Channel Marketing Leads are Like a Gift from Your Grandma

Handcrafted Marketing for B2B Technology Businesses

Channel Marketing Leads are Like a Gift from Your Grandma

I was recently involved in the launch of a new Partner Programme with one of our clients and in one of the breaks was chatting with a reseller about lead generation. We debated whether vendor channel marketing teams should make it a priority to generate leads for their channel partners?

As a general rule, my own view is  a resounding no. Here’s why..

Vendor generated leads are like a Gift from your Grandma..

We all love receiving gifts – right? But what if the gift giver is shooting a bit in the dark in their choice of gift? They feel like they should give you *something*. It was easy  when you were a little kid and had simple wants and desires, but now you’ve grown up, you maybe don’t see your grandparents quite as often as you once did, and your wants and desires have become more complex… They either buy you something you really don’t want, or revert to a “safe” gift like socks…

You can’t hurt Grandma’s feelings…

You accept the gift, you smile and enthuse about such a marvellous gift – you REALLY shouldn’t have Grandma….and then you shove it in a drawer and forget about it. You can’t bring yourself to tell her it’s not really what you want or need, because you love her, she’s gone to such an effort and you don’t want to sour your relationship with her.

Channel Marketing Leads can be the gift you never really wanted.

In the past I’ve often seen this play out with leads generated in vendor channel marketing programmes. As the vendor you *think* you know what your partners want as leads and you *think* they want you to do all the heavy lifting and deliver leads to them on a platter.

The problems are many fold..

  • As a vendor you need to be seen to distribute the leads both fairly BUT also appropriately to the right partners that can best pursue that opportunity. Rarely is it possible to do both these things at the same time. 
  • Resellers won’t be twiddling their thumbs waiting for your leads to drop into their lap. Will they be ready to pursue these new opportunities at the point at which they land?
  • How many channel marketing managers will have an intimate knowledge of every partner they work with? How then, can they be sure they are allocating leads to the right partner?
  • A vendor driven programme, to be of use, will need to be able to deliver enough volume of leads to make the campaign worthwhile to run and split the results N ways in the channel. The quality vs. quantity challenge then ensues. Deliver poor quality and you might as well never have bothered. 
  • Partners are unlikely to turn their nose up at leads you offer them. Their marketing person will take them, say thank you very much, likely with no buy-in from their sales guys to following them up, ultimately leading to them being wasted. And, as a vendor, you think you’ve done good, but in fact you’ve just wasted your time and money.

Who “owns” the lead?

As the vendor channel marketing manager who delivered the lead you may well feel like you “own” the lead. But it’s notoriously difficult to follow that lead out into the channel and track it through its life cycle. Inevitably the partner feels less ownership and is less inclined to report back to the vendor its progress.

Granny – Buy me a Gift Certificate Instead!

It works with Granny and it can work with your channel partners too. With a gift certificate you can put some of your own money toward buying the gift you really want and one that you will cherish.

Have your channel partners create and own their own campaigns. Give them a “gift certificate” of a % of the budget to run it, the assets, content, creative etc. as your contribution. In return ask for reporting on it’s success. It’s a much better plan all around delivering the ownership of the campaign, its messaging, targeting, its timing and ultimately the resulting leads exactly where it needs to be – in the channel.

Don’t waste time generating leads that’ll just get stuffed in a drawer…

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