Loyalty Incentive Programs – Where to Begin with Business-to-Business (B2B)

Loyalty between businesses comes with numerous benefits; from better prices to new services or products, to confidence in the reliability…

March 16, 2023

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Loyalty between businesses comes with numerous benefits; from better prices to new services or products, to confidence in the reliability of your network, increasing your sales and lowering your business costs, developing trust in other businesses and allowing them to trust in you ensures that everybody wins.

No man is an island, and no business is entirely self-sufficient. Forming meaningful partnerships with other businesses is paramount to driving the success of any business, service or company.

Whether you require suppliers of raw materials or products, distributors to deliver your products, marketers to help put your name up in lights, or are letting premises from which to run your HQ, relationships with other businesses are one of the keys to creating success, longevity and a healthy profit for years to come.

Developing trust between businesses is as simple as finding a partnership that you need, and then making that partnership beneficial to the business you desire to work with. This can happen before the relationship begins or developed as you work together to make business better for both of you.

From giving exclusive discounts on orders to creating tiered incentive programs, creating a referral program or arranging exclusive member events, today we are going to explore how your business can begin to develop itself as a loyal and trustworthy brand and reach out to find partners who can help you develop the greatest version of your business.

How To Build Loyalty Between Businesses

Loyalty is our brand, ethos and product. We dedicate ourselves to helping businesses develop greater relationships between their customers and the businesses that they work with. Over the years we have found some tried and tested methods to develop true loyalty between brands, and it often starts with going the extra mile. As they say, be the change you wish to see.

Here are a couple of examples of incentive programs designed to create trust and develop loyalty.

Develop Presence and Communication

A very simple place to begin is to maintain a good stream of contact between yourself and the business you wish to develop loyalty with.  Whilst many businesses can appear to run like unfeeling machines, the heart and soul of every business is a human being. The person who is placing an order of a thousand units, or wants to use you to plan an event, or whatever service or product you may offer, wants to hear enthusiasm, optimism and intent in the communication.

Like any new and developing relationship, giving your attention to the other person, getting to know them, and ensuring that your relationship is more than just a transaction is what separates a deep and meaningful partnership from a hollow and superficial one.

There are many ways to go about this and you will know which is most suitable. From sending thank you e-mails for orders or tagging them in your social media posts, to taking time to make a phone call and get to know the person on the other end, ensuring a good channel of open communication shows that you care about their business. 9 times out of 10 a person will stick with who they know, especially when they have been treated fairly, rather than jump to an unknown even if a better offer comes their way. The loyalty developed means more to the business because it is consistent, a one-time offer of a better price doesn't look like very much compared to a consistent and reliable partner.

Conversely, without that good relationship, any new offer that is the same or slightly better will be enough of a reason to jump ship, so work on your communication with the businesses you work with and see your loyalty with them increase tenfold.

Rewards Programs

Rewards programs are one of our specialities, we have seen them work wonders for both business-to-customer, and business-to-business.

They can be as simple as offering small and consistent, or the occasional exclusive, discounts to returning businesses who continue to purchase stock or services from you.

The benefits of doing this are twofold. Firstly, you can make consistent sales, that are reliable and assured. You take a small loss in profit per unit, but you get to sell masses of units at a time and reward the businesses that do so for their custom.

Secondly, by communicating these discounts, you are ensuring that those customers keep coming back to purchase your brand or service again and again, giving you a way of taking your brand to many customers without doing anywhere near as much work.

This is how loyalty programs work, there is a tradeoff. In this case, less profit overall, but you get a larger distribution of sales. The customer gets the same product at a discounted rate, and both businesses benefit from the presence and quality of your brand being out there. Customers come back to the business you sold to, and that business keeps coming back to you. Everybody wins!

The 4 Types of Loyalty

The way to develop loyalty and new business relationships is through incentives, as exampled above. This develops trust between businesses and ensures both parties are getting something from the arrangement. Thus, it is good to be aware of the types of loyalty you will encounter so you can decide where your business fits in, and how you might approach different loyalties among your various business relationships.

Price-Induced Loyalty:

This is a simple one. Do you offer the best price for the product? Many customers will purchase based on price alone, especially in a market where there are many versions of the product or service.

So being able to find the right price, or offer a better price point to certain customers, will be a surefire way to attract the majority of businesses.

