17 Ways to Recognize the Sales Field
Recognition isn't just for convention; here are some ways to recognize your distributors all year round.
From the time we were little we’ve been taught to say thank you. After all, good manners are important. Recent research in social psychology suggests that saying 'thank you' goes beyond good manners – it also serves to build and maintain social relationships and even to help form new ones.
US psychologist Sara Algoe, from the University of North Carolina conducted a study to see how personal expressions of gratitude help individuals find new friendships and sustain them. In the study she had 70 undergraduate students act as mentors to incoming students and provide feedback on writing samples. A week after the feedback was given all 70 of the mentor participants were invited back and given a note from the high school mentee. Half of the participants received notes acknowledging the feedback and the other half received notes acknowledging the feedback along with an expression of gratitude for the help.
After reading the notes, the mentors took a survey and then were asked if they wanted to reply to the mentee. There was no pressure to write the note; the participant was left in a room alone to decide. This was the most important part of the study. Would the participants take the opportunity to form a new relationship with the mentee and would that decision be based on an expression of gratitude?
Of the participants who received a note of gratitude, 68% chose to write the note and left their contact information so the mentee could contact them in the future. In comparison, only 42% of the group who didn’t receive an expression of gratitude chose to leave a note with their contact details.
Through additional research they found that those mentees who expressed gratitude were perceived as warm and friendly and more likely the kind of person one would want to maintain a social relationship with.
You don't say.
Seriously. It’s common sense. Saying thank you makes you more likable. But so often it’s something we don’t make a priority and our gratitude is felt, but not expressed. British author G. B. Stern said, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.”
In many organizations it’s common to quickly express gratitude to the entire sales field at events and in corporate communications. We say things like: “We couldn’t do it without you!” “We know we wouldn’t be here without our distributors.” “Our distributors are the reason for our success.” While these expressions may be heartfelt, the impact probably isn’t as great or long lasting as more specific and personalized recognition.
It’s essential for companies to foster this atmosphere of gratitude in all levels of the organization. Expressing gratitude from corporate to distributors, corporate to employees, distributor to distributor and distributor to customer will provide more than just warm fuzzies, it could also impact the bottom line.
According to a survey conducted by Maritz Research, workers who are recognized on the job are:
- 5 times more likely to feel valued
- 7 times more likely to stay with the company
- 6 times more likely to invest in the company
- 11 times more likely to feel completely committed to the company
That means increased distributor satisfaction, increased retention and possibly even more new recruits. If there was one thing you could do that would retain more distributors, increase their commitment and motivate them to do more, wouldn’t you go out of your way to do it and ensure that it was done well?
Distributor recognition shouldn't be an afterthought and it can be just as innovative as your other business strategies. Here are 17 ways you can show your distributors you are grateful for the work they do.
1. A Handwritten Note
Although it may be easier to send an email, there is something special about opening a letter and seeing a handwritten greeting. It feels more personal, more authentic. When your distributors do something out of the ordinary, a simple note letting them know you appreciate them can be one of the most powerful expressions of gratitude.
2. A Phone Call
A phone call is a simple and effective way to say thank you and it’s a personalized recognition that you can do on a mass scale. Phone calls don’t just have to come from the Founders and Corporate Team; you can empower your employees to recognize distributors too. Encourage them to look for small opportunities and achievements and then act on it. Placing a large order, signing up a new recruit, earning an incentive and more.
3. Social Media & Private Online Communities
For some accomplishments, public displays of recognition are the best choice. Posting accomplishments on social media and on private online communities shows that you appreciate the accomplishment and allows for peer-to-peer recognition too. It also reinforces best business practices and is a testimonial to other distributors that these practices work.
4. Make Them a Trainer for a Day
For some distributors the opportunity to present is a great form of recognition. They’ve obviously got great ideas, and you’ve got a platform where they can share them. Invite them to train on a webinar or conference call and give advice on how they accomplished their goals. Using subject matter experts will build their credibility and yours—so it’s win-win recognition.
5. Invitation to Exclusive Training
Exclusivity = special. When a distributor has accomplished something, show them your gratitude by investing in them. Provide exclusive training on self-improvement, business planning or leadership.
