For companies that sell their products through a network of channel partners and distributors, engagement is king. That’s because the more actively you engage, the more you sell.
According to SiriusDecisions, a whopping 79 percent of sales leads generated by the manufacturer are not contacted by the channel partner.
And traditional forms of engagement, such as follow-up phone calls or emails, are both ineffective and hugely inefficient.
The good news is, you don’t have to increase your marketing budget or generate additional new sales leads. The right engagement strategy should maximize every opportunity to sell to the leads you already have.
Here’s what you need to know to create an effective channel engagement strategy:
1. Connectivity. Manufacturers whose products are sold through dozens or even hundreds of network partners and distributors are least effective — read: convert fewer sales — when they rely on email and spreadsheets for sales execution. To overcome disparate systems and processes requires a connected network of channel partners communicating via the same platform. This kind of 360-view solution allows you see the status of every deal, and turn more leads into opportunities.
2. Visibility. You can’t fix what you can’t see. Once your pieces are connected, it’s critically important to base decisions on a real-time view of your pipeline status by distributor.
Rather than cross your fingers and hope that you’ll reach your sales goals, with a single data source on a unified platform you can gain up-to-the-minute insights into the the status and size of various deals. The data also offers important insight related to the performance of your channel partners.
3. Contextual Enablement. Keeping channel partners updated with the latest sales pitch, product positioning or new features is a challenge, particularly if they have to navigate your website or search through electronic catalogs to acquire the information they need. Or maybe you’ve got some material in your partner web portal, but they have to log-in to get it, let alone remember how to find it.
Either way, they’re likely seeing a sliver of what you have to offer and they may be missing the most powerful materials.
The solution is to provide sales and product information to your distributors at their fingertips, right when they need it. We call it contextual enablement, when you can deliver helpful, contextual information on-demand throughout the deal flow — all without relying on your channels to track down portals, catalogs or website information.
4. Optimization. Once you’ve established connectivity, visibility and contextual sales enablement, the next step is to create a continuous real-time feedback loop of communication to improve lead quality, deal conversion rates, and sales execution. When a distributor receives a lead, is it simple for him or her to score it? Are you wasting resources on a call center or sending out an email or paper survey to see if the lead is worthwhile?
Conversion rates go up when all your players share a common communications platform. Here’s the secret to performing this well: Keep it simple. If the task is complicated or requires extra steps, it will be ignored. Your solution should make it easy for your channel partners to score leads and communicate their status.
5. Insight. A data-driven approach to understanding distributor performance prevents you from making decision based on assumptions. Without a single, unified view of channel performance, conversion rates, lead response times, not to mention your ability to spot trends or make revenue forecasts, is limited.
Data allows you to gain a 360-view of your channel network, including high and low performers, patterns over time and opportunities for improvement.
Get these channel-engagement strategies right, and you will help your distributors sell more. A lot more.
See a winning channel engagement strategy in action. Request a demo