top of page

Partner sales - 10 commandments for more success with sales partners

What to consider in partner sales?

Anyone who regularly forwards customer enquiries (leads) to their sales partners knows how difficult it is to get information back on their status:

Which sales partner does what?

 What is the current status of your customer enquiries?

 Have your end customers received satisfactory support?

 Are dealers and partner account managers working together on the lead?

 What is the current status of your customer enquiries?

 How are the sales talks going?

 Have your end customers been looked after satisfactorily in all sales meetings?

But why is it so difficult to get feedback on leads

that the manufacturer has given to the sales partner?

No matter how intensive indirect sales are, the interests of manufacturers, distributors and specialist retailers are very different in some respects:

» As a manufacturer, you want maximum transparency about lead management and maximum ROI from your lead generation campaigns. » As a specialist retailer, on the other hand, you want high-quality leads, garnished with information that supports the sales process. Above all, you don't want to be in a competitive situation. Neither with other retailers nor with the manufacturer itself. But this is often the case when manufacturers operate multi-level and direct sales side by side.

You would be more successful and sales figures would soar,

if dealers and manufacturers joined forces.


What types of partners are there?

Indirect sales is a sales strategy in which a company works with other companies or individuals to market its products or services. There are different types of indirect sales, which vary depending on the nature of the partnership and the company's objectives. Some of the most common types are explained below.

1. Reseller partners: Here, companies work with resellers who resell their products or services. The resellers can either be authorised dealers or distributors who sell the products to end customers.

2. system integrators: System integrators are partner companies that integrate a company's products or services into their own solutions. This type of partnership is particularly common in the IT industry, where system integrators integrate software or hardware into existing systems to offer customised solutions.

3. OEM partners: Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are partner companies that integrate a company's products or components into their own products and sell them under their own brand name. This can often be seen in the automotive industry, where manufacturers purchase engines, transmissions or other components from suppliers and install them in their vehicles.

4. affiliate partners: Affiliate partners are individuals or companies who promote a company's products or services and receive a commission in return. This is usually done through affiliate marketing programmes where affiliates use special links to drive traffic to the company's website and generate sales.

5. technology partners: Technology partners are companies that combine their own technologies with a company's products or services to offer innovative solutions. These partnerships can help to open up new markets or expand the product range.

6. consulting partners: Consulting partners are companies or individuals (sometimes sales representatives) who offer services such as consulting, training or implementation in connection with a company's products or services. They support customers in the use and optimisation of the products and thus contribute to customer satisfaction.

This list is not exhaustive and there are many other types of indirect sales that can vary depending on the industry and company strategy. Companies can extend their reach, open up new markets and market products or services effectively.

10 commandments in partner sales

We have drawn up 10 commandments to help you achieve a digital, transparent process!

1. Only distribute qualified leads!

In general, every partner only gets involved if it is worthwhile. The cost and benefit must be in a very favourable relationship. For this reason, lead management must be organised in such a way that the leads are of the highest possible quality.

A good lead management tool should therefore ensure that qualification steps (e.g. by agencies) can precede distribution to the sales partner. There are now also interesting data providers that can automatically enrich your lead with all the missing information such as industry, turnover or relevant names from the buying centre that is important to you.

» Do not pass on unqualified leads to specialist dealers. Define the qualification criteria clearly and unambiguously. What information must be determined in order to become an interesting enquiry for the partner?


2. Be honest with your partnerships!

When acquiring new partners, manufacturers often promise retailers that they will regularly receive ‘red-hot’ leads or be supported in generating them. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case in indirect sales. If at all, trade fair contacts, downloaders or competition participants are distributed to the sales partners. But nothing is more demotivating than following up on cold or uninteresting addresses.


The motivation to follow up on leads from the manufacturer drops to zero. In fact, there are salespeople who, if they have time, sometimes follow up on cold leads. However, you also demotivate them if you don't make it clear what they can expect.

TRANSPARENCY IN partner sales is one of the most important criteria for success!

Always tell the partner honestly whether this address is hot, warm or cold from your point of view. If you use motivation systems, reward the processing of cold leads disproportionately. This way you will have more success with dealers.


3. Give the partner all the information from sales!

Sales partners want all the information about the lead. They want to know where the enquiries are coming from, why the prospect should be contacted and whether there is a specific requirement. It is therefore very important to provide as much information as possible about the lead.

» A little tip:

In general, the greater the amount of text in the remarks to the prospective customer, the greater the partner's attention. It simply has to do with the fact that with long continuous texts, the retailer has the feeling that someone has dealt intensively with the lead and that it is not just a ‘collected’ business card or a ‘downloader’ of a white paper.


4. Keep it simple in partner sales!

In multi-level sales, there are almost always defined processes that need to be adhered to. These are often mapped via web portals or other contact points.

But beware: many specialist retailers are partners of several manufacturers. In addition to their own systems such as ERP, CRM, etc., this quickly results in a large number of portals and tools from the manufacturers.

Specialist retailers would have a lot to do if they were constantly feeding all these portals. For this reason, the cooperation must be organised in such a way that the sales partner has only minimal additional work. At best, it should even be fun. Good lead management tools offer 4 ways to work together with the partner on leads:

WEBCLIENT – a very simple and intuitive web client that requires no training, no demo and no manual.

APP – If possible, also use an app that allows specialist retailers to call up your leads from anywhere in the world (from a mobile phone or tablet PC) and provide feedback.

E-MAIL – If your partner doesn't want to use any tools to retrieve or edit leads, they should be able to do this in their email client. They receive HTML e-mails with feedback options so that they can easily participate in the system. The underlying processes are operated with the help of e-mails and calls to web-based dialogue windows from the e-mails.

