they don’t really care whose goods they sell…whatever makes them do what they do habitually, we need to shake them out of it. We need to make them think of your brand every time they stand in front of a potential customer.  How do you make your program compelling?  If you have time, I would highly recommend this recent report from the Incentive Research Foundation which offers an in-depth look at prepaid cards in incentive, rewards and recognition programs.

  • Gather some competitive intelligence, especially if there is a particular competitor you are looking to grab market share from. Know what everyone else is doing and then:
  • Make sure your incentive amount is competitive.  
  • Make sure you have an effective communication strategy to ensure that all the right people are aware of your program. This is critical.
  • Make sure there are as few barriers as possible in your claim process.  People are more incented when they are actually getting paid and if you make it too tough for them to claim their incentive, it’s not going to work.

And finally, this one is so important it gets its own section:

Pay Quickly And See That Lift3. Pay fast.   

Sometimes it seems like we’re always having this discussion, but it’s a fact: we have interviewed hundreds of storeowners and front line salespeople and nearly all told us that if a manufacturer takes too long to pay out on their incentive program, it loses a great deal of its power to incent the sellers.

We recommend “open” loadable cards; loadable obviously meaning cards that can be loaded remotely and quickly and open meaning not tied to a specific place where the recipient must spend the reward.  Remember, these folks are salespeople at work but outside they are just people like you and I who need all the same regular things you and I need. Give them the choice to get what they need thanks to you and your program. If they’re paying for their groceries, putting a deposit on a new vehicle, buying a holiday or whatever it may be and they’re throwing down a prepaid card branded with your company logo, you can bet that selling more of your goods  is on their mind.

Kevin Martin 360 IncentivesKevin Martin is a Sales Channel Incentive Specialist at   Connect with him on LinkedIn right here.