3 Ways Manufacturers Can Accelerate Sales

Suppliers that start to leverage data and metrics to optimize their channel partner relationships will see huge gains. Strong results will come when suppliers start to proactively manage and communicate with their channel partners in order to drive more revenue.

Understanding channel partner engagement with leads and opportunities is critical. For example, research conducted by LeadMethod shows that more than 70% of channel partners do not regularly follow up on leads and opportunities that are shared with them. That amounts to a significant number of missed sales.

Why it Matters

“Suppliers that embrace process change and software investments to better engage their channel partners will see significant growth. We recommend three core strategies: Understanding Channel Engagement, Creating a Process for Channel Feedback, and Providing Training and Sales Coaching” Justin Johnson CEO LeadMethod

And what about the feedback from channel partners on leads and opportunities? Did any of the leads turn into opportunities? Did any turn into sales? Suppliers consistently tell us that less than 20% of their channel partners provide them with feedback. A partnership can’t work properly when the 2-way communication between suppliers and their channel partners is completely broken.

But, it’s no surprise, channel partners are not given an effective tool to give feedback on what happened to the leads. So, there is a major disconnect between suppliers and their channel partners on lead status and sales pipeline analysis.

Suppliers that sell through channel partners must start to focus on the core metrics and activity that contributes to making the most of the partner relationship. Just having channel partners is not enough to maximize revenue potential, the relationship must be built on solid engagement and activity metrics to ensure growth.

Suppliers that embrace process change and software investments to better engage their channel partners will grow by more than 20%. We recommend three core strategies: Understanding Channel Engagement, Creating a Process for Channel Feedback, and Providing Training and Sales Coaching.

1. Understanding Channel Partner Engagement

Understanding channel partner engagement is critical in order to measure the effectiveness of partner relationships. Suppliers need to know if and how often channel partners are engaging with leads, opportunities, and repeat clients. For example, suppliers need to clearly understand if leads are being contacted by channel partners, and how fast the initial contact is happening. Also, is the lead being nurtured in a timely and effective way. Having a scorecard of these metrics is critical for measuring the effectiveness of each channel partner and identifying areas that need improvement.

2. Creating a Process for Channel Partner Feedback

Two-way communication with channel partners is essential for success. But it’s so much more than just an annual sales meeting or a quarterly status check-in call. Partners need a process and tool to quickly and easily provide feedback on leads, opportunities, and projects that they are working on.

The process and software must be easy to use and work with channel partner business processes and systems. LeadMethod, for example, is a channel lead management software program that makes it fast and easy for channel partners to provide feedback on leads and opportunities and integrates will all major marketing automation and CRM programs, making the solution really easy for the channel partner.

3. Providing Training and Sales Coaching

Suppliers have always struggled to engage their channel partners for training, sales coaching and product information. Suppliers offer their partners information on their website, catalog, intranet and some even offer an online partner portal. But partners have to login to a system and take the time to go hunt down the information when they need it. So, because partners don’t know where to find a lot of the supporting sales material, they just rely on the knowledge that they have picked up of the products and that often creates challenges and misinformed conversations with clients.

Suppliers need to position sales materials, product information and training when channel partners need it most – when they’re following up on a hot sales lead. We call this Partner Sales Enablement, giving partners the right information at the right time so they can close more deals.

In summary, suppliers that embrace process change and software investments to better engage their channel partners will see strong growth. We recommend three core strategies: Understanding Channel Engagement, Creating a Process for Channel Feedback, and Providing Training and Sales Coaching.

Click here to schedule a live LeadMethod demo or call 800-406-5020.

For the complete white paper published by the Sales Lead Management Association click here (PDF).

5 Steps to Maximizing Your Channel Sales Model

You’ve worked hard to establish and build your channel partner and distributor relationships. Selling through channel partners is expensive and requires a lot of time, but, if done correctly, can yield significant revenue growth and profits. Getting the most out of the relationship requires a focused and defined approach.

In reality, doing this correctly often is complex. The responsibility is on the manufacturer to establish, build and manage these relationships on an ongoing basis. Constant communication and collaboration are critical for maximizing results.

How do you know if your investment in a channel sales model is working and delivering the results you expect? It requires a methodical approach and the attention of the executive team on a routine basis to ensure investment and partnerships are being maximized and that the business is benefiting from the approach.

The following five steps provide a framework for that regular executive review and can quickly resolve issues when performance is not being maximized. For the complete analysis and recommendations visit our published article: 5 Steps to Maximizing Your Channel Sales Model.