Direktanbindung – If you have the technical requirements, the best way is of course to connect the systems directly. It is very convenient for the partner if they can quickly and easily transfer leads from the manufacturer into their system and report back the lead status automatically or at the touch of a button.


5. Let the partner decide whether and which lead they want to work on!

Leads that are distributed by telephone or e-mail are difficult to manage. Because the questions arise:

  Who took note of the lead in sales and when?

  Does the sales partner even want to process the enquiry?

  Is the sales partner on a business trip or on holiday?

  How do I give the customer feedback on when a partner will get back to them

will get back to them regarding their enquiry - and who will it be?

  What's going on in partner sales?

This is where most approaches in indirect sales have major gaps. If you offer leads, you have to be 100% sure that a retailer will deal with them immediately. This is only possible using the so-called push/pull principle. How does that work?

» No partner gets a lead. He has to pick it up. If he does, you know that he has taken note of it, he wants it and he is working on it.

» Escalations ensure that no leads are left lying around for long: If a lead is not accepted within 12 hours, it is offered to other partners. This guarantees the fastest possible processing times.


6. Encourage competition!

Manufacturers want to ensure that a lead is processed quickly. Of course, you can't do that if you assign the lead to the specialist retailer unconditionally. That's why indirect sales only work if you build up a certain amount of pressure. How do you do that?

By offering leads to a number of specialised dealers. The principle applies: first come, first served. You should give the specialist dealers the feeling that it doesn't matter when they pick up the lead and when they process it. If they are not quick enough, someone else will have it. If they don't process the leads properly, they won't get any new ones.

» Competition stimulates business. Try to offer leads to a group of sales partners. Whoever reserves the lead first will be provided with all the details about the lead. The lead is then no longer visible to all other partners.


7. The enquiry must be a perfect match for the sales partner!

In most cases, leads are distributed to partners according to criteria that are difficult to understand (e.g. sympathy). Purely objective criteria do not always play the decisive role.

Ideally, those dealers who are best suited based on their qualifications should have access to the lead. A matching mechanism calculates the optimal partners for the enquiry, e.g. according to expertise, certifications, partner level, previous sales success or regional proximity.

Allocation of leads according to objective criteria enables fair and equal distribution and increases motivation. Many partner programmes only offer top (premium) partners the forwarding of end customer enquiries (leads). This sometimes means that smaller projects that are less interesting for the premium partner end up with them. Very often these enquiries are followed up poorly or not at all, whereas smaller partners would be delighted to receive such enquiries. So make sure that your criteria are not too strict and that your customer receives the best specialist dealer for their enquiry.


8. Reward the diligent

Of course, every partner wants red-hot leads. Sales partners are less keen to give feedback on the status of lead processing. No retailer wants to be constantly monitored.

So the question is: How can I get feedback - or in other words, how can I prevent sales partners from leaving leads unprocessed? And are highly motivated at the same time?

There are systems that prevent leads from being picked and then not processed. Intelligent processes (processing queue) force the partner to give feedback on leads if they want to continue receiving fresh leads. If he does not do this, he can see new leads in the ‘pick list’, but cannot reserve them for himself. Only when certain feedback has been given can the partner pick new leads again.

On the other hand, motivation is a major driving force. Motivation systems that can be used to collect points in order to earn rewards or additional budgets also provide very positive support for lead management. The ‘development’ of MDF budgets, additional discounts or rewards (Miles & More) is conceivable.


9. Promote cooperation in a system!

One thing is very clear: lead management in multi-level sales becomes particularly complex when there are many participants in the lead process. Agency, distributor (sales and management), specialised dealer (sales and management), manufacturer (partner account manager, sales management, management) sometimes have different motivations and perspectives.

For this reason, it is crucial that all those involved in this system also work together in one system. Good tools in indirect sales must be able to map even complex sales systems. This means that every partner manager can monitor their territory or their specialist retailers, every distributor their specialist retailers or even every specialist retailer sales manager their sales staff. All data should be regularly synchronised with the manufacturer's CRM.

For this reason, it is crucial that all those involved in this system also work together in one system. Good tools in indirect sales must be able to map even complex sales systems. This means that every partner manager can monitor their territory or their specialist retailers, every distributor their specialist retailers or even every specialist retailer sales manager their sales staff. All data should be regularly synchronised with the manufacturer's CRM.


10. Keep the overview!

One of the most important tasks of a well thought-out lead process is to create transparency in indirect sales. ‘Who does what, when, how?’ is not only there to measure the partners, but above all to optimise manufacturer support for the sales partner.

Important KPIs such as:

CR = Conversion Rate

ADT = Average Deal Time

TTP = Time to Pick

ADS = Average Deal Size

PLI = Pipeline Index

are key indicators for the analysis. For example, reports that show which sales partners are hard-working but weak in closing deals provide concrete assistance for those responsible in indirect sales.

Please note: Reports must not be complicated and time-consuming to retrieve. Rather, these analyses must be offered to all participants (with the respective view of their data) at regular intervals (e.g. once a week). The following applies here: You don't need to collect the reports - they are delivered. If you want to know exactly, there are plenty of in-depth options on the web.

Last but not least:

If you follow all these principles in indirect sales, there is of course no guarantee that all partners will snatch leads out of your hands, give you feedback and you will have more success with partners.

success with partners. But two things are certain:

  1. You get the transparency you need to react quickly and optimally manage lead processing.

  2. You convert significantly more leads into business. The principles presented are incorporated in our product, leadtributor. We would be happy to introduce you to our SaaS for indirect sales.


bottom of page