Blocking the Partner Lead “Black Hole”

Previously posted at Porter Consulting (

Many of our clients comment that sales reps at their channel partners do not consistently jump on the high value leads that campaigns deliver to them. Many leads seem to fall into a “black hole” of inaction. Here are some key things you need to lock down before the campaign starts in order to eliminate those black holes.

Guiding Sales Rep Actions

Most of us see the world through our own eyes. Sometimes we really need to step back and see the world differently — through your partner sales rep. Ask yourself: Why will a sales rep spend time on my lead rather than what they are currently doing, especially if they are reasonably successful?

Understanding how to generate action is critical to this question. The answer is typically behavioral, rather than financial. Financial incentives are usually necessary but not sufficient. Let’s take a look at the big picture.

CLG ( has a very nice model for assessing the readiness of an individual to make a change in behavior. While it was designed for large scale enterprise problems, it can be used nicely in the scaled down world of product, partners, and you. The model is called DCOM®:

· Direction

· Competence

· Opportunity

· Motivation

Applying DCOM to Your Leads

From a channel sales point of view, evaluate your sales motion at the partner or campaign level:

Applying DCOM to Channel Sales

1. Take a careful look at the chain of commitments from you to the rep. Make sure your business is important to everyone in the chain. When starting a campaign, take the time to cover everything, and don’t start until you do. Otherwise it may fall flat, without a second chance.

2. Engage sales management to support the program. Make sure they see your program as vital to their own interests.

3. Make sure the sales tools help the reps engage with customers easily and paint a simple picture of who to talk to and what to look for.

4. Tie your opportunity to something the rep is already comfortable with. There is an old saying, yard by yard is hard, inch by inch is a cinch.

5. Take the time to give the sales team the whole story from your side and let them hear it from their sales management as well.

Changing the Rules

You spend a lot for good enterprise or B2B leads — often $500 to $1000 each. Make sure they stay out of the black hole by making sure there is no black hole to fall into in the first place.