As a manufacturers rep or distributor, you work with dozens of different manufacturers — maybe as many as 500 — who send you sales leads in various formats
on a daily basis. Some of those leads arrive via email, others
in spreadsheets. Your manufacturing partners might even
ask you to log in to their CRM to retrieve their lead data.
To make this lead sharing process even more cumbersome,
the leads you receive may not be qualified — missing critical
data such as work, email, phone or website information.
Does this hodgepodge of a system sound familiar? It’s no
wonder that nearly 70 percent of leads are never contacted.
And an uncontacted lead is an opportunity lost. All told, the
typical manufacturer-distributor lead sharing process is far
more labor-intensive than it needs to be.
Imagine your sales staff spending more time nurturing
leads and selling products, and less time trying to track
down phone numbers and emails? For one, you’d be able to
contact each opportunity quicker. And we know that faster
speed to contact rates lead to higher conversion rates.
My company, LeadMethod, provides a lead management
software platform built for companies that sell through a
distributor network. What we’re seeing is that the time it
takes to reformat and qualify leads is overwhelming for
distributors, especially considering the volume they may
be dealing with. This messy lead sharing process prevents
sales leads from being leveraged to their full advantage —
whether due to slow contact time or low follow-up rates. It’s
a huge revenue inhibitor.
So how can distributors make sense of the lead sharing
mess that manufacturers often dump on them? The answer
is to develop a process and implement software that
streamlines the entire lead management function. This
enables your sales team to spend more time selling and less
time following up on unqualified leads.
Here are four requirements of an effective and efficient
lead management system for distributors:
1. Data collection. Streamlining data collection is one
of the most time-intensive and inefficient steps of the
process. It’s a lot of work to organize the myriad leads
coming from your manufacturing partners. Partnering
with a professional services team that can collect all the
data from your manufacturing partners and organize
them into a consistent database format is a significant
time- and money-saver.
2. Data append. Many of your incoming sales leads may
be missing critical contact details, as well as valuable
market details, such as SIC code/description, company
size, website, address, etc. With this information make
sure it’s quick and easy to access — your sales team will
be armed with more customer knowledge, which leads
to a higher win rate.
3. Qualify and score. Each lead should be ranked or
scored to determine its priority level. That way, your sales
staff can quickly determine the highest-value leads that
should be contacted first.
4. Feedback. In your current system, can you quickly
and easily share the status and/or quality of every sales
lead in your funnel with its respective manufacturer?
The ability to do so provides big-picture pipeline
visibility and critical lead quality feedback so that
both manufacturer and channel partner are working
cohesively toward the same end.
By implementing a proven lead management platform, this
whole process is simple. When you organize, qualify and
score all your incoming leads in one streamlined platform,
your sales staff spends more time closing deals and less time
Justin Johnson is co-founder and CEO of LeadMethod,
a channel sales and lead management software
company. He has more than 20 years’ experience
building software solutions for the manufacturing
and distribution sector. He can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 406-5020.
4 Ways Distributors Can Improve Lead
Management & Increase Sales