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Streamlining Channel Communication: A Case Study - Part One

Posted by Seth Jacobsen on 10/22/15 8:00 AM
Original Equipment Manufacturers as well as the employees that they're supporting often have different opinions of their relationship. In channel communications, timeliness and consistency are necessary for creating a solid business relationship; but if it’s not there, friction and resentment may erupt.

Partner relationship management (PRM)
can bridge the gap between partners and manufacturers, allowing for a seamless flow of information between the OEM and the channel partner community. This case study will exemplify this streamline.

Streamlining Channel Communication: A Case Study - Part One

The Case

A manufacturer had received complaints from its dealers that they were receiving too many repetitive broadcast communications. To the manufacturers, though, it seemed that their dealer communications were frequently ignored. Obviously, there was channel conflict that a corporate partner relationship management system could have aided. To assess the communication gaps in this real client scenario, data was gathered in three ways: a communications audit, internal interviews, and dealer interviews.

SEE ALSO: Communication: A Critical Element For Channel Partner Engagement

The Communications Audit

Respondents from marketing, sales, leasing, service, dealer development, and inventory departments filled out questionnaires on the type, frequency, medium, objective, and target audiences of broadcast communications. The communications audit found that dealers received over 500 broadcast emails and newsletters per year per brand, with several brands of the manufacturer's through its dealer network. Over 100 web meeting sessions were held per year per brand. The majority of communications did not adhere to a schedule, even though they could have been scheduled.

Internal Interviews

Twenty internal manufacturer department managers and representatives were interviewed about validating and amplifying the data from the dealer communications audit. These interviews uncovered department-specific communication challenges and roadblocks, detailed dealer feedback about department-specific or general communications, and gathered ideas and recommendations to improve communications to the channel.

The interviews revealed that departments created and distributed dealer communications according to their own needs and business drivers, and not the dealers'. They were not aware of the amount of communications sent to the dealer channel. There was also no process for coordinating broadcast communications or web meetings across departments. A number of interviewees provided helpful recommendations regarding a broadcast email digest with a fixed schedule and publishing process, which was widely supported.

SEE ALSO: The 2 Most Common Sources of Conflict in the Sales Channel

Dealer Interviews

Dealer principals, managers, and front-line staff were interviewed. These interviews focused on challenges and frustrations experienced in receiving broadcast communications, gathering data on how the dealership captured and circulated information, and collecting ideas and recommendations to improve communications to the channel.

The dealers had plenty to say. In Part Two of this Case Study, read about their responses – and the solution to their communications problems -  with robust, but very easy to implement, partner relationship management (PRM) technology.

Download CMO 2015 Guide to Managing Sales Channels Partners

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