PRM Best Practice: Collaboration – Lead & Opportunity Management


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Converting vendor generated demand into sales leads which can be distributed in a fair and consistent manner to the channel partners most suited to close them has got to be one of the most basis initiatives to get right. Why? Because most vendors spend a great deal of money on marketing but, as we have explored in earlier sections of this document, when you go to market through an indirect channel it can be extremely difficult to assess whether you are seeing a reasonable return on your investment. That?s because in general, you don?t talk to the customer and you consequently do not know why they chose to buy your product. Most of the vendors RelayWare encounter still struggle with lead management programs. The main stumbling blocks are:

  • Lead qualification: How to qualify a lead on behalf of a partner?
  • Partner selection: Which partner should get the lead?
  • Lead distribution: How to issue the lead and to whom within the partner?
  • Lead tracking: How do I know if the partner followed up the lead? Did they close it?
  • SLA’s: What response times are needed and are reasonable? What to do if they’re not met?
  • Follow up: Who, when, what is the process, what are the prompts, what are the actions?
  • ROI analysis: Per campaign, how many leads generated, followed up, won, lost, pending, time to close, value?
  • Reporting and CRM: What did the customer buy? What else did they buy and will they buy again?

Vendors trying to manage lead management programs using CRM systems that are not fit for purpose or worse, they manage the process with spreadsheets should expect results that are predictable and disastrous:

  • Poorly qualified or “cold” leads being issued to the wrong person at the wrong partner
  • Leads being given to the same “preferred” partners every time
  • Poor response times
  • Lack of follow up
  • Poor or non-existent reporting
  • Poor ROI

Partners are left wanting and vendors feel cheated because their marketing investment and the leads produced appear to deliver poor sales in return. The simple answer is automation. There are a number of commercially available lead management systems either as stand- alone solutions or as integrated offerings as part of a PRM system that do a fine job. But if automation is not an option then manual processes can be made to work on a small scale.
Some simple things to remember:

  • DO formulate a detailed workflow for the process
  • DO establish a clear set of business rules
  • DO develop a detailed understanding of each of your partner’s geographical, technical, skills and market coverage limitations to ensure correct lead-to-partner matching
  • DO define a consistent selection criteria to determine which leads go to which partners and on what basis
  • DO insist on partners signing up to SLA’s and response times
  • DO insist on accurate and timely reporting
  • DON’T distribute sales leads though your account manager’s unless they can exercise some degree of partner-agnosticism
  • DON’T send leads to reseller principles or other top management, they will rarely find their way to the sales team and if they do, they will have gone cold by then…
  • DON’T assume, check! Make sure you contact the customer shortly after distributing the lead to ensure that they have been contacted and that their experience was a positive one

Some of the most sophisticated and successful programs involve automation allowing internal or 3rd party sales agents to be able use a PRM system to drive the campaign management and prospecting activity. They can create and document leads, build a sales pipeline, qualify and then select the most appropriate sales person at the most appropriate partner to receive the lead – and deliver it via the partner portal and email. The lead can then be tracked through to closure and the partner sales person is able to request support (eg. special pricing) online and get that support within hours or minutes. Furthermore, tracking and reporting is made easy and whilst managing the opportunity from campaign to closure the vendor was able to effectively assess ROI.

Next week we’ll look at Deal Registration.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mike Morgan
Mike has over 20 years of ICT, OA and CE channel sales and marketing management experience and is responsible for Relayware's global go-to-market strategy as well as the sales and marketing functions while overseeing the company's operations worldwide. Mike is recognized as one of the industry's leading experts in indirect go-to-market strategy best practice.


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