Engagement is king when you’re selling products through a network of channel partners and distributors. The more actively you engage, the more you sell. But, our data shows that most of the sales leads generated by the manufacturer are not contacted by the channel partner.
That’s just a wasted opportunity. The right engagement strategy should maximize every chance to sell to the leads you already have.
The good news is, you don’t have to increase your marketing budget or generate additional new sales leads to boost engagement. And you don’t have to turn to more traditional forms of engagement to fill the gaps.
Manufacturers often sell their products through dozens or even hundreds of network partners and distributors. They’re the least effective when they rely on emails and spreadsheets for sales execution. In other words, they convert fewer sales. Obviously, that’s not in line with your goal.
To overcome disconnected systems and processes, you need a connected network of channel partners communicating via the same platform. This gives you an overhead view to see the status of every deal and turn more leads into opportunities.
You can’t fix what you can’t see. Once your pieces are connected, it’s important to
base decisions on a real-time view of your pipeline. You don’t have to cross your
fingers and hope that you’ll reach your sales goals.
With a single data source on a unified platform, you can gain up-to-the-minute
insights into the status and size of various deals. You’ll also have access to metrics
that can measure the performance of your channel partners.
Keeping channel partners updated with the latest sales pitch, product positioning or new feature is a challenge. This is particularly true if they have to navigate your website or search through electronic catalogs to get the information they need. Even keeping product data in a partner’s web portal isn’t foolproof since they won’t always know what they’re looking for. Either way, they’re likely seeing a sliver of what you have to offer and they may be missing out on the most powerful materials.
The solution is to provide sales and product information your distributors can have at their fingertips at all times. We call it contextual enablement, which means delivering helpful information on-demand throughout the deal flow — all without relying on your channels to track down portals, catalogs or website information.
Once you’ve established connectivity, visibility, and contextual sales enablement, the next step is to create a continuous real-time feedback loop of communication. Doing so improves lead quality, deal conversion rates, and sales execution.
When a distributor receives a lead, is it simple for them to score it? Are you wasting resources on a call center or sending out an email or paper survey to see if the lead is worthwhile? These are the questions you’ll want to answer during optimization.
Here’s the secret to optimizing communication: Keep it simple. If the task is complicated or requires extra steps, it will be ignored. Your solution should make it easy for your channel partners to score leads and communicate their status. And remember, conversion rates go up when all your players share a common communications platform.
A data-driven approach to understanding distributor performance prevents you from making decisions based on assumptions. Without a unified view of channel performance, your conversion rates, lead response times, and ability to spot trends or make revenue forecasts is limited.
Data gives you insight into your channel network, helping you spot high and low performers, patterns over time, and opportunities for improvement.
Get these channel-engagement strategies right, and you’ll help your distributors sell more — a lot more.