Sales promotions aren’t always necessary to close business. In fact, salespeople shouldn’t get in the habit of regularly using promotions when mastering essential negotiation skills.
However, promotions can often make the customer’s decision to do business with you easier and, as a result, drive more sales for your business.
When constructed correctly and deployed intelligently, they should enhance, not disrupt, the sales process. Here’s some ideas on how to make your sales promotions draw in customers and drive sales.
Table of Contents:
- What is a sales promotion?
- 14 Types of Sales Promotion
- Sales Promotion Ideas
- Sales Promotion Examples
What is a sales promotion?
A sales promotion is a marketing strategy that aims to boost sales with deals and offers that speak to consumer interests and entice them to purchase a product or service.
A common type of sales promotion is the buy one, get one free model, but there are multiple different types that you can leverage to help you meet your sales goals.
14 Types of Sales Promotion
A discount in price — for example, 30% off — is a powerful incentive for prospects you've built rapport with, who love your product/service, and whose only objection is price. If they're the right fit, a good discount can motivate them to get off the fence and make a decision.
In the same family as the discount but as a one-time use with a hard deadline, a coupon can be a powerful motivator. As a tangible (or digital) thing, the right coupon can compel a prospect to take action, as they psychologically feel as though something's being taken from them if they don't. One-time coupons also affect the bottom line less than ongoing discounts.
Challenges involve consumers taking specific action to win something from your brand, usually a discount or free product. Challenges often take place over social media, where a brand may ask followers to share its content on their own profiles to make entries into the competition.
4. Flash Sales
Flash sales are short-run sales where businesses, often ecommerce and retail, offer discounts on products and services for a short period. This can inspire a sense of urgency within audiences, and can significantly boost sales if users want to take advantage of a discount before time is up.
Promotional products such as clothing, pens, or gear are novel and can add an element of delight in the right circumstances. However, as mentioned earlier, they may not hold much sway during the actual purchasing decision.
6. Free Trials
Free trials give users complete access to products and services for a limited time without payment. The goal is for users to realize the benefit you bring to them and convince them to make a purchase when the free trial period runs out.
7. Free Shipping
The most significant reason why consumers in the U.S. abandon their carts is due to high, unexpected extra costs (like shipping). As a result, offering free shipping is a form of sales promotion as consumers are more likely to follow through with their purchases if they’re not hit with additional costs when they check out.
8. Buy One, Get One Free
Buy one, get one free (BOGO) is when a business offers an additional free product to inspire customers to purchase an initial product. The first “one” of BOGO is what the customer is initially interested in, and the second “one” is a free product. Customers like receiving free things, so offering a free product can inspire them to follow through with a purchase.
If you have a suite of products that add more value together than standing alone, bundling them for a discounted rate can make your offer more attractive. This would appeal to prospects concerned about value and weighing their options with your competition in mind.
Add-ons are a bit more flexible than bundles, as removing them won't affect payment terms. With that in mind, this route is great when needing to provide extra value without risk. You might include throwing in a premium feature only available at a higher tier or giving them "extra" of something that otherwise has limits.
Subscriptions are a sales promotion as products are often sold at a lower rate if a user subscribes to a plan. If a customer were to simply buy the product or service each time they need it, they would end up paying more for the overall subscription cost.
12. Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs are a form of sales promotion as discounts and rewards offered to loyal customers can inspire them to make more purchases than if they weren’t part of the program. For example, if you offer a free trial size item with every purchase, a customer in your loyalty program may be enticed to buy because they want to try something you offer without having to pay for it.
13. Extended Payment Terms
Similarly, an extended payment term is another way to handle price objections and is a good choice for high-ticket sales because it makes the sticker price a little less intimidating. All you have to do is spread out payments over a period that makes sense, like 3 months. If consumers are worried about being able to pay total costs upfront but they really want what you’re selling, a payment plan may entice them to follow through.
14. Extended-Use Terms
By providing extended-use terms, you give the prospect more time to consider your solution's value before extracting value (payment renewal) from them. In the right situation, this builds confidence in your product and builds rapport.
