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On Distribution Talk, we dive into the stories, struggles and solutions from interesting characters who have chosen to make a career in the distribution industry. My goal is to entertain, educate and inspire you through these brief conversations.  Thank you for visiting.  If you like what you hear, come visit us often. -Jason

Apr 15, 2020

“We oftentimes say it's not the incentive why people buy from you, it's the cherry on top of the cheesecake. But the incentive, if designed properly, puts a spotlight on the value that you bring.”
-Lincoln Smith

With everything you’ve got going on, here’s a topic you might not have considered: loyalty programs. Business has been thrown an unprecedented curveball over the last few weeks.

Lincoln Smith, chief strategy officer at HMI Performance Incentive, says rewards packages could hit a home run for B2B pros looking to boost their profiles and bottom lines in the months and years ahead.

“At the end of the day, distributors are looking for opportunities to differentiate themselves, to create a stronger relationship with their customers and then drive behaviors that are in the  interest of both the contractor [and] the customer.” That desire to foster long-lasting connections has been with Lincoln since he began working with HMI 20+ years ago.

And he’s not just paying lip-service to our industry. He and HMI have serious street cred, having participated in NAW and HARDI. Originally the domain of consumer transactions - about 97% of us are passively or actively enrolled in some sort of loyalty plan - participation has expanded to include B2B incentivizing. This adoption rate makes sense given that HMI’s data shows a direct link between good loyalty programs and overall margin enhancement. It’s a behavioral economics win-win. 


Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.

This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.

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Amplifying value-added services is another incentive program win-win, especially in situations where a company’s natural humility gets in the way of communicating their full worth.

“I think that a lot of wholesalers discount that value,” says Lincoln. “I think that they could do a better job of highlighting it in a myriad of different ways.”

To that end, HMI takes an agency approach to their consulting, devising strategies for companies to enhance their messaging, maybe through something as simple as adding a services tab to their website. “These are just communication and engagement tactics to deliver that message on a more consistent or maybe a more meaningful way.”

Many distributors and wholesalers are being forced to meet challenges that were at the tail end of their do-to lists. HMI is stepping in with innovative solutions for any size business.

“These programs can really be designed to drive certain behaviors,” says Lincoln. “As an example, it's now no longer just do this, get that. Here we are in April of 2020 and the world looks a little bit different, this month than it did just six weeks ago now.”

The drastic changes might warrant a tactical refresh and programs like those built by HMI become much more relevant as your business searches for an advantage in the business environment of the very near future.