Successful partner prospecting starts by learning how to beat the clock in the high volume game of numbers.
When a good portion of your living comes from VAR prospecting you learn some short cuts and tricks – I’m going to share some of those with you today.
GET ORGANIZED – Organize your time, your prospecting database, your documentation and your thoughts. Set aside research time and call time.
Your prospecting targets will be more available and open to discussions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays – not saying you won’t have some success on Monday or Friday, but if you really want to ring the bell you’ll need to dedicate some time to researching your prospects before you call and/or email them. As you organize your call schedule keep in mind that you can increase your contact touches during prime time if you stack your calls based on the rolling time zones – start in the east and move west as the day goes on.
Before you begin sending emails and making calls make sure all of your prospecting collateral is ready to go along with your partner agreement. You want to be able to instantly respond to any request for materials. If you wait a day or two to send the promised material you could miss out on the moment of enthusiasm you established when you first connected and you’re setting low responsiveness expectations.
Most sales people have some familiarity with the “Rule of 10’s” – Reach out to 100 prospects to make 10 actual touches and sign one partner contract. What if we could vastly improve on the 100:1 ratio – what if we could compress our time in some way? Suppose we could increase the win ratio by 300-400-500%? Well, you can!
To be fair, there’s no process that will overcome a poorly differentiated product or service offering; and, we can’t expect contract closing success if we haven’t refined our prospecting message so that it speaks to the VAR executives’ interests, expertise, revenue motives and business model. Your product is important in this conversation but the business value proposition – the value of working with your organization – is first and foremost at this first touch point.
Make sure that your Partner landing page is current and offers an appealing overview of your program. If you’re using an email tracking software one of the best indicators of partner interest is a prospect who lingers on your partner landing page – be sure to call them right away!
Assuming we have those bases nicely covered we move on to pre-call research. This is where we begin to manipulate the Rule of 10’s by prequalifying the targets. What we’re trying to accomplish here is to reduce the number of wasteful calls you make and push your activity into the richest part of the prospecting vein. Our process is to first go though our prospecting database and prequalify each target in several categories:
- Type – VAR, MSP, Consultancy, Developers, etc.
- We group our calls based on “best profile type” and make our calls with the message intended for that group.
- Fit – We score from a high 5 (Great fit) to the lowest 0 (Bad fit) based on factors determined during the program development process.
- We’re looking for low hanging fruit to maximize our call time and on the first run through the database we target only 5’s and 4’s.
- Activity – do they look like a company on the way up, stagnant or floundering.
- Take notes about their uniqueness (products, awards, etc.) and mention that in your opening email to support why you believe them to be a good partner fit.
DON’T BE SHY – PICK UP THAT PHONE!
There are a number of ways to organize your calls for maximum efficiency and we’ve tried most at one point or another. For high volume outbound calling and coordinated follow up emailing we prefer solutions that simplify tasks scheduling, sorting/filtering to establish daily call priorities, easy note creation with cut’n paste functionality, custom field creation, one click calling and generous canned report options with good customizable features.
The best option we’ve found is PipelineDeals.com for it’s intuitive simplicity, filtering, one-click calling (we use Skype) and over the top support staff. Another bonus is their API for easy data exporting. (Disclaimer: We are a proud affiliate and happy to recommend). Since we use a number of custom fields that are not related to the standard CRM workflows and fields, we prefer to use the CRM separately from the corporate CRM and only import the information after the prospect becomes a partner.
Research is done, you know who you’re calling and why – collateral is on hot standby and the clock is ticking…
I prefer a headset for hands free. At least 90% of your calls will go to voice mail – leave a brief message about who you are, why you’re calling and you would like 5 minutes to introduce the program and product to see if there’s a fit. Message should not take a minute.
Send call follow-up email with brief intro and why you think that “they” are a good fit for your partner community. Be sure to include the link to your Partner landing page on this email – a simple click by them lets you know they’re reading your emails and there is some curiosity. We limit our call backs to two unless there is some level of positive response to encourage us to keep looking for that contact opening.
Establish a goal for your calls. We generally use “scheduled demo” and we score the opportunity at 50%. Delivery of the demo is your tipping point – if they’re going to sign a partner agreement with you it’s here that the magic happens. Don’t squander this opportunity, everything you’ve done up to this point is wasted if you drop the ball here. Be ready to deliver your partner pitch, value of relationship and tie it all together when you show them a product that “fits” their business model and expertise. If you are aware of any complimentary or competitive products they already sell be ready to speak to the coexistence of those solutions with yours. If you have any examples of successful co-implementations, put them forth!
A couple of important afterthoughts – differentiators are king and they are not limited to your product. Your program can be a differentiator beyond margin. Emphasize your partner centric approach and if you have zero channel conflict don’t let that go by without comment. The executives you’re calling are most interested in what the partnership will deliver in a year and if you go into your product feature/function list right out of the chute (unless they ask) you will be just one more of the annoying vendor callers with little to offer them.
You also have another great option – You can let the PROs do it for you. take a look at our VAR Prospecting Pro service.