Businesses today use a gamut of channels to sell their products & services – direct, indirect (partner-driven), online & offline (brick & mortar). As a result, maintaining the quality and consistency of the experience across these sales channels becomes quite challenging for them. There’s a tremendous pressure on the businesses to keep a tab on their selling costs and as a result, businesses are looking out for new lower-cost channels and trying to reduce their sales and associated administrative cost through optimization & automation.
Having worked in IT for more than 16 years, I got the opportunity to help businesses across diverse industry verticals in their CRM journey. Today, I am sharing my views on some of the key challenges in channel management being faced by businesses in managing their Sales Channel.
Channel management for businesses has always been a tricky task. Businesses today use a gamut of channels to sell their products & services – direct, indirect (partner-driven), online & offline (brick & mortar). Many businesses, especially in the manufacturing, building & material industry leverage the channel partners such as dealers, distributors, retailers who have a tremendous influence on the customer’s purchase decisions to drive sales. In many cases, the relationship with the end customer is owned by these channel partners and they become the trusted advisors to the customers. Hence it becomes very important for the businesses to effectively manage these relationships and collaboratively work with the channel partners throughout the lifecycle. Thus, the requirement for an efficient solution for Channel Management becomes important.
As there’s a tremendous pressure on the businesses to keep a tab on their selling costs so it becomes important for them to identify and segment their channel partners & optimally deploy their limited resources with the aim to maximize revenue and reduce the cost of sales. Businesses also need to empower their Sales team with real-time insights for them to make the best out of their engagements with the partners.
I would like to highlight some key challenges in channel management being faced by businesses in achieving the same:
• Disparate systems working in silos – ERP, homegrown solutions, CRM, Excel, e-mails, manual intervention, etc.
• Lack of user-friendly mobility solutions for the sales team to efficiently manage partner engagements
Lack of a unified platform hampers organizations from getting the unified view of the business and actionable insights for them to make informed decisions. As a result, they are unable to effectively segment and identify the partners to focus on – partners at risk, newbies who need more handholding, exclusive / premium partners, top performers and the laggards who need to be pushed, ones with collection issues and so on and so forth.
Timeliness and accuracy of information flow play an important role so businesses also need to empower their sales team to efficiently manage their day to day operations with ease and spend the majority of their time on selling, nurturing partner relationships rather than on the administrative tasks.
Sales team needs to have real-time access to the critical information such as a holistic view of the partners, proactive alerts and notifications about upcoming meetings, schemes, activities, updates on orders, new product launches, issues & escalations for them to make the best out of partner engagements and thus manage their expectations better.
Field sales being closest to the channel partners need to be enabled to provide insights on emerging market trends, partner relationship health, competitor intelligence for the businesses to gauge the overall sentiment/pulse of the market and strategize accordingly.
Likewise, it is very important for Channel partners to have 24 X 7 real-time access to up to date, consistent and accurate information & a means for them to collaboratively engage with the businesses for better goal alignment.
This calls for the businesses to engage with a Channel Management Service Provider who can help them in addressing the challenges in channel management and better manage the channel sales ecosystem – with a Channel Management solution.
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