While solution providers aren't exactly enamored with IT vendors' online partner locator systems, they also have fairly low opinions of vendor efforts overall to provide them with sales leads, according to a CRN survey of nearly 100 solution providers.
When asked how important partner locator systems are for their business, 39 percent said "not important at all" while 32 percent described them as "somewhat important" and 29 percent as "very important." Eighty percent of the survey respondents said less than 10 percent of their sales are generated through partner locators.
Nearly 71 percent of survey participants said leads provided by partner locators are of lower quality than leads they generate themselves. Another 21 percent rated partner locator-generated leads about the same quality as those developed in-house, and only 8 percent judged partner locator leads to be of higher quality.
More than 38 percent of the respondents rated sales leads from vendor websites and partner locator systems "inconsistent (some good, some bad)," while 27 percent described such leads as "very weak." Only 6 percent said such leads are "easy to close."
Meanwhile, 14 percent said partner locator leads are "strong, but require some work" and 15 percent said they "tend to be weaker than leads from other sources."
Asked to identify which vendors had the most effective partner locators, readers gave Cisco the most thumbs-up, followed by Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and IBM.
The survey also asked solution providers about vendors' programs to develop sales leads and found they don't have very high opinions about those efforts.
A whopping 81 percent don't think vendors do a good job of vetting or qualifying leads before passing them along to partners. A majority (57 percent) said leads had become cold because vendors were too slow in passing them along, while 54 percent cited missing or incorrect data about products or services the customer requested.
Other problems cited by respondents were leads given to multiple partners and creating conflict (38 percent) and leads lacking correct contact information (36 percent). Some said they even received leads for technologies or services they don't sell.
When asked to identify the best source for high-quality sales leads, a majority of survey respondents (55 percent) cited customer referrals while another 28 percent pointed to leads from the solution provider's own sales force. Only a handful of solution providers cited other sources (vendors, other VARs, marketing and advertising) as good sources for sales leads.
PUBLISHED APRIL 1, 2013