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You might be thinking, “what are B2B sales growth alternatives?”
When your business is experiencing signs of growth, that’s normally a sign that things are working. Growth represents success both within and outside of the organisation, from employees to the market itself. You can sit back, relax, and reap the rewards!
However, there are many external circumstances that can prevent growth from being a key marker for the success of your business, and that shouldn’t be a secret to a lot of Australian and New Zealand businesses over the past few years. Stock issues, supply chain interruptions, and economic factors such as inflation will have caused customer bases to pause before opening their wallets, and this in turn is a certainty to affect growth margins.
These factors present issues to many organisations currently providing growth incentive programs to secure continued loyalty from their bases. After all, with no guarantees for economic growth, funding and delivery of these programs become more challenging to provide. So, what can a business do in this case?
In this blog, we’ll cover 4 loyalty and incentive program design options to explore when growth isn’t a surety.
Our first B2B growth alternative begins here! And with that, the first step to take when considering how to replace a growth incentive program is to go back to what you initially set out to achieve with your program. Growth is good, but at its heart, each incentive program sets out to solve a specific pain point facing the business.
So, to best decide what to measure, you need to focus on your objective, rather than the return. Here are some things to consider when reflecting on this:
These are some points that will allow you to make an informed decision when working out which outcome you’d like to base your program design.
Flexibility is one of the strongest factors of an incentive or loyalty program, as the program can be adapted to changing business needs on the fly. By including elements aligning with the evolving focus of the business, you can shift the focus of your program accordingly.
We recommend viewing a program as a dynamic tool to support an incentive or loyalty offer. Here’s an example of how one of our clients in the food industry managed to pull this off!
During the COVID lockdowns, one client in food service distribution felt that their program, designed around growth targets and target-based offers, was not ideal for the current market – especially considering the 85% decline that had happened so suddenly.
Working with the client, we helped them pivot their program to service other objectives:
This allowed them to maintain their relationships with distributors, and it expressed that the supplier had an understanding of the current climate. This program then returned a wealth of goodwill, with 64% of distributors maintaining monthly purchases. By providing understanding and support, this put the client’s products front of mind for their customers.
Alternatively, rewarding customers for purchasing product bundles is a good way around growth targets. For example, instead of ‘buy X, get Y’, you could offer ‘buy A + B, and get C’ – allowing you to retain your customer’s share of wallet while still incentivising them to spend more with your program for a better return.
By offering accessories or add-on products – such as upgrades, tints, service or other aftermarket sales in automotive sales, you can still provide additional value to your customers, as well as supplementing sales with items that would directly benefit the purchaser.
By providing added value and offering unique opportunities to upgrade a customer’s purchase, you can increase revenue in challenging market conditions. All you need to do is think creatively about what would benefit your customer, while still moving specific stock that may otherwise be difficult in tight markets.
The third option to consider when growth may not be feasible is to provide status levels to your customers. Status points can be used to level up in a loyalty or incentive program, allowing customers to unlock events or added benefits – and is a tried and true game changer and can also be budget friendly.
Status and emotional success can be achieved by providing leader boards in your programs to tap into your participants’ competitive natures. Once participants initially reach a status level, they’ll do whatever they can to maintain it.
To facilitate this change, we’d recommend revising the dialogue from achieving growth to rewarding targeted behaviours, as this can help you achieve other objectives. For example, you could attach status points to:
These are alternatives to rewarding growth and great ways to strengthen your relationship with customers, which will bring the benefits back to you. Programs should be considered a symbiotic relationship between the business and their clients, providing additional value in exchange to continued support.
Similarly, a good way to change direction in your program is to change direction in your reward offer. This will allow you to update your objective changes by reviewing where rewards are placed in terms of tiers and point costs. Adjusting them to lower levels in order to compliment the redirection of targets, something many of our client’s successful programs have achieved. When growth is out of reach, repositioning rewards with your updated target can still lead to success.
For example, your program can shift rewards from travel incentives to merchandise and experiential rewards. This allows your business to provide value with a lower overhead cost, and still achieve specific margins you’ve set out. Alternatively, you could leverage internal benefits, such as status changes, to offer better trade terms or delivery items.
Flexibility and creativity are your two best allies in ensuring your loyalty program can deliver the preferred outcomes.
Finally, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of goodwill and customer knowledge that can be generated by your program. This isn’t limited to industry – there are plenty of options to enhancing B2B relationships and customer goodwill.
At 212F, we understand the challenges of our clients and adjust their programs when demand softens, which allows us to demonstrate that we’re all in it together.
By showing the value you place on the relationship with your customers, your business will be able to secure a maintained spend. This can be considered as good as growth, as you’re maintaining the greater share of wallet from your customers which is likely to return once the factors suppressing additional spend dissipate.
If you have an established program or want to develop one, and rewarding growth isn’t possible right now, there are many effective alternatives and solutions to try, but the best one we can recommend is to reach out today. We’ve been the lead B2B loyalty program agency servicing Australia and New Zealand since 1996 – we know what we’re talking about!
Let us create a program that relies on more than just sales growth!