INTERVIEW WITH PHILIPP VON DER BRÜGGEN
Successful closing in the lead management process often fails with sales partners. It is by all means important to closely build them into the process and to motivate them to become part of your lead management.
Philipp von der Brüggen knows why joint lead management with sales partners is essential and how it works. The B2B communication expert offers comprehensive knowledge of complex sales structures. At the Lead Management Summit 2017 Mr. von der Brüggen and his company leadtributor sponsored the Lead Management with Partners track. We spoke with him before that to discover why that ‚Lead Management with Partners’ discipline is so important to master.
Mr. von der Brüggen, you are sponsoring the Lead Management with Partners track. What is your key message to the attendees of the Lead Management Summit 2017 in Würzburg?
Philipp von der Brüggen: Here is the topic that’s very important for us: lead management is too often mixed up with lead generation. We try to sensitize the conference attendees to the fact that the lead process has a start but no finish. The task of lead management is to produce a process to care and develop potential and current customers. All company departments should be involved.
Our focus point is connecting sales partners to that process. We show how to intelligently connect the partner in the lead management process so that it results in a real Closed Loop.
Successful closing in many organizations fails with sales partners. In your view, what are the basics for a trustful and mutually promising partnership?
This is really very easy. The better is your lead management, the happier are your sales partners. They are the primary beneficiaries as they get more and better leads.
Sales partners prize good leads and would take as many as they can get. Why this often doesn’t work that way? Because the lead process with sales partners is a one way street. Leads are distributed by mail. Very seldom would you see a comprehensive digital process in place. Lead distribution without an intelligent feedback channel is completely outdated. Because the system cannot learn. The vendor produces leads for a big black hole. They throw the leads into the hole all the time. The sales partner cannot contribute to improve the situation, as their feedback is neither recorded nor evaluated. The whole thing lacks transparency and efficiency and doesn’t make the customer happy either. Because when the vendor doesn’t know where the customer stays in the purchasing process, they cannot reasonably react to that.
Hence, the three success factors in lead management with sales partners are:
Good leads: In the past companies did the same with sales partners as with their own sales departments. Everything was thrown in the same basket, from hot requests to trade show quiz participants and whitepaper downloads. Internal salesforce complains: the sales partners leave the whole stuff out. In the best case they can select the most promising contacts. For the co-operation with sales partners the same rules apply as in the direct sales: Produce good opportunities (real MQLs / Marketing Qualified Leads) in close coordination with your sales partners and automate the lead distribution and processing. Only that way you can see at once who, when, where and why hasn’t processed which leads (or processed them too late). Only that way you can keep control over the whole process and react immediately.
Reasonable lead distribution: Introduce systems that distribute leads immediately based on objective criteria. This could be partner competence level, distance, certifications or partner level. Lead distribution is too often a power tool of the sales department, which is consequently not the best option for the lead itself. Beside that, you will speed up the lead processing significantly if you automate the process. Very often leads are manually distributed to a region/ segment/ partner account manager or head of sales before they are actually given to a partner. Lots of time is lost on that and the highly paid sales organization should give away their valuable resources for lead distribution.
Reward, and sanctions as well for the partner: this is an obvious success factor. Partners love to be rewarded. Digital lead management provides lots of possibilities to automate this. Hardworking or successful partners will get more or higher quality leads. Exactly that way you can ‘punish’ partners that don’t process the leads on time. This should be done to avoid that hundreds of leads fall unnoticed between the cracks.
Digitization is indispensable in the enterprise and you cannot stop the progress. Why is it critical to connect your sales channels?
As we already discussed, the lead process is an enterprise-wide process. By mistake lead management is always attributed to marketing only. But in reality the customer’s journey through your whole enterprise must be actively shaped and partly automated. Starting with marketing communication channels and on to sales, customer support etc. the information should run in a closed loop, otherwise lead management won’t work. Your efforts are useless if you informed about every click, download or email opening, when you produce your scoring and ratings based on this data – and the lead ‘for technical reasons’ gets stuck in the sales phase. What happens then? What is the next reasonable step from the customer’s view? Your whole lead management process stumbles without this information.
Let’s consider the following scenario: You are a telecom provider and you have distributed a promising lead for 100 mobile phone cards to a sales partner. The partner has lost the lead to a competitor in the bidding process. Irritating! But when you have these data, you would know which arguments you would use to win this customer again in about 18-20 months because the contract expires in 2 years. Such a contact enters an automated transfer program. Those digital processes play a key role in your success. If data collection fails to cover all domains, so that the customer is ‚developed’, your competitors will teach you how to do that. By not connecting your channels you give the big potential away.
It’s not for nothing that Bitkom compained in their lead management study that most leads are thrown away. They also cited a Gartner Group study that claims up to 70% of generated leads remain untouched. The potential for improvement there is really unbelievable, isn’t it?
What would be your message to companies in terms of lead management with partners?
It’s simple: Digitize the lead management process with your partners. Stop distributing leads manually by email, post, fax and phone and replace all these with a well-thought lead process. You would be surprised on your following insights, as well as how much sales potential is there to discover. Our solution leadtributor has for instance interfaces to many CRM and marketing automation platforms. In the best case your sales partners become part of your new lead management process within a week. The shift is quick and easy. Starting from that moment, NO leads are left behind and you are always up to date on the current status.
Thank you for the interview!
If you are interested in experiencing the leadtributor live in action or if you have any questions, we would be glad to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org or +49 89 716 77 59 40.