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.