If you are reading this, then you are most likely in sales (or smarketing). As you already know, keeping your pipeline filled with (qualified) prospects is no easy feat. It requires patience, practice, hard work, and definitely some innovation along the way. Add another layer to the equation and even more complexity when we talk about keeping your partners’ pipes full. Providing your partners with the tools they need to successfully market your products can be quite the daunting task.
Balancing lead management with effective sales prospecting can be a challenge for any business—no matter the size.
However, failing to routinely empower your partners to grow their pipelines inevitably results in inconsistent commissions and irregular revenues (and nobody likes that, let alone the actual partner sales rep).
To help with this complex process, consider fine-tuning these 3 sales prospecting ideas (and make sure you empower your partners through knowledge transfer as well).
1. Effective Emails
We live in the era of constant connectivity and accessibility. That’s why it’s important to encourage your partners to utilize every possible mode of communication. While cold calling and direct mail are traditional methods (even the term traditional makes my skin itch), it’s important to boost digital marketing efforts.
We get it. Developing effective cold email templates can be difficult. Need some advice to pass on to your partners? Below are the core elements of a successful email template:
- Personalized subject lines that encourage readers to open the email (keep this short, the shorter the better, ideally under 4 words; “Peter, thought of you,” “Do you agree, Peter?” Headed to NY, Peter?)
- Introductions that directly inform prospects who you and your company are (keep this short as well, limit run-on sentences and keep it about what your company does for your customers or solves for and not about your company's funding, growth, how amazing you are, or the like!)
- Outlined pain points that help you identify with prospects (and show your expertise and understanding of their day-to-day)
The most important part? Ensuring that your partners routinely check-in with their prospects. Make sure your partners communicate regularly by developing a cadence that matches your content to the stage of the buyer’s journey. Encourage your partners to follow the cadence by giving them examples of best practices and empowering them with the right content. The first email might be focused on creating awareness and establishing trust.
After five days, have them send a follow-up email that includes a mention of the prospect and congratulations (everyone likes to feel special). After three more days, have them make a phone call inviting the prospect to a mutually beneficial event the partner will also be attending. Still no reply? It’s important to follow up, once again. Remember, it takes 8 interactions on average before you get a yes - and that is just the first yes to having the conversation.
The key here is persistence—even if you aren’t selling anything, it’s important that your partners understand the importance of starting an engagement. Engaging prospects with effective, direct communication lets them know you’re serious about working with them, while also giving you insight into what the prospect's persona is based off of the content/emails/calls they interact with throughout the process.
2. Get Social
Your partners should understand that part of knowing their prospects is understanding where they hang out—especially on social media. While the sales process ultimately thrives on face-to-face interaction, the Aberdeen Group found that sales professionals who actively utilize social media are 79% more likely to attain their quotas than those who do not. Need ideas? Consider the following tips and their corresponding platforms:
- Network with prospects (and your prospect’s connections) through LinkedIn. (Think of the Kevin Bacon analogy here: You want to get in front of your prospect? By connecting with their network, you increase the chance that someone in your mutual network will interact with your content bringing your content (and pretty face) up in their feed)
- Join key customer groups on LinkedIn and Facebook to engage with hyper-specific prospects. (this doesn’t mean joining and spamming the group message board, instead learn from other’s behavior in the group. What you will find is that most groups are not engaging their audiences, this is where your great content and conversations come in.)
- Share presentations or sales pitches on SlideShare and Scribd. (with the wealth of info out there, you want to make sure your info is out on those “inter-webs” as well.)
- Monitor mentions on Twitter to see what your prospects are talking about. (Key here is to engage, provide value, and be present!)
Remember, social selling is more than conducting the sales process on social media platforms. Instead, it’s about building long-term connections with prospects.
You and your partners will be surprised where lasting relationships will take you.
3. Put Yourself Outside
Holding events or dinners is an efficient, easy way for your partners to fill their channel partner pipelines. Forget the big steaks and fancy Scotch (sorry Jen Spencer)—events don’t necessarily have to be expensive to be effective.
First, find an industry leader who’s interested in presenting relevant information to your prospects. Consultants in your industry are prime candidates. Plan a light lunch six weeks out, and have partners send personalized invitations that illustrate your event’s exclusivity and promises. Have them promote the event on social media. Have the speaker and sponsor promote the event. And have an attending client write a blog post or two.
No matter what you do, however, be sure to follow-up with clients. Reiterating the importance of authentic, lasting relationships not only fills your channel partners’ pipelines, it ensures that your partners’ sales and marketing teams are the best they can be.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.