A key focus on joint marketing efforts is often lead generation. Lead generation can be a collaborative effort between channel companies and their partners. Joint lead generation has the advantage of leveraging the shared resources and insight of two firms for great reach, more compelling messaging, and greater expertise.
For joint success, lead generation plans should consider the partner’s resources and goals, choose the right type of efforts, and understand what role each firm will take.
Build a Joint Lead Generation Plan to Win
There are more moving parts when two companies work together versus one. When working together with a partner to generate leads, a technology company should develop a broader joint marketing plan that considers the extent of the partner’s sales and marketing resources.
Resources to keep in mind are the time teams can invest and your joint marketing budget. The overall marketing plan should include the joint value proposition, joint goals, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis, and measurements of success.
Joint Business Plan
Creating a joint business plan does not have to be overly time consuming but should at minimum address what market segments you will address, what problems you will solve, and your joint value proposition. Although this may sound simplistic, TSL’s experience is that up to half of all partnerships do not have this in place.
Next, we would add joint goals, a SWOT analysis, and how both firms will measure success. When a joint business plan does not exist, the joint lead generation efforts can help create that plan. When this is the case, executive review and sponsorship of the resulting plan is required so that the relevant teams will support success.
A marketing plan supports the business plan, especially the market segments targeted and problems solved. The lead generation efforts can become a component of an overall marketing plan. In some cases, a joint lead generation effort between a vendor and a partner will fit within an overall partner marketing plan, including tactics that are not vendor specific. For example, a joint lead generation tactic is followed by a partner-only lead generation tactic. In most cases, this should still be okay for the vendor if they have sales coverage supporting the partner.
In addition to pipeline metrics, joint lead generation in new partnerships can have additional value. One area of value is in building relationships between the sales reps of the two firms. This can help create opportunities in accounts each rep is managing separately. In addition, joint lead generation can be a good way to ensure partner reps have the training needed to sell vendor offerings. Finally, joint lead generation efforts can assist in building evergreen web page content.
Another common challenge is not aligning the lead generation tactic with marketing experience, bandwidth, and budget. Before creating a plan, determine the partner’s marketing experience, bandwidth, and budget. Some smaller partners may be very good at project delivery but have little prospecting or marketing expertise. Other times, a partner marketing team may just not have the bandwidth to focus on a joint effort.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the partner sales team will both need and want to follow up on leads generated and be trained to do so. The best time to make sure the above items are aligned is in the lead generation planning phase of your efforts together with the partner and your lead generation agency.
Ready for Joint Lead Generation
The details of the plan will depend on how much time the sales team at the partner has and who will be tasked with following up on leads after they enter the pipeline. The joint lead generation plan also needs to include processes for how the channel firm will support the partner once leads are generated.
For example, if the marketing bandwidth of a partner is limited, the number and type of tactics should also be limited. A simpler event can be run rather than an event with more moving parts. A straightforward lead generation tactic can be run rather than a more complex integrated program.
Of course, more robust efforts are more likely to generate greater results, but only if the partner can implement them. Our team has found success working with partners at building initial tactics which can then become part of more robust longer-term plans. Keep in mind that each hour of time invested from your partner has value!
Joint Lead Generation Efforts
Once the marketing plan is in place, the first lead generation step is to identify the market segment you and the partner would like to pursue for lead generation. Ideally, this should be a market segment in which you both already have expertise and that is identified in your joint business plan. Regardless, the segment should certainly be one that both firms are committed to marketing to on an ongoing basis.
Lead Generation Tactics
Next, determine the tactic or tactics that fit the time and investment available. We recommend deferring to what the partner or your marketing agency has expertise with in choosing tactics while being mindful of time and budget. We also lean toward tactics with greater consistency when doing joint lead generation to make positive outcomes more likely.
When budget allows, we like to integrate some combination of email, tele, or inside sales support, targeted digital ads, and organic social. In some cases, this is also supported through content creation. Events are fine for partners marketing to their install base or with extensive event experience and a warm database. We typically avoid content syndication unless we have a very strong ability to add filters.
While tactics for a joint lead generation effort should be able to stand alone, they should also be able to fit into an ongoing plan. For example, a jointly funded tactic may run to generate leads in a specific market segment. Those leads can then be included in a partner’s ongoing nurture efforts.
Assess the extent of the marketing development fund (MDF) budget and other resources you have available to contribute to the partner’s lead generation efforts. If the budget you can contribute is too small, it may not be worth the partner’s time for you to work together.
Focusing on the Right Type of Leads
To help your channel partners with lead generation, you need to understand the type of leads the partners want and how best to generate them. Many partner firms and partner sales reps don’t find value in following up on content syndication leads or other light marketing qualified leads (MQLs). This is usually because they do not have systems or bandwidth to work and nurture those leads until they mature.
At TSL Marketing, we have found that some programs, such as content syndication, which passes light MQLs to partners, can often do more harm than good. Generally, we see very low conversion rates of those MQLs to sales pipeline.
Sales reps prefer more advanced sales qualified leads (SQLs). TSL finds that passing a lead to a sales rep via a warm hand-off call can be very helpful to ensure your partner’s sales team can engage in meaningful sales conversations.
While a more robust integrated and annual marketing effort can generate SQLs using a variety of methods, carrying out a joint tactic with a partner can be accomplished using simpler approaches which can be completed within a quarter.
The joint lead generation plan shouldn’t end once a lead is generated and passed off. You should consider what happens after a lead is given to the partner by making sure to put a process in place to nurture leads.
One crucial and seemingly obvious step is that someone in your organization should be involved with the partner on each lead. Services and product sales cycles and steps are different, and both should be part of the sales focus. Most SQLs will be uncovered early in the sales cycle and should be entered into an ongoing nurture stream and tracked by sales.
More importantly, part of the value of a joint lead generation effort is in building relationships between the sales organizations at two partners. The joint efforts on a given opportunity can lead to relationships that carry over to discussions with install base customers.
Length of Engagement
When developing a plan for joint lead generation, decide how long you will need the effort to last to accomplish the partner’s goals. Depending on the complexity of the plan, your efforts can either last for one quarter or continue through the entire year.
Plans that call for straightforward lead generation approaches can be completed within a quarter. A joint lead generation plan that can be carried out within a quarter generally consists of paid digital ads, outsourced inside sales support, and email.
Annual plans allow for more integrated and robust lead generation. However, these longer plans require more funding.
Choosing and Managing Your Lead Generation Agency
As a marketing agency providing joint lead generation and joint marketing services, we have a biased perspective here! When providing an agency, vendors will want to have an agency that can both delight your partner and provide value to you.
This requires an agency who understands channel marketing and how to focus a program on the intersection of what is valuable to you and what is valuable to your channel partner. When partners choose an agency, the same is also true. Most vendors have expectations in return for providing funding, and when those expectations are met, vendors are often willing to provide continued funding.
Winning at Joint Lead Generation
With over 20 years of experience in B2B technology marketing, TSL understands what it takes to create a winning joint lead generation strategy. We provide services for both Channel Marketing and B2B Lead Generation.
We can help your channel firm work together with partners to generate and nurture leads for a healthier pipeline and better chances of converting potential customers into leads.
Want to learn more about how to create a plan for joint lead generation? Find out by checking out TSL Fast Start Lead Generation.