The name of the game in indirect sales channel management is “integration.” Channel managers for manufacturers and OEMs are always looking for ways to integrate their numerous tasks of managing their indirect sales channel partners into one system. Marketing products and services through a network of indirect sales partners (dealers, resellers, VARs) is most effective when a company fully engages its channel partners with its products and way of doing business. When channel partners are engaged, it means they are supported by the manufacturer whose products they sell, and understand those products and best practices for selling them.
Channel managers think in terms of “mindshare,” an expression referring to the amount of attention a channel partner is willing to dedicate to a particular brand. Indirect sales partners usually sell or service multiple brands, often competing brands. They are naturally more likely to dedicate greater mindshare to those brands that support their selling efforts, and are easy to do business with. Securing increased mindshare through dealer engagement is one of the dominating indirect sales trends.
To Achieve Optimal Mindshare, The Channel Manager Must:
- Recruit new channel partners and get them up to speed quickly.
- Nurture relationships with existing channel partners, training them on new products and processes.
- Monitor the performance of indirect sales partners, rewarding the best ones and providing incentives for the under-performing ones to improve.
- Communicate pertinent information throughout the indirect sales channel as well as to individual partners and targeted groups of channel partners.
PRM Systems: An Indirect Sales Trend Worth Following
The concept of channel management and its benefits – increased sales through the channel and business growth – are not new. But companies always want to make the most out of their channel managers’ time and resources by integrating their channel management best practices into a single system. The solution they’re finding is partner relationship management (PRM). In a general sense, partner relationship management is the framework that pulls together all the disparate tasks required to support a company’s relationships with its channel partners. It can be looked at as both a business philosophy and a technology solution.
The "Four Core" Elements of Indirect Sales Channel Management
A PRM system should facilitate collaboration between a company and its indirect sales channel partners, allowing the partners to interact with each other, share best practices, and include the ability to interface with the end customer.
Getting the right message to the right person at the appropriate time, without overwhelming them, is crucial.
Training and Certification
Being able to deploy, track, and report on training and certifications at the dealer level saves a company time and resources. Channel partner training and certification programs should be scalable to the global level, while still being centrally managed.
Performance management is the overall process of measurement and data-driven decision making concerning the indirect sales channel.
The above are the four "core" elements of indirect sales channel management that have persisted through the past couple of years.