Listen on These

Revisiting Lincoln Smith on performance incentives, loyalty programs, and customer behavior

Episode: 86

During this holiday season, we are taking the opportunity to re-release some of the most popular episodes of Distribution Talk. Jason recently caught up with Lincoln Smith, chief strategy officer at HMI Performance Incentives.

Although most people associate loyalty incentives with customer programs, now would be a great time to look at shoring up the relationship with internal associates. Distributors are not immune to the great resignation going on in North America and we hate to see associates jump ship for a couple of bucks per hour when we could design non-monetary performance rewards to keep them engaged.

Furthermore, Jason predicts that 2022 will be a great time to double down on increasing market share. If you have the inventory, you’re in a great position. Loyalty incentives are just another arrow in your quiver. Lincoln has been a great resource to the Distribution Team’s clients over the last 18 months. Enjoy this conversation!


With everything you’ve got going on, here’s a topic you might not have considered: loyalty programs. Business has been thrown quite a few curveballs over the recent months and Lincoln Smith 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.

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. The drastic world and business changes of late 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.


Everyone feels that the only customer base that matters is your top customers – or that top 20% that’s producing 80% of your volumeBut we find that a lot of margin enhancement and sales growth really can come from that middle 60 audience.

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.

We encourage the behaviors that are productive for the contractor and for you. So this is not a bait and switch. These are really strategic business-driven initiatives.

Episode Sponsor