There’s a lot of buzz about the manufacturing industry returning to the United States. People are excited to see things get built in our country. They’re excited for a comeback. But as many manufacturers know, while there may be a general sense of enthusiasm, it can be a challenge to get your vendors — the people and channels who sell your product directly to consumers — to have the same passion you have.
You know your product inside out. You live and breathe it and have a connection with details others just don’t see. Unfortunately, many manufacturers have probably felt the frustration when it seems that vendors look at your product as just another item to sell, something to be translated into a number that’s needed for their quarterly goals.
How can you make your passion contagious through your contractor/installer/dealer network?
Contractor Loyalty Programs Offer Additional Perks For Regular Sales
Let’s start from the point of view of the seller. There’s a lot of work that goes into knowing the ins and outs of a product—numerous meetings with manufacturing reps, handouts on product information and improvements, and much more that might not be useful or efficient for the contractors who are looking to expand their business.
To put it in business terms, vendors only have so much bandwidth, and to become an expert in any one product takes up a lot of bandwidth. Therefore, manufacturers should look for ways to make it easier, to lessen the gap. It’s in their own interest.
This is one reason why contractor loyalty platforms have so much to offer. They promise an intuitive, user-friendly platform to educate vendors, create demand, manage sales, target customers and more. Basically, they provide a structured development path (complete with incentives) as a way to make it easy for your partners to learn and better sell your products.
Of course, you need partners to sign in and use this service. The way this is traditionally done is by enticing them with incentives. But, first, you need to know how to best use your incentive program.
The Real Purpose of Contractor Loyalty Programs
When it comes to implementing an incentive program, it’s easy to overspend or fail to do it properly. Some manufacturers limit themselves to thinking an incentive program is a matter of simply handing out gift cards or money to the top contractors—“Hey, you did great this month! Here’s a $25 card to Home Depot for your trouble.”
These programs are capable of so much more, and should achieve the following three goals:
- Motivate your channel to perform and become invested in your products.
- Nurture your relationship by educating channel partners on your products and helping them better reach their business goals.
- Reward your reps for the results they achieve in sales, education and product knowledge.
A good incentive or loyalty program should ultimately make your vendors excited about your product. With excitement, sales will follow and your relationship will become that much stronger.
A good platform can motivate your channel partners by providing tools that make it easy to:
- Create loyalty programs and run SPIFF promotions
- Segment so that your partners get the promotions and education that allow them to better target their market
- Educate and train
- Analyze data based on partner performance, education, training and rewards to learn what programs are most effective
- Create contests that foster a sense of competition between reps and will motivate them to hone their skills and sell more
The idea here is that the reward they receive, whether it’s a gift card or cash, should just be the proverbial cherry on top.
If properly run, a contractor loyalty program will be a valuable resource that motivates your indirect sales organization to sell more. It improves their bottom line, first and foremost. And when that happens, they start to become more interested in what you manufacture, and they start to have the same passion and investment in your products that you do.