Business leaders today rely on data in order to make calculated, smart decisions for their organizations. To stay ahead of the competition and constantly changing business environments, seasonal trends or economic indicators are no longer good enough — particularly with the technology tools available today.
Data is the new currency of the digital age. Whether your company was born a digital native or not, every business needs to empower tracking and analytics systems and processes to ensure you’re meeting customer needs and not leaving money on the table.
Leveraging data provides insights that help you answer a host of key performance questions, which business owners and managers can turn into decisions and actions that can increase revenue.
You can manage what you can’t measure
One of the leading challenges faced by companies that sell through channel partners is pipeline visibility. Tracking and analysis of key performance indicators (KPIs), not to mention marketing effectiveness, is mere guesswork when a considerable chunk of your sales leads are handed off to outside distributors or reps outside the four walls of your business.
And without a clear understanding of key sales performance data and metrics, sales leaders can’t measure what is working and what isn’t working in order to grow their businesses.
You’re essentially throwing money at marketing and demand generation and crossing your fingers that something will stick. Or, you may be relying on past indicators that have already taken place — sales numbers or gross margin, for example. Yes, these are helpful but they won’t give you the complete picture. Regardless if sales are up or down this quarter or year-over-year, you want to be able to answer the questions of why it happened and how.
How to bring visibility to your sales pipeline
The first step to bringing visibility to your sales pipeline is to identify your sales KPIs. These should provide visibility into current sales activity that will impact future productivity. Tracking these indicators now will allow you to identify gaps and make future adjustments. KPIs for channel-based businesses might include:
- Lead contact rates — How many leads are being contacted versus assigned by distributor
- Lead contact speed — How long does it take a sales lead to be contacted once it’s assigned or accepted
- Lead-to-opportunity conversion rates — What percentages of leads convert to opportunities in your pipeline
- Sales cycle time — How much time does it take for a lead to become a sale
- Close or conversion rates — What percentage of leads convert to customers by distributor
- Channel pipeline revenue value — what is the total $ from the opportunities being managed by your channel partners and distributors.
Next, you need to engage with each of your channel partners to collect this data. The best way to do this is through regular, ongoing feedback. If your channel partners have the ability to quickly and easily provide feedback on the status of every lead they are assigned and at every stage of the customer journey, you’ll be ready to analyze your next move with clear, actionable data.
For example, you might discover that the speed-to-contact rate for Distributor A is 24 hours. And since you know that speed matters — faster speed to contact rates lead to higher conversion rates — you can then work with your partner to reduce that rate.
With actionable intel into which partners or regions or processes have room for improvement, you can put a strategy in place to move your business — and your relationship with your distributors and channel partners — in the right direction.
It all starts with putting tools in place to collect and connect all of your data in one spot. With this solid data foundation, you can gather insights, visualizations, and metrics that maximize the potential of every sales lead and support overall revenue growth.