Andrew Penny, June 1 2017

2 - Engagement - First Contact

... and what Channel Managers need to know


Contact

A look across a crowded room, an accidental touch on the subway – the first contact. That connection is just as important in business life as it is in personal life. What do they see, what do they hear, what do they smell (some sales environments are indeed meant to smell – Cinnabon for example – others… less so).


Why this Matters

There is magic in the moment during that first contact when people start to engage. It could be the first conversation, exchange of information, or even a web visit. It’s the moment the anonymous ‘lead’ becomes a person. If a channel partner is successful in showing a potential customer how your solution might address their needs, they may have won the privilege of travelling with them along the next part of their journey. Without engagement, you are nowhere. You know there is engagement when a lead starts to share information about their issue, about themselves and about how they could see your solution helping them.

The engagement is a highly indicative step in your partners’ sales process. On one level it measures the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns – are you attracting the right leads? On another level it measures the effectiveness of your partners’ sales people – can they convert leads to prospects?

However, failure to do it properly is a waste of time, effort and companies’ resources. And in many cases, burns what could have been a profitable relationship.

As a channel manager, it is up to you to ensure that your target buyers are engaged effectively - either in person or virtually. 

Do I have a Problem?

If your partner has a high percentage of leads that fail to become prospects you have a problem. You need to trap this data and measure lead conversion ratios.

In the retail world when someone says, “I’m just looking”, you know they’ve failed to engage. In the B2B world, failure to get meetings, failure to hold exploratory conversations, failure to get email response are all evidence of poor engagement processes. 

What Causes This?

If you find that your reseller has a low lead-to-prospect conversion ratio you need to dig deeper to determine the cause. Possibly they, or you, are attracting the wrong prospects (we discussed creating awareness and attracting the right leads in the last post). Perhaps there is a problem with your partners’ sales engagement process. Poor engagement can be caused by:

What to do?

Examine your resellers’ web presence and other marketing materials to see if they are focusing on the issues your solutions address (not just the stuff they sell).Ensure your channel members have a clear understanding of exactly who your solutions are designed for (Yvon and Yvette or David and Judith?) and what is motivating them to seek a solution.Develop situation-based questions to help your resellers’ salespeople build rapport. These questions should always be about them and used as a lead-in to discuss the types of problems or desires your products or service address. (“Can I help you?” as an opening line should be banned!).Include training on appropriate engagement tactics in your channel programs. 

What will be different?

Proper engagement will help you to disqualify a lead before you (and they) invest time in what would be a lousy relationship. But hopefully, it will be the start of a solid relationship that allows the customer to get what they want quickly and efficiently!


This is the second in a series of posts on improving sales channel efficiency and flow.  It follows Awareness 

Written by

Andrew Penny

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