“What type of leads are the best for you?” I asked.
“Generally, the only deals I close are ones where there is a matter of urgency—their current system is broken or they have a mandate from above to have a system in place within a specific timeline. I need the customer to say, ‘We need to get this system in place ASAP.”
Wow I thought, this guy practically needs the customer to have the checkbook out when he calls him.
This Channel Partner is not alone. In a recent Poll of Channel Partners, 68% rated the quality of leads they received from the vendor as “Below Average” or “Poor”.
Our research at Sales Benchmark Index found the two biggest culprits.
1. The leads given to channel partners are often unfiltered inquiries from a website, webinar, or trade show. I’ve seen leads blindly passed along to Channel Partners with invalid phone numbers, students who were merely researching the project, and even a few “Mickey Mouse” inquiries. Eventually, your Channel Partners will dedicate minimal effort to pre-call planning or stop following up on the leads altogether. Without a vested effort in converting a lead to an Opportunity, it will simply stay a lead.
2. Channel Partners do not have the resources to adequately nurture leads early in the sales process. Many channel partners can only pay sales reps to pursue active opportunities. In this economic environment, businesses are kept lean to maximize short term revenues and, more importantly, control costs. They do not have the capital to invest turning “Tire-Kickers” into buyers. Our friend from above may be an extreme example, but Channel Partners think a Lead should be ready to engage in the Sales Process when they are received.
How are you currently screening and filtering your leads? Do you have dedicated Lead Development Reps to qualify the prospects? Once qualified, are they thrown over a fence to your channel partners, or do you seek feedback?
World Class Organizations turn leads over to their Channel Partners who are ready to enter the sales cycle (not necessarily purchase your product). They have qualified them using BANT (Budget, Needs, Timing, and Authority), evaluated them for fit (does the project fit the channel partner’s expertise/scale), and in the best cases, set up a transition to introduce the Lead to the Channel Partner. After they turn the lead over, they seek feedback from the Channel Partner on fit and readiness to ensure their leads are well qualified. Every organization should have a sample template of questions to qualify customers- How much of a lift would this be to do it for a Channel Partner?
Download this BANT Criteria Guide to show how World Class firms qualify their leads before turning them over to the Channel Partner.
Are you doing this? Think of the impact from a well-managed Channel Lead Program. By saving them the cost of following on baloney leads, you’ll give them more time to spend working with higher quality prospects and ultimately win more business.
Channel Managers, how are you screening leads for your prospects? How have you increased the quality of leads and how has impacted your business?