Top sales organizations treat their reps like customers, according to McKinsey & Company. But what does that mean, in today’s shifting sales landscape?
Loyalty is more fluid than ever, calling for new ways to win over both customers and sales reps. Consumer rewards and loyalty programs have helped merchants better understand their customers’ needs and use that information to sway purchasing behaviors. Factors like choice of payment and how quickly they receive incentives can influence consumers to choose one provider over another.
These insights have powerful implications for the sales space. For one, independent salespeople have choices — not so different from customers choosing between cable providers or coffee shops. When deciding who to work for, B2B sales reps consider reasons like connection with leadership and whether they believe the company can meet evolving market needs. In other words, they want to feel confident in the brand they’ve chosen to rep for.
Compensation was also a big factor, with 89% of reps citing this as a reason to switch sales organizations. But attracting and retaining top salespeople relies on a more complex picture of compensation than the bottom line reveals. These three lessons from the consumer incentives space reveal that the way you pay your sales reps — not just how much you pay — could drive their loyalty, motivation, and success.
Lesson 1: Choice matters
Enhancing an incentives program to drive desired results comes with a bouquet of options for organizations, but what matters most is the end user’s choice. While many sales organizations add fun extras to their compensation model — like travel incentives and gifts — giving reps their choice of incentive may be even more impactful.
45% of consumers preferred digital, open loop cards to other incentives, according to Wirecard’s 2019 Consumer Incentives Survey. This preference holds true for many sales reps. Whereas a giveaway or closed-loop gift card does not offer the choice of how to spend, an open-loop card can be used anywhere, for both splurges and essentials.
Other benefits of branded digital cards include rich data on sales rep performance — which could help drive engagement and success. Reps could even gain cashback rewards when they spend their cards on certain kinds of purchases.
The takeaway: When boosting your incentives program to motivate reps, an open-loop card offers freedom and flexibility. Not only do cardholders get free choice of how to spend, but digital cards come with added value for both organizations and reps.
Lesson 2: Incentives drive loyalty
For most consumers, incentives influence loyalty to favorite brands. Over 75% said a reward or rebate inspired them to make another purchase, and the majority said a positive incentives experience drove loyalty behaviors, like social sharing.
Loyalty is just as important to sales organizations. Since independent sales reps work for themselves, they could potentially sell for more than one organization — including across borders. The average US freelancer works with 4.5 clients a month, suggesting that independent salespeople are not tied to just one firm. In Germany, over half of independent B2B sales reps work for at least one international company.
Salespeople also have options in the B2C space. The Direct Selling Association currently has 120 member companies offering opportunities for independent consultants. So, attracting and retaining salespeople means cultivating the same kind of brand affinity that drives consumer loyalty.
A big part of this is ensuring your incentive program stands out. Digital payments achieve just that, by offering branded payment solutions like physical or virtual cards. Branded cards keep your organization top of mind and become a feature of users’ everyday lives, as they spend their earnings. Plus, they’re a unique option in a payment landscape where reps are commonly paid by ACH or wire transfer.
The takeaway: The way you pay is part of your brand, and brand affinity is as important to sales reps as to customers. Your choice of digital payment solution conveys your organization’s values, influencing sales rep loyalty.
Lesson 3: Digital tools drive results.
In Wirecard’s 2019 Consumer Incentive survey, 62% said a mobile app would make managing their loyalty rewards even easier. It’s no stretch to infer that sales reps also want digital tools to manage their incentives.
The highest-performing sales reps use the most technology and tend to be willing to adopt new tech tools to get the job done. They also respond to digital nudges. A beverage company that started sending daily SMS messages with information on personal performance and market insights saw a $25 million increase in gross margin, within a year. That’s proof that connecting with reps in small ways can make a big difference.
Digital incentive-tracking tools offer similar potential. For instance, you could incorporate gamification into your incentive program, creating a rewards culture that’s fun as well as lucrative for your team. And, you could build in milestone-based rewards that encourage your reps at every step. When reps can easily map the connection between their performance and earnings, they’re more likely to go the extra mile.
The takeaway: A digital incentive program offers tools and benefits that help drive performance. Sales organizations can harness the power of digital to make their incentive programs more engaging. Plus, reps can track earnings and build affinity with your brand when they spend.