Singular, one-time, new customer-style discounts can work to bring people in, but 90% of those who purchase under the discount will never return unless the same discount is applied again. So discovering ways to keep them once they’re engaged, or setting up discounts for loyal customers only, can incentivise many businesses to want to work with you.

Relational Loyalty:

This kind of loyalty is built on a personal level and involves an element of trust and camaraderie between two or more parties involved in the business relationship. It is the kind of loyalty developed through good communication and ensuring the customers you value know they are valued and feel it too.

These kinds of loyalties are harder to build but can last a lifetime and become the most valuable asset in your B2B relations.

Transactional Loyalty:

This is similar to price-induced loyalty. In this case, the customer simply sees value in the transaction, in getting what they need when they need it. It may be due to being the best price, it may be due to there being very few alternatives, it may be due to difficulty in changing their supplier or availability. So this kind of loyalty is often ineffective, it is circumstantial at best, and if a better transaction comes along elsewhere, this kind of customer will simply move on.

It does however open up the door to see how we can extend this customer from being loyal to the transaction to being loyal to the working relationship and investment in the brand and business itself.

Emotional Loyalty:

Emotional loyalty is essentially a psychological attachment through positive experiences. Emotional loyalty is created when a business discovers a way to make its customers feel special and is evidenced when you continue to get repeat business, despite offers from competitors of similar products and better prices.

Think of the loyalty Apple developed around the iPhone. Regardless of how many competitors are out there offering similar specifications at cheaper prices, the brand Apple has created, the experience it develops with its customers and the exclusivity woven into the brand ensures that when a person buys an Apple product, they are immediately emotionally invested. It is not just a purchase, it is an experience. And that is something all humans want more of.

So developing emotional loyalty will create a long-lasting customer base, and cement a B2B relationship like nothing else can. Emotional loyalty tends to go hand in hand with Relational Loyalty.

How to Develop a B2B Loyalty Program for my Business?

So now we know that building loyalty between businesses is about showing up and demonstrating that you value the customer you desire to have a working partnership with, and then developing personal loyalty incentives for those customers to prove with both products and services that you value them.

We shall now look at a quick guide to starting your loyalty program and direct you to our experts who can help take your plan and make it a reality.

  1. Know your Audience: This is as simple as defining who you wish to attract to your business, and who you would benefit from working with.
  2. Define the Program’s Goals: What do you wish to achieve in this working relationship? What is your program going to offer this customer, and how will it benefit you? From increasing revenue to lowering costs, to creating better brand awareness, decide what you want this relationship to do for you.
  3. Choose a Program that Can Fulfill those Goals: Now you know who to work with and what you want to get out of it, you can explore the various incentive options and see what will be best placed to create the desired outcome.  This could be a points-based program, a tiered incentive program, access to exclusive events, gamified loyalty and so on.
  4. Personalise the Program: Now you have a structure for the program, how can it be tailored to perfectly suit the customer you wish to attract or work with?
  5. Promote the Program: Once you have the program firmly established, it is time to reach out and promote it. In B2B, personability is key, so picking up the phone and calling the other business is a great way to open communication and show your loyalty from the start. But a more traditional marketing route may also be suitable.
  6. Measure and Adjust: Once the program is in place and rolling, you can measure the success based on your own goals and adjust the program accordingly to ensure it meets all your targets.
  7. Feedback: Communicate with your B2B customers and ask for feedback. This serves as both a reminder of their place in the loyalty program and gives you a chance to improve and update the program in relation to their experience of it.
  8. Hire a professional: Finally, when all is said and done, hiring an experienced industry professional to help tailor, plan and design your B2B loyalty program is a must, especially for those with little experience in the industry.

We hope this article has helped open up your mind to the options available to help develop loyalty between you and your B2B customers and has given you a great starting base to dream up your own loyalty incentive program.

We at Loyalty Works have been industry-leading experts in incentive and rewards programs for years and would be happy to begin our working relationship with you today. We encourage you to reach out and get in touch with us, we are always open to hearing your ideas and our team is always happy to show you just what we can do to make your business relationships as strong and effective as can be.

We can take care of the whole process for you, just dream the dream, get in touch and let us assist you in making it a reality.

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Whether you’re looking for answers, would like to discuss our services, or just want to know a little bit more about how we have helped our other clients, simply get in touch and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

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