6. Feature Them on the Company Blog
Another great location to recognize distributors is on the corporate blog. There is enough space to tell the whole story, show pictures and it’s easy for them to share with their family, friends and customers through email, social media and their personal websites. Just like with social media, it’s also a public forum that allows other distributors and prospects to see how the business works.
7. Magazine Feature
Nothing says success like being featured in a beautiful magazine layout. This type of recognition is essential in direct selling. It’s a resource the distributor can take to meetings and use to build credibility and make a convincing case for the business opportunity.
8. Press Release
The purpose of a press release is to receive media coverage, get attention, create community and get more business. When you recognize a distributor’s hard work and tell their story in a press release both the company and the distributor will see the benefits. Make sure to tell their story in a compelling way that will draw readers in. Show readers why they should care about what happened? Answer the who, what, where, when and why. However, don’t write a book. A good press release is usually 300- 400 words long.
9. Gift Certificates
They’ve worked hard so give them a treat to remember. Spa certificates, house cleaning, a chef prepared meal in their home and more. These unique experiences will get attention and show them you genuinely care about the hard work and the extra efforts they are putting into the business.
10. Surprise Them
Not only with the big things like milestones and promotions, surprise them for a great start to the month, holding the most meetings in a week, signing up the most recruits. Let them know you appreciate the work that usually goes unnoticed.
You can also surprise them with the way the recognition is given. The founder of the company can make a personal delivery to their door. You could send them on a scavenger hunt and give little bits of appreciation all along the way. With a little imagination, you can make the giving of the gift almost as rewarding as the gift itself.
11. Give an IOU
One good turn deserves another. Think of times when a distributor might need help that requires out of the ordinary assistance. Maybe free expedited shipping on business supplies, someone to help them understand a report and figure out what to do next, or even something as simple as an employee taking the time to listen and answer a difficult question. It’s hard to predict what the distributor is going to need, so if you can, the best IOU is an open ended one. Send an IOU certificate letting them know the next time they need something, you’ll be there to help.
12. T-shirt/Team Jersey
Create a branded t-shirt or clothing item that signifies they’re part of an exclusive group. They could wear the tees at convention or, if you want to do it outside of an event, have them post selfies wearing the t-shirt and use a special hashtag so everyone sees this significant group of distributors.
13. Assign Them a Personal Assistant /Personal Coach for a Week
Who wouldn’t appreciate a little more help at work? Show your distributors you appreciate their contribution by assigning them a personal assistant for a week. The personal assistant can help answer emails, sort through reports, send team reminders and more.
14. Distributor of the Week Program
Start a program that recognizes one distributor each week. Highlight an accomplishment like selling the most of a particular sku number, signing up her first new recruit or having the most advancements in the first level. Switch up the behaviours that you recognize them so you can spread the recognition around.
15. Automated Text Message
Sometimes, simply saying thank you is enough. If you have a marketing automation system, set up a rule that sends a SMS message each time a certain behavior occurs. It’s immediate, it’s personal and it shows your appreciation.
16. Applaud Their Efforts (Literally)
There are lots of direct selling companies that have a red carpet welcome when distributors come to visit. It’s amazing and I’m sure the distributor is overwhelmed with the gratitude being shown. But, you don’t have to limit the standing ovation to when they are physically in the building. If a distributor does something great, gather the employees together and record a standing ovation, or do a video conference call from a meeting room and have all of the executives stand and applaud their efforts. Not many people get to experience that kind of appreciation in their everyday life, so it will really stand out.
17. Spotlight Video
Make a YouTube video about a distributor and his accomplishments. The video could be from a corporate executive, their team members and even family members. Tell the story and let others help sing their praises.
When it comes to how to best recognize a distributor, remember each person is unique. Some may like public accolades and others may not. The most important thing is to be sincere because it’s obvious when you’re not. Make sure to change recognition tactics and try to appeal to different segments of your audience. And last, but not least, spread the recognition around. There are thousands of behaviors that help your company grow each day and when you find the time to recognize more of them, your company will see new levels of success.
What are some ways you recognize the distributors in your company? We’d love to hear more ideas in the comments below.