Big Results on Paper

By Malcolm Fleschner

In this, the so-called Information Age, companies can give their sales efforts a boost by doing a little legwork to compile research before creating sales incentive programs. Take, for example, the recent experience of a paper and office products reseller that was looking to increase revenues by selling more of its high-margin laser printer paper. Having had little success through such traditional marketing methods as direct mail and telemarketing, the company decided to shift gears and team up with an online incentive solutions provider to come up with a new approach.

Together they first determined that while specialty papers accounted for only about 20% of the company’s sales, these products nevertheless drove 80% of the profits. This finding confirmed that selling more laser printer paper was a worthy and potentially profitable goal.

Next they turned to the customer base, creating a sales survey to find out more about customers’ paper usage. They learned that color laser printer use was growing dramatically as customers sought to develop more colorful and professional presentations, brochures and price lists. The survey also unearthed a piece of information the company didn’t know: Many customers were reluctant buyers because they mistakenly believed they would have to reload their printers every time they wanted to use specialty papers.

To address these challenges, the reseller and the incentive house worked together to develop a solution that would both educate the sales force and drive increased sales. This effort resulted in a dedicated Website created by the incentive provider that served as a center for both distance learning and the new incentive program.

After registering, sales reps were asked a few questions about their customers and then went through an online training exercise. In addition to receiving points for activities like sampling users, opening new accounts and selling specialty papers to existing accounts, participants also were rewarded for completing a quiz about the training. Points were immediately redeemable through an online merchandise catalog.

The program’s results were nothing short of impressive. During the four-month contest, sales of specialty papers increased by 40%. The reseller reports that salespeople and customers alike have responded enthusiastically, while sales reps have said they particularly enjoy visiting the Website to monitor their point totals against one another.