Managing a sales force—whether it is your company’s own team or the members of your dealer network—requires a constant eye on the numbers. You wish you could be watching over the shoulders of every salesperson at once, but the truth is, most of the tasks required for managing sales—especially in the indirect channel—must be done from afar.
That’s why good data is so critical to increasing channel sales. More often than not, it’s all you have to go on. How, for example, can you decide where to deploy market development funds (MDFs) without insight into the sales performance of your channel partners? How do you know which of your dealer partners’ employees could benefit from additional training on your products and services? Is there a helpful or motivational message you want to send your underperforming channel partners and a praising one you want to send your sales superstars? Do you have a tool to segment channel communication according to your partners’ roles and performance?
All the Channel Sales Data You Need in One Place
Modern channel management tools take the guesswork out of increasing sales. Companies that rely on indirect sales are turning to web-based partner relationship management (PRM) systems to integrate their channel management practices into a single framework. With such a system in place, everything an indirect sales partner needs from a manufacturer (communication, marketing support, online training and certification, and so on) comes through a single, customized portal. The converse is also true: everything a manufacturer needs to know about is dealers’ performance is available from a single source. This is an efficient and powerful way to measure channel sales and make smart decisions to improve sales based on good data.
The useful metrics generated by a partner relationship management system can also be used to define sales territories. PRM best practices call for account ownership: setting clear rules for territories and accounts so partner sales forces (and the direct force) avoid fighting over the same set of customers. The PRM portal can then be used as a centralized system to manage the flow of leads from lead generation to sales success so partners aren’t competing against each other. The next series of articles on this blog (click here to follow) will focus on managing and avoiding channel conflict, a very important element of achieving indirect sales success.