1. Understand the Costs of the Channel & Maximize Profitability

2. Deliver Relevant Training & Education

3. Incorporate the Voice of the Distributor Into Decision Making

4. Standardize Systems & Processes

5. Align Incentives & Support With Desired Outcomes

 

Accelerate Distributor Training and Education With Sales Playbooks

Boost Distributor Sales with Playbooks

If you sell through channel partners and distributors, then you know they are likely juggling dozens of products — yours included – as well as the related product info and sales messaging. Make it easier for them to access the most updated product information, and you stand to increase not only their engagement, but also sales.

This recent article published in Industrial Supply Magazine explains how to do just that:  Accelerate distributor sales training and education with sales playbooks.

  • Why understanding distributor needs and knowledge gaps should drive your training activities.
  • How to deliver the right sales content “in context” so the right information is always available and updated.
  • How to build a sales playbook that increases revenue and is continuously updated with distributor feedback.

At LeadMethod, we help companies improve their distributor collaboration, feedback and performance. Discover how we can ensure that your distributors have the resources and technology they need to close more deals.

5 Strategies to Improve Channel Partner Feedback and Increase Revenue

When it comes to selling through channel partners and distributors, most manufacturers cite a critical problem: They don’t get enough distributor feedback on their sales leads. In fact, our clients report they only hear back on 10 to 20 percent of their leads. That’s a major problem, and manufacturers are losing thousands if not millions of dollars sales each month if leads are being ignored by distributors.

Fortunately, you can change the status quo. Here are five ways to improve distributor feedback, and boost sales in the process. For the complete article published in Flow Control Magazine visit 5 Ways to Improve Channel Partner Feedback and Increase Revenue.

1. Simplify the feedback process

Why do most manufacturers not get consistent feedback from their channel partners and distributors? One main reason is they primarily use email and/or a phone call to communicate feedback. Not only does this take a lot of time, but also there’s the potential for information to get lost in the fray.

There are better ways to simplify the feedback process. And software can help. LeadMethod for instance, eliminates the software login process for distributors and instead presents the critical data they need in a secure, encrypted Web interface. This allows distributors to quickly and easily provide feedback on leads without the hassle of responding to individual emails or phone calls.

2. Use technology to your advantage

Over the years we have heard of many strategies that manufacturers have used to solicit regular feedback from their channel partners and distributors. Several companies that have asked their distributors to fill out surveys and forms. Some continually blast their reps with emails asking them to respond, and one even hired a telemarketing firm to call their distributors regularly to collect the information they wanted. Imagine the cost of the latter.

LeadMethod offers distributors with an easy solution to report back on the leads, opportunities, and projects in the pipeline. And there is an email nurturing program to remind them when to update records as they progress through the sales process.

3. Prioritize your leads

If you’re a distributor, you may be greeted by two dozen new sales leads each morning. But how do you know which ones demand immediate attention, and which ones can be followed up with at a later time. It’s an important question. Consider that only 25 percent of leads are immediate sales opportunities, according to Gleanster Research.

By not identifying which leads are priorities and thus helping your distributors determine when to contact which leads, manufacturers are losing sales. You can solve this problem by pre-qualifying the leads and assigning each a priority or score. This allows your distributors to quickly recognize which leads they should tackle first, and to devote their time to leads that will more likely result in sales. LeadMethod gives you the ability to score leads as they enter the system, or the score can be passed through from your marketing automation software program.

4. Automate your lead management

To give distributors the best chance of closing deals, manufacturers have to improve their lead-management processes in order to get the leads to the right sales rep fast. InsideSales.com’s lead response research paper reports that the odds of connecting with a lead if called within five minutes versus even 30 minutes are 100 times greater.

Getting leads to your distributors while they’re hot will help them close more deals.  In fact, companies that automate lead management see a 10 percent or greater increase in revenue within six to nine months, according to Gartner Research. LeadMethod offers advanced rules based auto-assign functionality ensuring that the right leads gets to the right channel partner within seconds.

5. Make data-driven decisions

A benefit of creating a constant stream of feedback, is a lot of new data. The feedback you receive from distributors will be a real-time snapshot of your sales pipeline, lead status, ROI on marketing spend, distributor performance, and a whole lot more.

But having the information is just the beginning. Manufacturers need to analyze that data and then make use of it. For example, you’ll quickly find out which sales reps respond to every lead. You’ll also be able to tell who is getting to leads the fastest. Alternately, you’ll identify the sales reps that only follow up on a small number of leads and some that take three to four weeks to call on a lead. Such information can then help manufacturers make data-driven decisions that increase revenue, whether it’s promoting a high-performer, offering additional support to a sales rep or determining the most effective leads sources.

Spotty feedback about sales leads and sporadic communication with distributors has long been the norm for many manufacturers. But given the technology now available, there’s no reason it needs to stay that way. Don’t let a communication breakdown affect your sales any longer. With these five tips, you’ll improve distributor feedback, streamline your sales process and watch your revenue soar.