Leveraging Incentives for Service & Non-Sales Audiences
When it comes to learning about a new product or service, who do you trust?
Family? Friends? Instagram influencers? You’re not alone. Most people self-report they find the most credible form of advertising to be recommendations from people they trust.
Today’s customers are guarded around salespeople, but that doesn’t mean organizations can’t influence their customers’ buying decisions. Non-sales roles, such as service reps, technicians and call center staff, understand the products and services customers are using, placing them in a unique position to generate brand referrals (even if they’re third-party positions). Because these customer-facing roles seek to make the customer experience better, they’re viewed as a reliable resource when customers are looking for a brand to solve their particular problems.
Incentivizing indirect audiences to help build stronger emotional connections between customers and your brand can result in valuable revenue streams.
Let’s look at some industry-specific examples.
A great partnership can start where you least expect it. Take the case of CPA firms, which are quickly becoming a steady source of referrals for technology manufacturers. When a CPA works on a business customer’s taxes, they become a trusted advisor to that organization. In many cases, they’ve worked with that business for years, have an established rapport and know what works best for them based on their business needs. A referral from a trusted CPA holds a lot of weight.
Technology companies are picking up on this trend and formalizing referral incentive programs for trusted advisor roles. For example, the Expensify referral program from an expense management technology provider was designed for technology services consultants and cloud evangelists who were looking for best-in-class cloud solutions for their clients. But it has a steady reputation beyond those partner types, and is a preferred partner for the AICPA and CPA.com. By looking outside of traditional tech consultancies and rewarding businesses that recognize a client’s need for this solution, they’ve greatly expanded their reach within the channel.
Imagine you have a service technician in your home helping to fix an issue with your internet. While there, they notice you have the latest video game console next to your TV and a couple of tablets as well. Since this likely means the homeowners use multiple devices at once, they recommend you consider their new high-speed internet to cut down on lag time while streaming and give you high-def resolution. Because the technician knows the products and services better than that customer, they’re able to solve their problems more effectively and provide better service.
ITA Group used a similar scenario to help create non-sales employee incentive programs for a leading telecom brand. Primarily focused on customer-facing work groups, it incented employees to watch for visual and verbal clues during normal customer interactions, make product and service recommendations, and (with the customer’s consent) submit referrals to their sales offices. Referrals were then routed to the appropriate sales channel, where a sales associate contacted the customer to complete the sale. In exchange for the successful referral, the service technician earns a reward.
Over the years, the non-sales employee incentive programs have generated over $1B of incremental revenue.
Employees have interacted with millions of customers and generated referrals on their behalf. The results are staggering when you put into context that these interactions, referrals and profits are the result of non-sales employees voluntarily participating in the various incentive programs.
Current customers of a service or product should also be seen as critical brand advocates worthy of engagement. More than 80% of Americans seek recommendations when making a purchase of any kind.
Tesla’s referral program capitalizes on this buyer behavior and offers perks to its current customers for referring friends and family to the company. If you use a current customer’s referral code to buy a new Tesla Model S or Model X, you get a compelling incentive: free, unlimited charging at Tesla Supercharging stations across the country, plus a $750 credit toward service or vehicle accessories. If someone uses your referral code to place a car order with Tesla, you’re also eligible for a reward. Referral rewards for Tesla cars differ based on the number of customers you successfully refer to Tesla.
In one earning structure, after five qualifying referral sales customers can get special wheels—a set of 21-inch forged aluminum Arachnid wheels which the company claims will offer improved performance. Given that these wheels are not available for purchase, having the Arachnid wheels is akin to a badge of honor.
Automotive Parts/Aftermarket Industry
Auto parts manufacturers thrive on the smart usage of incentive programs to create brand advocacy. These businesses make all the parts you buy when you go to places like NAPA Auto Parts or Auto Zone, and they supply parts to automobile dealerships around the world.
Let’s look at windshield wiper blades, for example. Without the use of incentive programs, service technicians will probably stick to products they know instead of offering new or different brands. A channel incentive program gives the manufacturer a way to create brand awareness and advocacy by offering service technicians rewards for learning about their products and then recommending them to customers.
ITA Group created a channel incentive that tripled the loan volume of enrolled F&I Managers at auto, RV and marine dealerships. The program was designed so that F&I managers at a car dealership would recommend a loan through a certain bank. The dealership and manager would then receive a reward in exchange for sending business the bank’s way.
The incentive program increased loan volume by the billions (up 95%). ROI was off the charts at 254%, and 89% of the channel showed increased engagement and loyalty.
Use Incentives to Unlock the Potential of Non-Sales Audiences
Every organization needs to think about how various roles impact the buyer’s journey and overall brand awareness.
Once those roles are identified, the right incentives can provide compelling motivation for those positions to drive success. Incentives go a long way to aligning people with your organization’s brand and products.
By engaging the non-sales audiences your customers already trust—whether they are partner organizations, other employees in your organization or even your own customers—you can strengthen your bottom line.
Learn more about using influencer channels to maximize your brand visibility and generate leads in the white paper.