Every lead is unique and needs to be handled with care. Likewise, each of your partners has different strengths and areas of specialization that should be pulled on. That’s where lead distribution comes in: pairing up a lead with the best matched partner.
Thoughtful alignment benefits both parties, ultimately creating a better sales experience and driving increased revenue.
At the same time, it’s important to also make sure to distribute leads fairly. If all your best leads are going to just a few partners – leaving the rest feeling left out or underutilized – you risk undermining your channel sales program. The assignment process should be transparent, simple and fair.
Here’s how to set up an effective lead distribution workflow that works for everyone.
Start the Lead Distribution Process Off Right
Lead distribution isn’t just a single-step process of handing off a lead to a partner. It’s an ongoing exercise in capturing, qualifying and matching that prospect to the best-suited partner for follow-up.
There are a lot of ways to optimize your lead distribution process and maximize your sales efficiency. Like all good things, though, the best place to start is at the beginning.
You need to first have leads coming in before you worry about the best ways to distribute them.
However you are capturing leads – whether through website forms, pop-ups, direct outreach or anything in between – have a watertight process for managing that transition to sales.
The number of leads coming in doesn’t matter if none of them are ready or able to make a purchase. Before moving a lead down the pipeline, ensure they are legitimate sales opportunities by considering factors like their business needs, budget, timelines and if the contact is the decision-maker.
Screening leads for quality early on will eliminate frustration down the line.
Establishing Lead Scoring Criteria
Just because a prospect is a legitimate sales opportunity doesn’t mean they will be the best fit for all your partners. Lead distribution matches leads with the right partner so it’s important to establish lead scoring criteria that will help identify these perfect pairings.
Consider factors like location, industry, company size and sale size.
Once a lead has been captured and categorized based on specific criteria, it can be assigned to the partner that is best suited to close the deal and offer the best sales experience based on that lead’s particular circumstances.
We’ll dig more into how to distribute leads fairly.
Don’t Forget About Deal Registration Transparency
Before you jump too deeply into improving how deals are assigned, take a look at your deal registration process. Providing partners with transparency and real-time updates about a lead’s progress within the pipeline is critical for the rest of the steps.
Deal registration is a common area of channel conflict in part because it often plays into who gets which leads and who is credited for sales. It’s also one of the foundational pillars of communication with your partners about the status of leads and deals.
If you’re struggling to set up an effective deal registration framework before you lean into the lead distribution process, here are some tips:
- Make it clear who is responsible for deal registration
- Ensure partners understand the steps in the sales process and how to properly register a deal
- Clearly define ownership and what is considered a deal
- Leverage software automation to streamline deal registration
- Reward partners for registering deals
To recap, an effective deal distribution process involves: capturing leads, qualifying them as legitimate opportunities, screening them based on specific criteria and then routing them to the right partner.
All the while, make sure to maintain steady and transparent communication with your partners at all steps of the process.
Play to Your Partners’ Strengths & Traits
Screening and categorizing incoming leads is one part of the distribution process, but the other side is knowing which partners to assign them to. That’s where the beauty of effective lead distribution comes in: finding that perfect match that benefits both parties.
Playing to your partners’ strengths involves first knowing what those strengths and skills are. Mirror the criteria used with leads by considering factors like what industries your partner specializes in and their regional knowledge.
Depth of experience and overall performance are important to keep in mind, as well as what other deals they are currently working on to avoid overloading any one partner.
Think also about partner type and tier when deciding who would be a good fit.
Firstly, what kind of partner would best serve the lead? Is it a reseller or MSP partner? An alliance partnership or a referral?
Each partner type will bring different benefits to the table. A value-added partner, for example, may bring the cherry-on-top to sweeten some deals. Other times, a reseller with deep regional knowledge and a stellar reputation may be the best bet to win over that deal.
Likewise, a higher tiered partner may be rewarded with more leads compared to a partner who is just starting out with your channel sales program.
Distributing leads based on what sets each partner apart can improve both the customer experience and the partner experience, while also improving close rates and increasing revenue.
How to Distribute Leads Fairly
Beyond communication, choosing the right lead distribution strategy will ensure deals are being fairly distributed and that your partners understand how these decisions are being made.
Some of the most common lead distribution methods include:
The most straightforward way to distribute leads – essentially a “first come, first served” model.
Partners can pick which leads they would like to follow up with out of a pool.
Region or industry specific assignments
Leads are partitioned by region, industry or other criteria.
Top performing partners are given priority with incoming leads.
Partners are evaluated and grouped based on strengths, skills and experience. Leads can then be divided among these groups based on fit.
A mixture of lead distribution approaches based on the circumstances.
Whichever method you choose, be transparent about the distribution criteria and document the process so partners know how and why they are being assigned leads.
It also pays to track and measure results of your lead distribution process. Are the partners who are being assigned leads effectively following through? Knowing what’s working can indicate whether the strategy needs to be revisited and also allows you to reward high performers.
Automate Your Lead Distribution Workflow
There are many ways to distribute leads but all can benefit from automating the process.
Manual lead distribution involves either partners picking up leads from a pool or your team individually assigning leads to a specific partner. This can work for small channel sales programs but it’s time consuming and labor intensive. It’s also not scalable and may result in lost opportunities.
Automatic lead distribution, on the other hand, saves time and reduces the chance of errors which results in leads falling through the cracks. A PRM that integrates with other tools, like Salesforce or Hubspot, automates the process while also showcasing the deals in the partner’s pipeline view.
If you are looking for additional ways to improve your partner program and streamline your processes, these resources can help:
How to Get your Partner Portal Ready for Year End – Take a look at your existing partner portals and identify areas that could be cleaned up or improved to set your partner relationships up for success in 2023.
Strengthen Your Partner Program with Content Strategies for 2023 and Beyond – Without proper content, you cannot properly train your partners. Nor could they communicate effectively with sales prospects. To keep your partner program’s content strategy invigorated and forward-thinking for years to come, keep in mind these fundamentals.
Partner Lead Management: Software Solutions & Practices –Getting to the deal registration phase of the partner journey is only half the battle. Establishing a strong partner lead management strategy and leveraging a PRM to implement it will help drive deal efficiency and increase your conversion rates.
The Ultimate Lead Nurturing Strategies for Partner and Direct Sales – It’s essential to customize your B2B lead nurture activities based on your end goal and the context of the sale. Here’s how to create a comprehensive plan, along with best practices to keep in mind when nurturing leads of all types.