Creating Pipeline Visibility for Manufacturers Working Through Dealers

DUSTIN CLARK

Video Transcript

Okay. So you’ve got in the next year, you’re looking at your planning and this year, this year you say, I’m going to make a difference in our pipeline visibility. Good news. If you’re in e-commerce, your pipeline visibility is crystal clear. You know where somebody is coming, you know where they’re converting, and it’s great from there.

But if you’re in another type of business, a B2B type of business or even worse, where you’ve got an extended partner network where you’re selling to B to B to consumer or another business, the more layers that you see between your sales pipeline and your customer, right? Like if there are different things where you sell to a distributor and that distributor sells to a customer, you sell to a distributor that then sells to a wholesaler that then sells to a customer. Here’s where the bad news creeps in. That means you’re losing visibility in every layer in that pipeline.

So what do we do about that? One of the things that we commonly see that we can help address this problem is to use the best estimates that we can. So that we can still get some idea of pipeline velocity days to close, what are our conversion rates? Those things are incredibly helpful in understanding the ROI of marketing. Looking at your return on ad spend, understanding channel effectiveness.

One thing we commonly see with companies that have distributed sales networks, the ones that have more clear dealer or distributor agreements, the better visibility into their pipeline they see. Now, what do I mean by that? If you’ve got a sales partner that is willing to, for instance, accept or reject the lead or to make sure that when they fill out some type of sales acknowledgment, if that’s a warranty registration or a purchase order, any of that type of activity that they can report back to you gets more of that clarity into your pipeline, right? If you don’t have that information, it’s what I like to call the Valley of Shadows. You’ve got the lead up until that point, until it’s sent to a dealer or a distributor, and then it really kind of effectively vanishes until you maybe see a warranty registration or a purchase order down the line.

But if you’ve got your dealer agreements or distributor agreements set up in such a way where you’re getting information, even after you’ve handed that lead off, that’s ideal when you’re looking at your pipeline velocity.

What are some different ways that you can potentially do that? What we’ve seen is that writing in the dealer agreements or if a manufacturer or holding company requires their companies to use the same set of software. So every distributor has to be a Salesforce customer or they all have to use X software, they all use HubSpot, whatever it might be. Having some of those type of things written into your agreements can really help you recapture that pipeline visibility.

Another question you might be asking is if you’re in an environment that has different types of technology, either your distributors or dealers use one thing and you use something else, or maybe even more common, you use something. But then they have all kinds of different platforms. That’s okay. You can set up some type of dealer lead acknowledgment software, some type of dealer portal, something that you can use to have them like go here to get your leads and then at least you’re controlling some of that pipeline visibility and that velocity.

The other thing is that you can also have them acknowledge those leads or report their sales. Again, whether that’s warranty purchase order, whatever that might look like. If they’re putting that into that portal, then you’re at least getting some of that visibility back.

The purpose of this always is how are we working towards the holy grail of marketing, which is where we can see where the lead came in all the way to where it became a sale. In some organizations that have these distributed sales models, you may only be able to see 20 to 40% of that, but that’s better than nothing. We can make assumptions based on that 20 to 40% that says leads that come from these channels commonly close at these rates or this is the quality that they need or this type of lead channel needs more nurturing than this one does.

We see that commonly with email leads or people that you’ve already captured before, or else they wouldn’t be converting on an email. So we know that they need a lot less. They’re going to be more likely to close than somebody that came in to, for instance, maybe a paid media channel or a special offer. Being able to get that visibility into a centralized platform where you’re basically kind of trading customer information back and forth with your distributed sales partners is a really great way to try to at least capture back some of that power in your pipeline visibility.

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