Channel conflict can mean a number of different things, but the basic definition is fairly self-explanatory. It generally refers to the conflict that arises from your channel partners competing against each other for the same business. All too often this leads to each partner drastically lowering their prices to compete with one another, which leads to price deterioration and ends up hurting your bottom line.
Sometimes, the conflict is simply between one channel partner and your direct sales team. Similar to the above example, this often happens when there is no formal sales registration process and little insight into the opportunities your indirect partners are pursuing.
We have compiled some of the best free ways to learn about managing channel conflict from our own experiences and those of our customers.
1. Partner Relationship Management Software
PRM software is a great option for managing your partners and reducing opportunities for channel conflict . While it’s not actually free, many manufacturers already have PRM software and let it go underutilized. For those that don’t already have a software solution in place, there are editions available for as little as $500 per month. Lead management capabilities supported by PRM allow you to implement a lead registration and approval process that gives you the insight you need to keep your partners from competing against each other and allows you to help them close more business. Furthermore, the reporting capabilities for your sales pipeline can help you recognize channel conflict before it exists. Most PRM software platforms also come with user-friendly tutorials that may teach you a thing or two you didn’t already know.
To get the most from your PRM software, make sure you are utilizing the lead management functionality available to diagnose channel conflicts before they arise.
2. Speak to Your Partners
You may find that another good way to reduce channel conflict is by speaking with your partners more often. Who better to learn from when it comes to partner management than your actual partners?
Every company is unique and the same goes for their indirect channel. As such, speaking directly with your channel partners can give you the valuable feedback you need to prevent channel conflict and better help your partners service your customer base.
By talking with your partners about how they’ve handled conflicts in the past, you’ll more than likely come across a solution that works well for your company.
3. Resources Online
The digital era has made many things easier, but one of the major areas has to be how easy it is to get your hands on valuable information for free. What could once only be found in pricey subscriptions to industry publications can now be found online for no cost at all. Fortunately, this also covers educating yourself on channel conflict resolution. As it relates to speaking to your channel partners that we spoke of earlier, you can consider a free online survey tool to solicit feedback from all of your partners at once and use that information to benchmark future survey requests.
Our Most Popular Post: What is Channel Conflict? How Can I Avoid It?
Don’t listen to just anyone though. It’s essential that you only get your information from valid authorities in the industry. Take an active role in your social media outlets like Twitter and LinkedIn and listen to what your peers have to say. The good news is that this doesn’t have to mean exhaustive research on your part because there are many reputable companies that actively publish resources on their blog and website. You can read this white paper from LogicBay for example. Resources like this are readily available and it won’t cost your company a dime to benefit from their years of experience in this field.
Channel conflict is not something you can sweep under the rug. The moment you notice it’s happening, you must take action to resolve it. But it can’t end with a reactive strategy. Take the necessary steps to create the internal processes that will help eliminate conflict before it starts and communicate these strategies with your partners. With the above methods of learning about partner management, you can quickly become an expert in this field without spending any money in the process.