Handing off a warm lead to a dealer is precarious. We can fix that.

Only one out of three independent dealers respond in a timely manner to an inbound lead generated from a brand’s marketing campaign. Let that sink in: 66% of inbound leads—your leads—end up in a digital black hole.

Marketing campaigns get complicated when your brand sells through independent dealers. You put in a lot of time, energy, and money to reach potential customers with engaging messages and multiple impressions. But when the all-important close depends on an independent dealer, you let go and hope for the best. It’s a little bit like doing a tandem skydive: You jump out of the plane and trust the guy you’re strapped to knows what he’s doing (and that you won’t die). OK, maybe it’s not exactly like that. But you get the point.

We can all acknowledge the important role that dealers play in the sales channel of most complex B2B products—they are the local experts. Often, customers view the dealer as the face of your brand. In fact, it is quite likely that customers don’t differentiate between your brand and the independent dealer who does sales and service. But we can also agree that not all dealers are created equal.

The lead vortex

Here’s a common scenario we’ve witnessed. A B2B brand with a very specific product, and an even more specific customer profile, has gone to great lengths to target its customer and build a marketing effort to guide that customer through the sales funnel. Finally, that magical moment arrives when said customer fills out the contact form built to go directly to the nearest dealer. A hot lead lands right in the dealer’s lap—sounds like an imminent sale, right?

Based on our own informal research, we’ve found that, on average, only one out of three independent dealers respond in a timely manner to an inbound lead. Let that sink in: 66% of inbound leads end up in a digital black hole. This can happen for a lot of reasons. But there are two issues we’ve seen repeatedly with our clients—and both are preventable.

Leads are going to the wrong dealer.
And by “wrong” dealers we mean underperforming dealers. Allow me to oversimplify: If the only criteria you have for funneling leads to your dealer is a locator tool, then 50% of your leads are going to below-average dealers.

There’s no follow-up from the brand.
From our experience, once a customer fills out a contact form that is passed to a dealer, that lead goes into a marketing blind spot. The brand owner just lets it go with wishful thoughts for a sale.

Thirty-three percent may be a stellar batting average, but in the game of lead gen, it’s pitiful.

It can get better. The solutions take some planning and discipline to implement, but the extra effort will pay off in improved ROI of the campaigns you’re running. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you plan your next marketing effort.

Give your warm leads to your high-performing dealers.

This can add a step to your campaign; however, it will eliminate a lot of waste. How you approach this depends on your organization and dealer network setup. If you’ve evaluated your dealers, then you’re ahead of the curve. Simply create a campaign-specific landing page and filter out the low performers. Or, depending on the volume you expect, have your internal sales team field the inbound leads and select the best dealer for that customer. Taking on this piece of the process allows you to maintain control a bit longer, eliminating that “let go and hope for the best” position.

Own the follow-up process.

Every warm lead has a short shelf life. Once a lead is passed to the dealer, you are still the brand owner. It’s your responsibility to make sure the dealer has been in touch with the customer. This can be accomplished through the dealer CRM, a custom campaign dashboard, or a follow-up call to the customer. Don’t wait for the campaign to end and then try to assign blame for poor results. Let the buck stop with you.

The results will be worth it.

You may be thinking that one of the main benefits to having dealer channels is so you can run the campaign and then sit back to watch sales roll in. But the channel is really just an extension of your inside sales team—and your efforts must reflect this. Yes, at least on the surface, building these processes into your channel marketing campaigns can seem like a lot of additional work. The payoff is significant, though, and increased sales will more than offset the effort.

Don’t let your warm leads go cold because of dropped follow-up. Let us help you convert your channel marketing efforts into higher revenue. gary@10poundhammer.com