Lead Status Is a Black Box for Most Manufacturers
Manufacturers share leads with their distributors using a variety of active and passive approaches. However, once those leads leave their hands, very few know how they’re handled. How big is the problem? According to recent research from MAPI and Zift Solutions, 84% of responding manufacturers provide leads to their distributors, but nearly two-thirds have little to no visibility into how those leads are handled. That lack of lead visibility makes it incredibly difficult for manufacturers to maximize marketing spend or to measure marketing ROI. What are some causes?
Manufacturers share leads outside the partners’ sales process. As shown by our data, manufacturers deliver leads either by manual processes or via homegrown or vendor-provided portals. These traditional approaches require partner sales reps to manually manage a separate disconnected lead funnel that exists outside their normal sales systems. This adversely impacts adoption and lowers visibility into lead disposition and sales cycle updates.
Partner sales reps don’t receive quality leads. While manufacturers and channel partners agree that not all leads are created equal, few agree on definitions of quality. Passing poor-quality leads to partner sales doesn’t build confidence or encourage them to update lead status. Nearly two-thirds of manufacturers believe that closed-loop lead visibility would provide much-needed insights into channel partners’ perceptions of lead quality.
Leads aren’t quickly assigned. When it comes to sharing leads, speed is critical. While a third of manufacturers use a portal to share leads with channel partners, over half have a sales rep manually assign the lead. Our data show that manufacturers with poor lead visibility rely more heavily on manual lead distribution methods, compared to those with good or excellent visibility.
Too many partners to support. Although distributors are consolidating quickly, many manufacturers still manage over 500 channel relationships. The volume of partners supported, complexity of lead assignment, and the lack of automation that aligns with the partner’s sales processes reduce visibility into supplier leads. Manufacturers with poor lead visibility have 40% more channel partners than those with excellent lead visibility and 35% more than those with good visibility.
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