In channel sales, you’re often out of touch with the suppliers, customers, and end-users who matter most. When you don’t have direct communication with those who use your product, you have to rely on purchase data to “see” and understand what your customers need, when they need it. A B2B customer loyalty program can help you motivate channel partners to submit purchase information that helps you build up accurate, up-to-date customer data.

My experience working with clients has allowed me to identify these best practices for using loyalty programs as a method of gaining valuable B2B customer data:

  1. Offer irresistible incentive rewards.

    No matter how you present them, undesirable incentives won’t change anyone’s behaviors. Everyone has different tastes, so it’s impossible to offer one reward that appeals to your entire sales channel or customer base. The solution? Let them choose their own rewards. Distribute online reward points for desired behaviors (submitting invoices, warranty registrations, customer surveys, etc.), which they can then redeem for items in an online rewards catalog. Incentive Solutions offers a rewards catalog featuring millions of merchandise rewards, along with travel and event ticket items, giving all your channel customers the opportunity to earn rewards that are truly motivating. We also developed the Uniquely Yours feature, which allows high point earners to redeem their points for significant rewards like home renovations, college tuition and loan pay-offs, vehicles and more.

  2. Use loyalty program apps to facilitate better, faster data exchange.

    To encourage optimum adoption of your customer loyalty program, it must be easy and convenient for participants. They’re not going to take part if they feel like they’re just jumping through hoops. The magic combination of convenience and rewards gives your customers the incentive to do things they previously considered not worth the time and effort.

    One of the ways loyalty rewards can be made convenient is through the use of loyalty program apps. The Incentive Solutions mobile app is designed to make sales claims validation and reward redemption faster and easier. Your sales reps or customers simply scan a product UPC or snap a picture of an invoice while on-site and upload the documentation into your loyalty program. The app can be paired with Performance Tracking and claims verification features so you can automatically audit claims and distribute rewards. As reps submit more and more claims through this instantly gratifying system, you not only increase sales, but begin to amass customer data from invoices and other submitted documents.

  3. Run strategic sales promotions and extensive reporting.

    Often, incentive programs just end up being more administrative burden for already-overwhelmed managers to oversee. But sophisticated loyalty program software lets you to run multiple, simultaneous sales promotions with specific channel customer participants. For example, you can schedule a three-month promotion designed specifically to motivate contractors to sell more units from a new, energy-efficient product line. Targeted promotions help you zero in on certain customers and end-users, so you can gather data on the groups most influential to your sales.

    Advanced online incentive technology provides important program performance information that allows you to collect customer and participant data. One of the complaints I hear most often from B2B sales and marketing professionals is the lack of real-time, easily accessible data on their incentive program’s performance. Our solution was to offer our clients free reports they can export directly from the program at any time. As you analyze these reports, you can identify pain points, trends, and customer purchasing patterns.

  4. Use sales promotion results to improve your customer data quality.

    What do you do once your loyalty program has allowed you to collect customer and sales data? Use that data to refine your sales and marketing strategies, gathering even better data. You can compare the results of sales promotions to discover new opportunities and potential for growth. Every time you do this, your data will become cleaner and your sales and marketing strategies will be more effective.

In today’s markets, there’s no shortage of people offering shady methods of acquiring customer data. But if you want to gather your customer information and clean up your database the right way, customer loyalty programs are one of the best strategies. This is because customer loyalty incentives are mutually beneficial for both parties. Your sales channel partners enjoy their earned rewards, while you enjoy a stream of clean, updated customer data.

<strong>About </strong>Mark Herbert

About Mark Herbert

Mark Herbert is President and CEO of Incentive Solutions. He has more than 30 years of experience overseeing business operations within the incentives industry, helping companies increase channel sales, build customer loyalty, motivate employees, and grow their business.

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