It’s time to expand your view of contractor incentive programs. Yes, you can use contractor incentive programs to increase sales, build brand preference, and gather better data. But by strictly focusing on end results, manufacturers and distributors are missing an important opportunity to solidify channel partnerships and build authentic loyalty.
Your contractor incentive program is a chance to provide meaningful channel partner enablement to your contractors. Providing training and education that make it easier for contractors to sell your products gives contractors a reason to sell your products that goes even deeper than reward points, rebates, or SPIFFs.
In “Solidify Partnerships With Incentives, Education,” published in the latest edition of Distribution Trends by ACHR News, Incentive Solutions President and CEO Mark Herbert discusses this topic in-depth. We’ll be using quotes from his article to explain how manufacturers and distributors can use incentives to provide better channel partner enablement.
Why Channel Partner Enablement for Contractors Is So Important
Before getting into how to provide channel partner enablement to your contractors, let’s explore the why. Why is channel enablement so important?
To quote Mark Herbert:
“[End users rely] on the expertise (and preferences) of contractors. If an HVACR contractor doesn’t present an option, chances are most end users won’t be aware that particular option exists.”
Contractors have very little incentive to stray away from brands they are already familiar with.
“[Contractors] are typically concerned with reducing overhead while ensuring customer satisfaction. This means that contractors are usually motivated to stick to solutions they know from brands they trust. Generally, once they find a product that fits their formula, they’re reluctant to switch things up.”
Tips for Providing Channel Enablement Through Your Contractor Incentive Program
It's up to manufacturers and distributors to find ways to engage contractors and provide motivation and educations to help them sell your products. This is where your contractor incentive program comes into play. Mark Herbert gives manufacturers and distributors these four tips for providing contractor enablement:
- Present a compelling value proposition upfront.
- Pre-package product and brand education into easily-consumable pieces.
- Make it easy to access and interact with educational material.
- Offer positive reinforcement.
Contractor Rewards: A Compelling Value Proposition
Incentive rewards are an easily communicated value proposition that drive brand engagement and open the door for providing channel partner enablement. To quote Mark Herbert:
“With email open rates and click through rates that are up to 268% and 780% higher than industry benchmarks, respectively, a contractor incentive program offers many opportunities to slip in information about your products and your brand that just might make the difference when contractors decide who to recommend for their next project.”
You can also reward contractors for attending training (virtual or on-site), gaining certifications, or for completing online quizzes.
Offering Education in Bite-Size Pieces
Mark Herbert suggests focusing on making educational material “light, brief, and easily consumed,” at least until contractors are more invested in your brand. Remember, they are here for the rewards! Once your contractors are redeeming points for exciting rewards, you can up the value proposition of the program to inspire them to engage with more in-depth channel partner enablement.
Focus on communicating only the most essential points that will help contractors to sell your products to end-users. Structuring quizzes and training around brief videos and content can help them learn more about your products without overloading them with information.
Making Your Contractor Incentive Program More Accessible
The success of your contractor incentive program depends on making it easy for contractors to access your program. With the skilled labor shortage, contractors’ time is in high demand. Mark Herbert recommends making your channel partner enablement material accessible across a variety of channels. These include:
- Integrating your contractor incentive program with your company website.
- Offering a mobile app for your contractor program.
- Communicating with contractors through email, SMS, push notifications, and direct mail.
- Providing interactive platforms for channel partner enablement.
This way, contractors can engage with your program, even when they’re out in the field.
Using Positive Reinforcement
Finally, you will want to reward contractors for taking part in your channel partner enablement program. This is what we call “closing the loop.” Rewarding participants for taking actions that help your business will make those behaviors more likely to be repeated in the future.
To quote Mark Herbert:
“Providing a selection of great rewards will create positive brand interactions and keep contractors coming back for more.”
By following these steps, your contractor incentive program will become more than a tool for sales growth. It will become a platform that empowers you to provide the kind of channel partner enablement that creates authentic brand loyalty. When your channel partnerships are mutually beneficial and rooted in trust, your competitors will have a hard time keeping up!