7. September 2016
You are in a quandary. On the one hand, your partners complain you are not providing enough leads. On the other hand, they complain that the leads aren’t sufficiently qualified. No matter what you do, leads go untouched by the channel. Does it seem like providing leads to the channel are like those mythical magic beans? They could either be a waste of money or pay dividends. Let’s explore four ways to make your leads pay off:
Identify your goal:
That’s simple, right? Sell more stuff through the channel. While that’s the ultimate goal, leads should be looked at as a process, not a transaction. Be selective about who you provide leads. I suggest you use them for two purposes, to ramp up new partners and to retain your top performing partners.
Make leads a key part of your onboarding process:
Combined with account planning, leads provided to new partners create the foundation to bring training to life. Conduct a virtual “ride-a-long” to help them qualify and close their assigned leads, as well as the opportunities they’ve identified on their own. It may take some extra time, but you’ve invested money in recruiting the partner and generating the lead. Taking the time to make both efforts pay off makes good business sense.
For your top performing partners, qualified leads are a reward for their focus on your business, and are typically recognized by these partners for their true value. They are already well engaged in your channel processes and are more likely to follow through on their assigned leads.
Make it personal:
Becoming too reliant on your partner management system(s) can be dangerous. Partners are busy and you are one of many product lines they sell. The simple truth is they will not provide updates on leads in your system. You are often fortunate if they just accept or reject leads. Use systems as a platform to provide information to the partner regarding a potential customer’s specific areas of interest, including documents they’ve downloaded, or pages they’ve visited. Think of the background needed by the partner to start a relevant conversation with this prospect. Then personally reach out to the partner to make sure they’ve received their leads, confirming with them that you are there to help with the process. The most successful salespeople I have seen use systems as a way to facilitate communication with a partner rather than expecting the system to serve as the primary method of communication.
One of the most common phrases I hear is, “We don’t allow partners to register leads. We’ve done all the work and handed the lead to them so they shouldn’t get an extra discount.” You are asking them to take a lead that may or may not be qualified to their standards, insert themselves into a buying process that they haven’t been involved in until now, and then close the loop for you so you can track the results. Why wouldn’t you want to pay them the deal registration discount for that? Can you reliably track where the lead came from anyway? Experiment with offering the additional discounts to see if you can improve the overall return on your lead investment and increase your channel revenue. Partner leads are one of the most requested partner benefits, while being the most under appreciated by partners. Therein lies the quandary. However, if you are selective in assigning the leads you’ve cultivated, leverage them to foster and grow your partner relationships, and appropriately reward success, you just might find your golden goose.
This post by Gina Batali-Brooks, President, Is Inspired, was recently published in our new eBook, The Top 10 Things Making Channel Chiefs into Insomniacs, and What to do About It. In creating this guide for Channel Chiefs, we tapped our network of top channel strategists to provide thoughtful, meaty, practical advice on Chiefs' key questions about the market today. Click here to down full eBook for recommendations that will help you transform your channel operations, accelerate your indirect sales — and sleep peacefully.