Partnering with local businesses to offer your gift cards as part of their employee incentive program is a great way to expand your gift card sales. Companies typically use prizes, cash rewards, trophies and other awards to recognize employees, customers and partners; however, they may not have thought to give a gift card instead.
Why gift cards are better than cash rewards for incentive programs
- More discrete. People don’t feel awkward mentioning a gift card.
- True gift perception. Gift cards are not viewed as compensation and are more likely to improve work performance.
- Universal benefits. Gift cards are viewed as a gift and cash, and create a longer lasting impression than just cash.
- Sharing opportunities. Gift cards are often shared with family and friends.
- Guilt-free spending. Recipients will treat themselves with a gift card.
- Long-term positive feelings toward your business.
- Reinforce positive feelings toward the employer.
What to look for in a business partner
- Companies that are experiencing sales and growth success and have more than 50 employees.
- The more employees, the bigger the opportunity
- Companies that already uses gift cards as tender for employee incentives, rewards and recognition
- Companies that have an ongoing wellness, safety, attendance or team-building programs
- Companies that are geographically located near one of your businesses
Finding a business partner
- Businesses that you have a relationship with
- Chamber of Commerce
- Businesses that you may frequent as a customer
- Purchase a mailing list from Experian or USPS
- Google searches
How to get started
- Define volume discounts and/or tiers. Typically companies expect higher discounts for higher value cards or higher quantity purchases, for example:
- 100-250 $xx cards = 10% discount
- 251-500 $xx cards = 15% discount
- 501-1000 $xx cards = 20% discount
Also consider deeper “limited time only” or “commit for the year” offers
- Determine how you will contact target companies: direct mail, email, phone call (tip: mailing a gift card with a personal note explaining your intensions is a good way to kick off the conversation)
- Collect contact information of target buyers such as the head of operations, sales, marketing or human resources
(tip: call sheet example provided)
- Research each potential partner per above criteria
- Write script and include benefits of partnering with you
(tip: include messaging of your corporate programs on your website, newsletters, Facebook and other social media outlets)
- Coordinate direct mail piece and/or call contacts
- Follow up regularly to keep the partnership moving forward
- Consider making online ordering an option (Mercury can help you set up a website to sell physical gift cards or eGift cards)
- Research each business to determine if they have an incentive or recognition program and if they are using gift cards as part of that program.
- Find a common ground. Do you have a connection at that company? Are you a customer of theirs?
Do you support the same nonprofit or community group?
- Develop a script that is conversational and memorize it so you sound prepared but not robotic.
- Ignite some interest by sending prospects a gift card for their own use.
- Make your calls early in the morning, if possible.
- Be persistent. According to AllBusiness.com, 80 percent of new sales are made after the fifth contact, yet the majority of sales people give up after the second call.
- Follow up with an email.
- Practice, practice, practice.
The following structure works well for an opening statement:
- Greeting and introduction
- Reference point (something about the prospect)
- Benefits of your product or service
- Transition to a question or dialogue
“Good morning, Ms. Marshall. This is Ken Brown with XYZ Restaurant. I read in the local paper that you recently started a wellness program for your employees. Congratulations!
Your team must be very excited. The reason I am calling is because our restaurant has a large selection of healthy menu options, and I thought you may be interested in using our gift cards as rewards and incentives as your employees reach various milestones in your wellness program. I’d like to ask a few questions to determine how we might work together.”
Prepare an outline for the rest of your call to include:
- Discuss benefits of gift cards over cash and the benefits of your product or service.
- Prepare for possible objections and your answers to them.
- Ask for a face-to-face appointment, or close the deal depending on the conversation. Order information should include card quantity, card denomination, delivery date and location.