Imagine you want to buy a car on a Saturday. You go to dealership A and the salesperson says he’ll call you in 24 to 48 hours. Meanwhile, you go to dealership B, test drive the car you want, ink the deal, and drive home. When the salesperson from dealership A gets around to calling you on Monday morning to talk about the car, the opportunity has passed. The difference? A slow response time.
Slow lead response times is one of the challenges faced by manufacturers that sell via a distributor network — both in terms of how much times it takes to sort through and share a qualified lead with the right channel partner, and how much time it takes that channel partner to make initial contact.
And unlike our dealership scenario — in which sales leads and salespeople exist under the same roof — channel sellers have understandable hurdles. Namely, the partner responsible for contacting a sales lead operates in a totally separate time and place.
Because there are more steps in the process, delays happen.
It’s a reoccurring frustration that we hear time and again from manufacturers in the indirect sales space: the time it takes to capture, share and contact leads can drag on for hours or even days.
Too often this time gap turns an opportunity cold before it has a chance to begin.
A Harvard Business Review study of 2,200 American companies found that those who attempted to reach leads within an hour were nearly seven times likelier to have meaningful conversations with decision makers than those who waited 60 minutes or longer.
And the consequences of slow contact times can have a real impact on revenue — since we know that the first company to follow up with the lead more often wins the business.
Therefore, an easy way to maximize the revenue potential of every lead — and to outpace your competitors — is to increase your time-to-contact rates.
Here’s how to add speed to your lead-sharing process:
Step 1: Automate lead capture & distribution
The key to selling with speed — and thus maximizing the revenue potential of every lead — is to automate the lead capture and distribution process. This removes the manual labor that often bottlenecks. Using a software platform with automated lead capture and distribution capabilities, the lead is shared with the appropriate partner instantly. Your channel partner can then make contact within your specified window, when connection and conversion potential is highest.
Step 2: Track. Adjust. Optimize
Do you know the exact time-to-contact rate for every opportunity in your sales pipeline across your distributor network? Without this information, it’s impossible to set expectations or tweak procedures. You’re essentially flying blind — hoping that leads are being contacted quickly, but not really sure where or when it’s happening. By contrast, when the status of every sales lead in your pipeline is clearly visible in real-time, you can not only see if and when the lead was contacted, but you can make adjustments as you go.
For example, you notice a distributor is on average taking four hours to make contact with the sales leads you share, and you want see if a time-to-contact of 60 minutes or less has an impact on conversion rates. With a lead management software platform, you can easily identify, monitor, make adjustments, and track the results.
Slow contact rates limit your ability to leverage sales leads to their full advantage. But the good news is that by improving on this one simple metric can have significant impact on your revenue stream. No need to increase your marketing budget, or spend more on advertising.
Simply take steps to ensure that your channel partners having access to and are contacting shared leads faster, and before your competition does.