Now that you know all about the different types of sales promotions, we’ll go over some ideas of how you can implement them.
Sales Promotion Ideas
- Abandoned Cart Promotions
- Influencer Affiliate Links
- In-person Event Swag
- Location-based Deals
- Feedback Rewards
- Partnership Discounts
- Time Savings and Additional Services
- Seasonal Promotions
- Referral Promotions
- Cashback Deals
- Off-season Discounts
- Donation Promotions
- Deals For Best-fit Customers
- Recurring Sales
- Punch Cards
- App-exclusive Promotions
- Sign-up Promotions
- Gift Cards
1. Abandoned Cart Promotions
The average cart abandonment rate is 69.57%. The average ecommerce store loses about 75% of its sales to digital cart abandonment. As a result, a valuable sales promotion idea is to send abandoned cart promotions.
In practice, you can track when customers abandoned carts on your site, and follow up with a promotional email with a code or discount to incentivize a purchase follow through. The cart abandonment email open rate is 70% and CTR is 8.76, meaning that you have a significant chance of recovering these transactions.
2. Influencer Affiliate Links
A great way to run a sales promotion is to partner with an influencer and leverage the relationship they have with their community.
Audiences trust the judgment and opinions of the influencers they follow, so they’re likely to drive a sale. To add further incentive, the influencers you partner with can share a unique code or affiliate link that gives audiences a discount if they use it to make a purchase.
3. In-person Event Swag
Save swag to attract new people to your conference booth, brighten a current client’s day, or make a prospect feel extra special during an in-person visit — without expecting anything in return. Swag is a promotion you provide to sow good will, interest, and loyalty.
4. Location-based Deals
You can offer discounts on your products and services based on the locations your customers are in. For example, you can run specific promotions if your customers visit specific storefronts.
5. Feedback Rewards
Customer feedback is crucial for business success, and you can combine it with a sales promotion to entice customers to give it. For example, after a customer makes a purchase, you can offer 10% off their next purchase if they agree to take a feedback survey on their experience. A discount can then incentivize customers to make a follow-up purchase.
6. Partnership Discounts
If you work closely with other businesses, you can offer discount codes to customers that are also patrons of your partners, and vice versa. Since customers trust the businesses that they buy from and you’re their established partner, they’re likely to trust that you’re worth doing business with, and an added discount can incentivize a purchase.
7. Time Savings and Additional Services
Leverage a healthy incentive focused on time savings or additional services. This sweetens the pot without devaluing your product/service. For example, you might offer a prospect an additional 15 hours of onboarding support for free if they sign by Friday. Or you could offer a free setup on their new account so they don’t have to waste time on implementation and can get right to doing.
Even a free six-month checkup can be attractive to prospects who are nervous to sign the contract. Offer free peace of mind in return for their trust and business.
8. Seasonal Promotions
Many businesses run promotions on specific occasions to inspire purchases. For example, you can offer birthday discounts, holiday discounts, etc, to inspire people to make a purchase for those holidays.
9. Referral Promotions
With a referral sales promotion, you give your existing customers a referral code to share with someone they know to give them a discount for their first purchase from you. The person with the referral code also receives some sort of reward, which can incentivize them to actually take the steps to recommend you to others if they get something out of it.
10. Cashback Deals
When you give cashback you return a portion of the money customers spend with you after every purchase. You’re giving customers a discount, despite receiving it after the fact, which can entice them to spend more money with the assurance that a percentage will be returned.
11. Off-season Discounts
You know when your slow periods are — maybe July in Phoenix or December in Australia. A sales promotion can be just the tool to get deals moving during these down times.
You can queue up your deals to start on the first day of the month for accounting and quota reasons. Once they hit 120% of plan for the current month, they manage a rolling 60-day cycle.
This ensures they always have deals in the pipeline and are ready for those slow months.
12. Donation Promotions
Now, more than ever, consumers want to align with companies that demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility, and it is a huge factor in their decisions to do business with a company.
