The Carrot: Incentivizing Portal Use
Incentives are a proven way to encourage desired behavior. Creating a rewards program that promotes portal usage can be one of the most effective strategies to drive distributor engagement. It is essentially the “carrot” approach. You reward distributors for portal adoption and usage, enticing them with a juicy 'carrot' that appeals to their business interests.
To effectively implement this strategy, develop an incentive program that aligns with distributors' goals. For instance, rewards could be almost anything of that would be of value to the distributor. The key is to ensure that the reward system is meaningful, motivating, and measurable. A well-structured incentive program can inspire distributors to regularly use the portal, ultimately driving portal adoption while simultaneously boosting distributor loyalty and performance.
- Offer a reward to the distributor location who has the highest average engagement with the portal - this will inspire competition of the right kind
- Everyone who logs in at least 10 separate days in a month is entered into a drawing for a new X (from a simple Amazon gift card up to a new iPhone)
- The 5 distributor reps who log in the most days this quarter get a X (free weekend +1 in Vegas, tickets to a Chris Stapleton concert)
If you look at those incentives and think they're expensive, it's nothing compared to the cost of an unused portal. The point being that a higher monetary value of the incentive is not always the most effective driver of behavior. Alternatives include public recognition as well as other rewards that don't carry a high cost but have a personal touch that makes them memorable.
The Stick: Imposing Penalties for Non-use
Another strategy to consider is the “stick” approach – creating negative consequences for not using the portal. While this might sound harsh initially, it's not about punishment but rather a way to underline the importance of portal adoption for mutual business success.
For example, you could consider implementing policies that delay order processing for manual orders or provide less favorable terms for those not utilizing the portal. Alternatively, access to certain exclusive products or promotions could be made available only through the portal. The key here is to communicate these policies clearly, emphasizing the benefits of portal usage for both parties. Transparency will help distributors understand why the stick approach is necessary, and how using the portal will ultimately benefit them.
- Anyone who doesn't log in at least X times per month is put on notice with the distributor sales manager notified by email
- A list of everyone who didn't log in a single time in a month is posted to the app monthly
- Anyone who doesn't use the portal in a month is given a one-time notice and put on a to be suspended list; second instance their account is terminated
Sometimes people operate more urgently from a potential negative consequence than from a potential positive one. The goal here is not to humiliate anyone, but rather to break through the blockers to adoption that naturally raise in a creative way. And ultimately, if it's an expectation of the job, then make it clear what will happen in the event of non-compliance.
Making it Useful: A Tool to Simplify Work
Distributors are more likely to use a portal if it's user-friendly, efficient, and most importantly, useful. That is why it's crucial to make the portal a tool that makes their job easier. From accessing product information and tracking orders, to making payments and resolving issues, the portal should simplify everyday tasks. Providing an intuitive user interface, integrating functions that automate manual tasks, and delivering real-time information can drastically improve user experience and motivate portal usage.
Consider offering training and resources to help distributors familiarize themselves with the portal. This could take the form of video tutorials, FAQs, or even a dedicated helpline. A user-friendly, beneficial portal is much more likely to be used consistently, translating into efficiency gains for all involved.
- Make your portal available offline (via app) so your users can access it whenever they need it
- Provide instant access to content, for both live customer conversations and self-education
- Offer instant ROI, cost, and other mobile sales calculators
Distributors will certainly be more likely to see value in the portal if it makes their job easier by simply being useful. In many cases, it's a particular feature of the portal that drives adoption for certain users. Meaning: don't assume a single feature will be equally relevant for everyone.
Making it Indispensable: An Essential Business Tool
Finally, the ultimate strategy is to make the portal indispensable. When the portal becomes integral to the distributors’ business operations, they are more likely to use it. This could mean the portal is the primary source of critical information like pricing, inventory levels, delivery schedules, or even the main channel for placing orders.
The key here is to integrate the portal deeply into your business processes, making it the hub for all necessary distribution activities. It may require a significant investment of time and resources, but the payoff is a portal that is not just an option for distributors, but a business necessity. This strategy ensures that portal usage becomes second nature for distributors, embedding it into their daily workflow.
- Provide a link to real-time product availability
- Offer a quote generator that includes the ability to configure a product and then send out a professional looking quote for approval
- Include integrated ordering for new product and aftermarket parts
The ultimate way to drive mass adoption of the portal is to make usage of it indispensable to your users. Beyond useful, this now makes it a requirement of doing their job, which unlocks the potential of the entire portal and all that it can do.
Getting distributors to use a portal is all about understanding their needs and aligning your strategies accordingly.
By using a blend of incentives (the carrot), creating an awareness of consequences for non-use (the stick), making the portal highly beneficial (useful), and embedding it into essential business processes (indispensable), you can successfully drive portal adoption among distributors.
The end result is a mutually beneficial arrangement, where both your business and your distributors reap the rewards of streamlined processes, enhanced communication, and increased efficiency.