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Not So Fast! Build a Foundation Before Leads Hit the Funnel

Our customers and their partners continually tell us that they want more leads.

Who doesn’t?

I haven’t met a sales or marketing person that doesn’t want more leads to ultimately close more deals. Because of this constant demand for more leads, most channel marketing and sales professionals believe that their efforts should start with demand generation. However, I question whether demand generation is really your best starting point.

Is Pushing Leads Straight into the Funnel Really a Great Idea?

Remember our recent post about Putting an End to Leaky Pipe Syndrome? Pushing a bunch of leads into the funnel may seem like a great idea. However, without a supporting framework and key elements like nurturing campaigns and established marketing and sales qualification strategies, the vast majority of your leads will never convert to sales.

There’s Got to Be a Better Way (Psssst – There is!)

What Zift Solutions has learned during the past decade of working with many of the most successful channel organizations around the world is that there is a better way. First and foremost, don’t start with demand generation campaigns for partners. Instead, follow these steps to build a solid foundation that helps partners support and nurture leads before they hit the pipeline:

  1. Marketing & Sales Qualification: Start by defining tele-qualification roles and providing scripts to improve the effectiveness of outreach efforts.
  2. Online Presence Enhancement: Use syndicated content to improve your partners’ online presence while ensuring brand consistency and strengthening data and insight about site visitors with analytics. Not providing this means you run the risk of your partners being disqualified early on in the sales process. Social media syndication can also enhance your partners’ social media efforts and expand your reach.
  3. Lead Distribution with Closed Loop Analytics: Your marketing efforts are already generating leads that you share with your partners. Now you can automate lead distribution to deliver them faster, with much less hassle, and increase visibility into what is actually happening to the leads you pass on to partners. Conversely, gaining your partners’ confidence in sharing leads and opportunities with you opens the door to capturing pipeline on their generated leads.
  4. Nurturing Programs: Direct partner efforts for leads that are not ready to buy with both content and technology to help them nurture leads and stay top of mind across the life of a sale. Keep in mind that, according to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost.
  5. Demand Generation: Offer demand generation elements such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) online advertising and email marketing to drive additional leads for partners. But, keep the best practices outlined here in mind and don’t kick off demand gen until tele-qualification, web presence and nurturing efforts have been put into place.

Lead Nurturing
The next time your team screams about wanting more leads, think about whether you have established the proper foundation to drive sales. Then consider which pieces are missing to ensure your partner efforts and marketing investments will have the most success.

Originally posted on Channel Chatter, by Andy Wilson, Zift Solutions VP of Client Services

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