Distributor Dilemma: How to stop wasting time on leads

As a distributor or channel partner, you work with dozens of different manufacturers — maybe as many as 500 — who send you sales leads in various formats on a daily basis.

Some of those leads arrive via email, others in spreadsheets. Your manufacturing partners might even ask you to log-in to their CRM to retrieve their lead data.

To make this lead sharing process even more cumbersome, the leads you receive may not be qualified — missing critical data such as work, email, phone or website information.

Does this hodgepodge of a system sound familiar? It’s no wonder that nearly 70 percent of leads are never contacted. And an uncontacted lead is an opportunity lost.

All told, the typical manufacturer-distributor lead sharing process is far more labor-intensive than it needs to be. The time required to reformat and qualify leads is overwhelming for distributors, especially considering the volume you may be dealing with. Imagine your sales staff spending more time nurturing leads and selling products, and less time trying to track down phone numbers and emails?

For one, you’d be able to contact each opportunity quicker. And we know that faster speed to contact rates lead to higher conversion rates.

So how can distributors make sense of the lead sharing mess that manufacturers often dump on them?

The answer is to develop a process and implement software that streamlines the entire lead management function. This enables your sales team to spend more time selling and less time following up on unqualified leads.

Here are four requirements of an effective and efficient lead management system for distributors:

  1. Data collection. Streamlining data collection is one of the time-intensive and inefficient steps of the process. It’s a lot of work to organize the myriad leads coming from your manufacturing partners. Partnering with a professional services team that can collect all the data from your manufacturing partners and organize them into a consistent database format is a significant time- and money-saver.
  2. Data append. Many of your incoming sales leads may be missing critical contact details as well as valuable market details, such as SIC code/description, company size, website, address, etc. With this information — make sure it’s quick and easy to access — your sales team will be armed with more customer knowledge, which leads to a higher win rate.
  3. Qualify and score. Each lead should be ranked or scored to determine its priority level. That way, your sales staff can quickly determine the highest-value leads that should be contacted first.
  4. Feedback. In your current system, can you quickly and easily share the status and/or quality of every sales lead in your funnel with its respective manufacturer? The ability to do so provides big-picture pipeline visibility and critical lead quality feedback so that both manufacturer and channel partner are working toward the same end.

By implementing a proven lead management platform like LeadMethod, this whole process is simple. When you organize, qualify, and score all your incoming leads in one streamlined platform, your sales staff spends more time closing deals and less time qualifying them.

3 Critical Questions CFOs Should Ask About Channel Sales

The role of today’s CFO is evolving. Once upon a time, CFOs and budget managers were tasked with preserving the assets of an organization by minimizing risk, getting the books right, and running a tight financial ship efficiently and effectively.

In today’s fast-changing digital workplace, CFO’s increasingly play a more diverse role as strategic decision maker, responsible for leveraging data to shape overall business strategy and direction, often under increased pressure to cut costs and grow revenue.

What does this mean for CFOs who helm finance departments in the channel sales environment?

Critical channel sales questions

Today’s modern CFO has the opportunity to be more streamlined, collaborative, and most importantly, accurate. To do that, there are three key questions a CFO needs answer about channel selling activity:

  1.     What is the forecasted revenue contribution from channel sales this month/quarter?
  2.     Are my marketing expenditures generating a return?
  3.     How do we increase revenue from existing partners?

But the channel sales space presents hurdles — communication and visibility, chief among them —  that make providing answers to these questions inherently difficult.

In traditional manufacturer/channel partner relationships, forecasting, for example, is nearly  impossible to predict with significant accuracy and timeliness. And what good is forecasting data if it’s unreliable or revealed too late to be relevant?

Outside the four walls

Obtaining  up-to-date and accurate information about quarterly sales performance, opportunities for cost savings, or where to make additional investments is problematic because so much sales activity take place outside the four walls of the company.

Once a sales lead leaves the building and is handed over to a channel partner, it becomes  difficult to track as it moves through the funnel. This “dark hole” severely limits the ability to forecast or track deals. And without a unified view of performance, including conversion metrics, across your distributor network your ability to respond to changes, make investments, or chart a new course — in essence operate with any agility — suffers.

A unified channel revenue view

The key to better visibility — whether you’re looking for ways to streamline costs, determine ROI on your marketing spend per lead, or want the ability to budget more accurately — is  a single, unified platform. This unified view is the most comprehensive way to understand, manage, and improve the channel sales process, and also offer business-critical insights important to successful CFOs, such as:

  • Real-time revenue visibility and pipeline reporting
  • The ability to track performance metrics on marketing programs relative to lead conversion rates
  • Channel Partner performance over time

The ability to understand, manage, and improve the channel sales process are essential to optimizing the entire operation and seeing improved results.

To learn more about LeadMethod’s performance tracking and forecasting capabilities, schedule a live demo.