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Wednesday
Apr222015

Three Simple Steps to Getting More Leads From Your Vendors


Leads, they are the currency of business growth. No one ever has too many good leads. Nevertheless, too many business owners simply bemoan the apparent lack of leads, rather than doing much about the problem.

A common habit of MSP and VAR business owners is to complain about the lack of leads from their vendors. It is really time to stop complaining and to do something about it. In many cases, vendors are sitting on lots of leads that are poorly distributed or simply going to waste. Vendors need an elite group of companies that are their go to partners for lead distribution, but this level of cooperation is a two way street.

There are concrete steps every channel partner can take to get more than your fair share of leads from your vendors.

Here are three good ones:

1.    Cultivate a relationship with your Channel Account Manager

My favorite question to ask a partner is: who is your account manager? Too often, the partner doesn't even know their name. Both vendors and partners share the blame here. However, there is no use in being complacent about the problem. Every partner should identify their top four vendors and go really deep with building relationships with your account manager at each vendor; you can’t have a solid relationship with forty different vendors, but you can build a relationship with your top four.

It is vital to take the initiative and reach out to build a two way communication channel. I recommend you share concrete details about your company and about the strategies on where you are taking your business, so your account manager has a complete understanding of your needs and challenges. Ask the account manager about how they are compensated and rewarded. It is vital to understand the interplay of everyone’s economic interests to drive to high levels of collaboration. Be interested in their success first, and you will soon discover they are very interested in your success as well. And then ask them for leads; ask concretely and force them to make a commitment on where you stand in their “go to” list of partners either by geography, vertical, or solution area. Build the relationship first, then make the big ask, and then be ready to be in pole position for their lead distribution.


2.    Get busy with CRM

If you are in the pole position, be ready to drive fast. There is a misnomer amongst partners about who gets the bulk of leads today. People think the leads go to the natural closers. This is not really the case. The biggest problem with leads both inside vendor organizations and with partners is the speed of follow up. Delay is death. For every minute a lead matures, its value declines dramatically. Therefore, speed and organization is of utmost importance.

The only way to be fast and organized with lead follow up is to utilize customer relationship management (CRM) software. While most savvy MSPs have adopted PSA systems such as Autotask and Connectwise, few partners actually fully leverage the included CRM capabilities in these platforms. This is a huge mistake. While there are best of breed CRM platforms like Salesforce, the included CRM functionality in the PSA systems is probably good enough for most partner efforts. The key is to build a simple workflow where lead hand offs from vendors are quickly imported into your systems, so you can follow up fast.


3.    Report back your results

Ah, follow through, the Achilles heel of any sales effort. If you really want to get more than your fair share of vendor leads, you must provide feedback on the leads to your channel account manager. Don’t over think this step. Most people who get leads provide zero feedback. Therefore, any form of feedback is going to immediately differentiate you and put you head and shoulders above the rest.

I recommend a simple weekly memo or spreadsheet where you report back on progress. Move beyond generic and non-actionable feedback: for instance, “the leads were terrible.” That is not actionable feedback. If they were terrible, why? Did you not reach the prospect after six phone and email attempts? Were the phone number and email address correct? Were the prospects in the wrong target market? Did they lack budget, need, or was their timeline too far out? Be specific. Remember, even bad news is good news for the vendor and their marketing team. Even if the leads are subpar, if you can provide concrete and actionable feedback, they can course correct and change the campaign motions to get the right leads into your hands. Your memo or spreadsheet should log and summarize the action you have taken; where you stand on each lead; and the business opportunities and new business you have generated. There is no perfect format for this feedback. But if you follow up and report back your results consistently, I can guarantee that you will get more than your fair share of vendor leads.

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