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Improving Distributor/Dealer Accountability

Distributor network

Manufacturing marketers working with a distributor or dealer network face unique challenges. Among them is that sinking feeling of frustration we can have as marketers when we know we’re generating leads, but we’re unsure of how they’re being managed after we send them into the dealer network.

Too often, when we think about accountability in the context of a distributor or dealer network, we think more about enforcing compliance—be it brand compliance, policies, or what have you. I want us to think about accountability in the lead management realm differently. In a world where more and more leads will be sourced online, we have an opportunity to introduce new ways of managing leads and transitioning them to the distributor/dealer network. In so doing, we can better serve our dealer networks while building more accountability into our distributor/dealer relationships. Let’s look at a few actionable steps that you can take to get started.

Making Dealer Finders Work Harder
I think we can all agree that everybody wins when prospects can quickly and easily locate a dealer near them via your website. Unfortunately, most dealer-finder modules in manufacturer websites stop at providing basic, general dealer contact details. That’s a missed opportunity to both deliver, and get, more leads and information about your buyers. Here are a few ways to get them working harder for you and your dealers.

Call Tracking – Rather than simply serve up dealer phone numbers on your site, start tracking calls. Even the lightest-weight call tracking approaches can give you actionable data surrounding the volume and quality of the calls your marketing efforts are driving to the dealer network. More advanced call tracking solutions will, naturally, deliver more robust information.

Contact Capture – A “Contact Us” form on a dealer listing, as basic as that is, is an all too rare occurrence. Moreover, when a Contact Us form does exist, most often, that information is simply transmitted to a dealer inbox and the trail goes cold. So, first things first, please make sure you have a contact form available in your dealer search results. But you can go further.

Lightweight Dealer Portals – As you work to move beyond basic lead capture, consider capturing that information and sending it to an online dealer portal, while simultaneously notifying the dealer of the lead via email. While this solution isn’t nearly as robust as a comprehensive dealer CRM integration, it’s far better than what most manufacturers are doing today. Build the system to keep the lead details visible only via the portal, and send an email notification to the dealer that links to the portal lead listing for quick reference. This will enable you to track views of the portal listing and ensure that the leads you send to dealers are being seen. Should you want to build in additional elements to monitor sales activity, this type of portal can easily be expanded to allow for dealer-side lead activity updates.

Give Dealers Better Lead Info With Interactive Tools
We’ve long been proponents of using interactive tools as conversion content here at Kula Partners. In addition to their superior conversion performance, interactive tools allow you to capture richer information from your prospects that you and your dealers can use while simultaneously delivering them a more customized—and often more helpful—user experience.

For example, think of an online calculator that an HVAC manufacturer might feature to help people calculate their potential savings when making a home air conditioning purchase. Such a tool would capture a collection of details surrounding a homeowner’s specific requirements and current system specifications. With that information, useful energy efficiency projections could be generated for the site visitor while simultaneously capturing enhanced lead data. Send that data to the lead listing in the dealer portal as described above, and your dealer network is automatically equipped with better information to inform the sales process.

This sort of tool also greatly increases transparency between manufacturers and their distributor/dealer networks with respect to assessing lead quality. Simply put, the additional lead information captured by an interactive tool can help maintain an objective view of lead quality that is shared by both the marketers and the dealers who connect with leads more directly.

Working with a distributor/dealer network doesn’t have to feel like you’re tossing leads into a black hole. With a relatively few number of steps you can begin to transform your dealer lead management program, gaining more visibility into lead lifecycle, dealer performance, and the lead quality your marketing efforts are delivering.

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