As a result, running a promotion where you donate a portion of your profits to a charitable cause can influence sales, as customers appreciate when you take a stand for social causes. If using this method, however, ensure that you’re genuine about the commitments you make, as customers will take notice of missteps and won't hesitate to move elsewhere, or even call you out.
13. Deals For Best-fit Customers
Offer promotions to customers already leaning toward choosing your solution. And be honest about whether they’re a good fit for your company.
Leverage promotions for prospects who are actively moving toward a close, engaged with you in conversation and negotiation, and genuinely interested in using your product/service in their business. The result will be fewer concessions on your part, and a bigger payoff in the end.
14. Recurring Sales
Recurring sales occur during set periods, like a bi-annual basis. As you aren’t constantly running discounts and offers, customers eagerly await the sale period so they can make purchases before time runs out. Customers are also likely to spend more money to stock up on their favorite items at a lower price than other times in the year.
15. Punch Cards
Punch cards are loyalty cards that contain a set number of icons that can be stamped or marked after a customer makes a purchase, usually in-store. When all icons are stamped, a customer receives a reward, often a percentage off of their next purchase or a free item.
This type of sales promotion encourages customers to continue making purchases from you to receive the reward they’re offered at the end.
16. App-exclusive Promotions
A great way to run a promotion for your business is to run an app-exclusive promotion, where users receive deals specifically for downloading or using your mobile app to purchase your business.
17. Sign-up Promotions
A sign-up sales promotion involves offering a deal exclusively for new users. It can be a valuable tool to drive sales and customer acquisition, as customers may be excited to follow through if they can make an initial purchase at a discounted rate.
18. Gift Cards
74% of respondents to a UK survey said they spend more money than the gift card balance. Respondents to the same survey also said that gift cards inspire them to make purchases at businesses they wouldn’t normally visit.
In terms of sales promotions, gift cards are a valuable tool in incentivizing recipients to spend more money at your business, with the bonus of new customer acquisition. If a new customer is satisfied with what they’ve bought, you’ve earned yourself a new customer and repeat business, regardless of whether a gift card is involved.
19. Find Your Discounting Sweet Spot
Don’t offer extraordinary discounting that goes outside traditional guidelines and negatively impacts your company’s bottom line. Just because you’ll make a quota doesn’t make these discounts the right choice.
You risk losing trust with your client, attracting the wrong type of client (i.e., customers buying solely based on price instead of fit), and word getting out that these types of discounts and deals can be expected — or worse, are what your product/service is worth.
Let’s go over some expert examples of sales promotions from businesses that have used the strategy.
Sales Promotion Examples
- AMC Theaters — Lifestyle Discount
- Uber Eats — Referral Promotion
- Sephora — Recurring Sale
- Taco Bell — App Exclusive Promotion
- Amazon — Subscription Promotion
1. AMC Theaters — Lifestyle Discount
AMC Theaters offers a sales promotion in the form of lifestyle discounts, where tickets are offered at a discounted rate for those over 60 years of age, and children under 12.
2. Uber Eats — Referral Promotion
Uber Eats offers a referral promotion where users can share a unique code with a friend that has never used the app before. The new user will receive $20 off their first order of $25, and the existing user (with the referral code) will receive $10 off an order of $25.
3. Sephora — Recurring Sale
Sephora only runs its Beauty Insider Sale three times a year. As a result, consumers know that they can get their favorite items at a discounted price only three times per year, inspiring them to spend more money during the promotional window to stock up on their favorite items.
4. Taco Bell — App Exclusive Promotion
Taco Bell offers a Taco Lovers Pass, where users can get a free taco every single day for 30 days if they purchase the pass, but it is only offered to those who have the mobile app and redeem their pass through the mobile app.
5. Amazon — Subscription Promotion
Amazon offers a “Subscribe & Save” deal, where users will pay less money if they opt-in to a subscription for the item. In the image below, the standard cost is $12.59 USD, and if the consumer subscribes, the price is $11.95 USD.
Over To You
Sales promotions can be a fruitful way to close deals and build trusting relationships with prospects — just make sure you have your goals in sight.