Episode 14 - Sales Leads
Sales partners expect more from their providers these days but as we all know there many complexities to building a successful channel strategy. Providers that are winning the channel game have adopted agile and innovative solutions to control their message, push their sales strategy, and provide the right tools, all while responding to constant change in their business and in the marketplace.
The concept of providing partners with sales leads is not a new one, but automating the way you collect them, distribute them to partners and a process to ensure those leads are not wasted requires new thinking and automation. In this MicroCast we are going to share some ideas about how to generate leads for very little money, the business rules you should consider before you decide to give those leads out, and the automation to deliver, manage and track the way leads move through the funnel using Convey’s partner portal technology.
Finding sales leads doesn’t have to be time-consuming and expensive.
When it comes to finding leads, you have technology-driven options that improve the quantity and quality of leads that you can provide to partners. Your channel organization can engage in content marketing, social media outreach or drip marketing campaigns to drive inbound demand. But for this MicroCast, I want to focus on a strategy called data scraping to produce larger lead lists. Although you can try data scraping yourself, it’s much easier and cheaper to use freelancers who have technology that scour the web to generate leads. Freelancers use your criteria to create a custom lead list at a fraction of the cost and of much higher quality than any lead lists you might purchase.
So how do you gain access to these valuable resources? Freelancers exist all over the world and the hourly rate for someone in India or in the Philippines as an example that can generate a lead list is embarrassingly low for the high-quality output they produce. The best way to engage a high-quality freelancer is to use a service like UpWork or FIVRR, spelled F-I-V-R-R where freelancers are profiled on their portal. You can put in your project requirements, find freelancers who have done projects like this before, and get reviews on their work from other customers. You pay the platform provider and they pay the worker.
Freelancers can create a customized lead list using a process called data scraping. In simple terms, they use software to access multiple websites to find information on companies or individuals including names, titles, contact information, email addresses, company size, or locations. That information is delivered to you in a spreadsheet so you can import it into the technology you will use to manage and distribute those leads. You can even take this further and pay a freelancer to do some investigation or calling to qualify that lead.
To give you an idea of how effective freelancers and data scraping is as a strategy, Convey employed a freelancer in the Philippines at $3.50 an hour and for less than $600 they delivered a 6,000 person lead list of individuals inside companies in the Southeast that were candidates to use technology in their buildings to reduce energy cost.
Set business rules so partners understand your expectations and those leads are not wasted.
The worst thing you can do is give leads to someone without any expectation of getting something in return. My suggestion is to have partners opt in to receive leads from you versus just sending them out. Leads are valuable and they should be reserved for partners that have achieved a certain status in your channel, that are willing to act on the leads, and that will allow you to follow up on their progress. Insight from the partner gives you what you need to assess the lead quality, how they marketed to the prospect, and what happened to the lead.
Make sure you let the partner know how you got the lead, the stage that the lead is in, whether it is qualified or not, if the lead is in a specific vertical market, or anything about what they are receiving to set their expectation.
Use technology to manage the distribution and follow up strategy for leads.
Automation is the only way a channel program can effectively get leads into the hands of a large number of partners, track their progress and monitor if their lead program has been effective. Although there are many ways you can do this, I’d like to profile how Convey’s partner portal manages lead distribution with its prospect management technology.
Aside from having a CRM to manage partner data, Convey’s partner portals have a separate prospect CRM to hold lead lists. Leads can be added into this customizable database when individuals fill out forms on the portal, but more commonly they are added by uploading them from an Excel or CSV file. Once the leads are in the CRM, the portal owner can set up business rules that define how to transfer leads, have prospects accept them or if you will require feedback on the lead process.
Here are some of the rules that you can define for prospect transfer:
- Decide if leads will be available to multiple partners or delivered to only one partner at a time.
- Once a lead is available in the system, partners get notified and the last thing you want is a few partners taking all the leads. The system prevents that by letting you set a maximum number of leads one person can have in a given month.
- If a partner wants the lead, do you want them to formally accept it and if so, how long will you let that lead stay in queue before it’s taken?
- What information will you let partners see before they accept the lead and what information will you supply once it’s been delivered? You don’t want to give away all the information until the lead is in the hands of a partner.
- And last but not least, do you require that the partner update the status of where they are in contacting the lead? If the partner lets the lead sit there without getting in touch, you can always pull the lead back into the pool if you want and redistribute it.
Using automation to manage the lead transfer process allows you to bake in fairness and neutrality to the way leads are delivered and gives you the insight into which partners are most active and successful in accepting leads and translating them into customers.
Help partners market to the leads you have given them.
Your channel program likely has a marketing department, but the partner organization likely does not. You may want to help the partner soften up those leads by providing marketing tools they can use to approach that lead digitally before they try and call to schedule an appointment. Provide the partner with sharable content that they can brand with their company graphics and contact information. Deliver an email template they can use to send an introductory message to the prospect.
If you have a large number of leads you’ve handed partners, then consider creating email marketing campaigns for partners so that they can deliver campaigns to their lead list. If you are using one of our portals, we have built a service into them called Conduct. You can create the email campaign complete with 4 outbound emails and a sign-up page, deliver it to the partner dashboard and notify the partner it’s there. All they have to do is add their contact list and hit the “launch” button to automate how it goes out.
Providing the marketing assets to partners gives you the opportunity to control the message, make it easier for partners to follow up, and if you use the tools built into our partner portals, you gain insight on the effectiveness of how those tools are used and how prospects are responding to email marketing campaigns.
Nothing will win the heart of your partner more than by giving them valuable leads, making it easy and efficient for them to work them, and the tools they need so they don’t have to spend time inventing the marketing they need to follow up. Remember that leads are valuable so get your partners to opt in to the lead program, make a commitment to follow up and give you insight on the progress they’ve made with the leads. That lets you make adjustments on the type of lead, the quantity, and how you produced it so you can make leads more and more effective.
Stay tuned to our MicroCast series to learn more about the marketing tools inside of Convey partner portals and how they can help partners translate leads into customers.