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Channel Matters Blog > March 2015 > Assigning Leads: Just Call It Evenly!

Assigning Leads: Just Call It Evenly!

by Rich Blakeman
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fairness.jpgSports fans may complain about referees from time to time — OK, pretty much all the time — but they don't usually get that upset unless the refereeing is one-sided. Of course, I have to make a quick exception for the fans of what we here in the states call soccer. It can't be easy being a ref in that sport! But even at a soccer match, so long as the refs call the game evenly, we can slough off some pretty lousy calls — eventually.
That's because, as sports fans, we're not looking for perfection. We simply want fairness and consistency. Sports are all games and from our earliest moments on the playground, we learn that games are supposed to be fair. When we sense they aren't, we pick up our ball and go home.
You're Cherry-Picking!
I can't think of anything that channel partners complain about more than leads. We're not getting enough. I should have gotten that lead because it's in my industry. You're cherry-picking the really good opportunities for yourself.
More than one channel leader has asked me what they can do to get their partners to stop complaining about leadsMy short answer is probably nothing. That's because some partners will always complain about leads. It's part of the game. Like the player who pretends he didn't commit a foul to see if he can get away with it, some channel partners complain to see if they can increase their share of the pie. They like the competition, even when it's between channels. They simply want fairness and consistency.
So do you ignore their complaints? Only at your own peril! When channel partners complain about your lead distribution, they're doing more than just trying to position themselves strategically. Some are telling you how they think you're distributing leads. It doesn't matter whether their perception is accurate or not. As they say, perception is reality.
Instead, your channel managers need to be able to articulate clearly how leads are assigned. If they can show that leads are assigned based on a set of clearly defined criteria, they'll have addressed the issue of fairness and consistency. In some cases, they may even give partner development a boost by showing the partner what they need to do to get a bigger slice of the pie.
Of course, mistakes do happen. A lead gets assigned to the wrong partner who starts to work it before you can correct the error. An over-zealous salesperson decides to take an opportunity for himself. The partner has a special focus on an industry that didn't come through in your joint partner planning. Like the sports fan after a bad call, the channel partner is able to slough off the mistake because you've built credibility by having a fair, consistent plan for lead assignment.
Lead assignment needs to be about consistency and fairness. Have a plan and make sure your channel managers can clearly articulate it to their partners. If they can't, and your channel partners start to sense that the game isn't being called fairly, they'll pick up their ball and go home — or go play in a competitor's field.

Last modified on 3/2/2015 3:02:44 PM
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