Channel Sales Models: Don’t Think Portal, Think Relationship

May 8, 2014 Tom Saracene

channel sales

Every company is either focusing on their customers or losing their customers. In the traditional model of customer-vendor relationships, this relationship is straightforward. A business offers products to a customer at a price that results in a transaction.  Keeping a customer happy is a matter of making good on the promise made at the transaction, and a mutually beneficial relationship is built. But of course, this simple customer-vendor model is much more complicated in reality.  Selling products to customers through alternative channels started as a way to expand sales, but has evolved over time to be a matter of necessity and survival. Learning to navigate Channel Management has become a key differentiator for businesses, especially in an era that works at the speed of the internet.

Channel Management or Partner Reseller Management (PRM), however,  is not a technology question, but a business question.  The nature of your product, and the most effective way to take it to market, drives firms to the right mix of channel partners (if any at all).  After the channel strategy is established, the type of partner and the role they play between a vendor and its customers will dictate what communication and data needs exist between that vendor and the partner.  Further, while it is easy for a vendor to look at a partner as being under its control, we must remember that a partner  is an independent business with data, metrics, and a management style all it’s own.  The challenge is to find the right partner that aligns with your needs, and then to recognize what your role is in supporting the relationship you have with that partner and your customers.  Armed with that information you can set out to put the right CRM and/or Portal in place to meet that need.

In our white paper, “CRM’s Role in Channel Sales Models,”  we look at the different types of channel partner relationships and discuss the business dynamics at play in each.  More and more channel partners are supporting their vendors with enhanced consultative and technical sales capabilities, product lifecycle management, marketing, and even account management services. These activities put channel partners in a position to know more about the customers than the vendors do, and drive the need for more information about the vendors and their products.  This white paper walks through the decisions firms face in Channel Management, gives some clear ideas for creating technology to support these relationships, and includes a short real-life example of the questions a complicated firm faced.

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