Lead management and distribution channel influence are intertwined—yet there are camps on both sides who both say they are the fundamental driver of product movement, and that the other side simply accommodates the direction. Both are wrong. The synergy that occurs to cause growth in the distribution channel is directly influenced by lead generation and influenced by increased awareness and presence of distribution in new markets. It’s a chicken and egg situation to argue semantics about who comes first. What’s important to know is a good, practical understanding of how the two elements rely on each other and impact each other regularly.
Understanding Lead Generation Today
In the modern context, lead generation is no longer about names on a phone list. The old outbound approaches to lead generation are dated and do not deliver needed results for business growth. The simple fact is, most people ignore these efforts and use their phone machine to block the rest. While auto-calling has tried to break through, instead it has created even more consumer animosity and tools for automatic blocking.
Instead, true lead generation is coming through Internet activity and tracking what people are researching to consider a purchase, also known as inbound marketing. Take for instance Lynden, Inc. a transportation and logistics company. They were able to increase call inquiry by 93% using an inbound marketing approach. The approach included acquiring leads from their website using landing pages along with marketing automation and lead intelligence. Additionally, Lynden has a reporting dashboard that can measure digital marketing campaigns impact on generating sales qualified leads (SQLs).
Using Partner Relationship Management software, you can gain similar insight into the performance of your distribution channel.
When Does Distribution Get to Play?
You leverage distribution channels to get your product into the hands of the end user. Your distribution channel has to always be on and always be connected. It’s good to think of the modern distribution channel as engines that run faster or slower depending on their input, but they are always running. The last thing anyone wants is for the engine to stop entirely. Industry 4.0 is ushering in a connected distribution ecosystem where the manufacturers, supply chain, distributors, retailers, and end user are all digitally connected.
Sprint and UPS have a really amazing model in play with the marriage of consumer lead data working with distribution in an integrated manner. Over 85% of Sprint’s consumer phone orders are handled, packaged, and moved by UPS in an integrated production and shipment system between the two companies. The approach has streamlined the steps from factory to shipper to retail tremendously. Instead of treating the functions as different territories, distribution is melded with sales and the data is acted on both in terms of product generation as well as with establishing the shipping and delivery channel. The result is a faster product delivery to consumers based off of a lead generation that occurred hours before.
Lead generation and distribution channel influence are no longer separate. If you want your company to take advantage of all the data at its fingertips on leads in the most efficient and profitable manner, that data needs to be shared with the entire operation and used simultaneously. Without that paradigm shift and removal of territorial thinking, the fundamental lesson of modern lead management is missed entirely.