COME ON NOW, BE HONEST. Are you still sending leads to your resellers by fax or email? Then you know how difficult it is to get feedback on how the lead is progressing. Which reseller’s doing what? How do things stand at the moment? How much revenue have your channel initiatives generated? No matter if it was people who download something from your website, said they were interested in a special offer, visited one of your events or participated in a competition. All the contacts need to be qualified, processed, and forwarded to the right salesperson. “Managed”, in other words. But how? You know it as well as we do – resellers aren’t crazy about using vendors’ software tools. Channel partners don’t like people snooping over their shoulder. And anyway, they don’t see the point in using two different systems – their own and the vendor’s. Fair enough – but that begs the question of how you get more visibility into what they’re up to. What’s the reason why partners aren’t working on opportunities properly – or at all? Here are a few suggested reasons.
The lead’s gone “cold”
This is probably the most common reason for a lack of results once you’ve forwarded it to a partner. The lead was generated effectively but took too long to be sent to the reseller. Even if there’s only a delay of a few days, it could mean that the customer is lost for a whole investment cycle, which could easily mean a year or more. Believe it or not, quick reactions to leads differentiates you from the competition. If you react fast, you can get results fast too. If you react after a long delay, things aren’t looking good. Why? Because the customer might think this “carelessness” applies to your quality and service levels too.
“Leaky” lead funnel
The result of leaks in the lead funnel is that the partner hardly closes any deals, despite the fact that a lot of leads have been generated. At various stages in the lead process, leads disappear – for example, they might have been sent to the wrong partner. Or the lead is for a tiny deal that’s not going to be of interest to a larger partner. If there’s no process in place to send these leads back, they are just forgotten and never followed up. The magic word here is matching. Every inquiry and ever partner get their own profile. Result: the profiles are matched, and each partner gets the leads suited to them.
The reseller has had bad experiences
If a channel partner has had a bad experience with the leads they get, they won’t work on more leads coming from the same source. And may just ignore a really hot lead, so it never gets followed up. That’s why it’s important to indicate lead quality, especially when sending a mixed bag of them. That way, the partner can prioritize which ones to follow up first – and has a good idea what to expect from each one.
Information is lost during the forwarding process
If important information goes missing during the lead process, the partner won’t be able to deal with the inquiry properly. It may even be sent to the wrong partner. Either way, the whole thing doesn’t make a good impression on the contact. Partners prefer to work on leads that come with plenty of information about them. That’s logical: it’s a sure sign that the lead’s been prequalified in a professional way.
Processes fall into an endless loop
Companies can lose a lot of time and money if they let leads go through the same process or sub-process several times. For example, if a profile form is filled out properly at a trade show, the call center won’t need to waste time re-qualifying the contact. And the lead can then be followed up without delay. Staff should also always note which materials they’ve given the contact. The most exciting marketing CD loses its appeal when the contact received it for the third time.
No transparency of the lead process
It’s difficult to improve a process if you don’t know what needs to be improved. How much time elapses between the first contact and a callback by a salesperson? What percentage of your current leads is still waiting for a callback – and which ones are they? Who’s responsible for dealing with them? Think of your entire lead process like a critical business process that needs to be rigorously documented and monitored at every step. That will enable you to intervene quickly and effectively if there’s a problem at any point in the process.
Tips & Tricks around Channel Lead Management.
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