Well-managed leads are one of the best starting points for a business’s growth but beware, mishandling them can easily make the difference between gaining or losing valuable customers. Companies that haven't streamlined lead distribution for indirect sales channel partners are missing out on valuable business opportunities.
How do channel partners identify and document leads? Typically a form is used to document the lead opportunity, which includes: contact information, prospect profile information (size of company, industry, needs assessment) and revenue potential.
Lead management addresses two scenarios of sales opportunity development and distribution.
A lead needs to be checked to ensure that it meets the eligibility criteria for it to be distributed to the sales channels. This validation process generally includes reviewing the revenue potential, industry, and products or services requested.
One of the main requirements of a lead distribution/management system is for it to have the capability of distributing leads to the right sales representative, in the right channel, and on a timely basis.1
Effective lead distribution within a partner relationship management (PRM) starts with synchronizing lead data between the CRM and PRM so there is one unified source of data. Automated workflows can be used to sort and assign the leads with triggered notifications to the appropriate partners. Partners logging into the PRM portal, can review the leads assigned to them and can get started right away on follow up action. Tasks, activities, and notes can be added to each lead record, which provides complete visibility into their status for the channel manager.
Once a lead has been assigned to a partner, the internal channel team needs to stay informed on the progression through the sales cycle - the touch points each partner has with a lead needs to be monitored for opportunities for sales support. Effective PRM solutions will provide a snapshot of activities on individual deals as well as overall trends in sales connections.
Tracking – the ability to track the status of leads is necessary to ensure that the leads have been distributed properly and that they are being actively worked. In addition, leads that are converted to sales need to be tracked for commission and reporting purposes.
Reporting – reports need to be generated (internal for management and external for channel partners) that detail and summarize the leads submitted, worked and sold. These are generally monthly reports and it is useful if both the internal and external reports are generated and distributed at the same time.2
With a modern lead management system, channel strategy becomes proactive rather than reactive. A PRM solution gives the channel team real insight into partner activity where they can monitor, engage and support partners in real time instead of waiting for updates, which they have to manually incorporate into a messy master list.
1&2 Moran, Patrick. The Sales Channel Development Guide (Kindle Location 216). US MarketSuccess, Inc.. Kindle Edition.