How Technology Is Killing Your Sales Channel

By Seth Jacobsen Posted on 3/30/16 3:30 PM

Are you at a point where your operations are suffocating under the weight of all your software systems?

It's a relatively common problem these days, especially among companies who've been continually trying to stay on top of modern technology for the last ten or twenty years. For the longest time, B2B software was very much in a "wild west" state of affairs. There were few standards, and incompatibilities were rife. In many cases, businesses ended up building their own point solutions that worked for a single internal need, but weren't compatible with other homegrown solutions or the needs of their business partners.

This is a major problem when it comes time to collaborating with independent businesses and organizations who are part of your larger channel partner ecosystem. If a group hasn't planned ahead for inter-compatibility with other systems, they could be facing significant hurdles for channel sales communications and collaboration, which endangers the bottom line of all parties involved.

Basically, those ad-hoc systems built up over the years could easily be weighing you down, making your company harder to do business with than the competition.

process from manufacturer to national account

 

Systems Integration To Promote Successful Channel Sales

Today, for a company with a diverse partner ecosystem to succeed, they need software tools capable of working with the entire ecosystem. Systems integration is key, and this isn't simply a matter of personal convenience. A partner system today needs to be flexible and responsive, able to respond quickly to shifts in the marketplace or the global socio-economic environment.

Some of the must-haves include:

  • A database system that allows access from multiple users at multiple locations.
  • Standardized document and other media formats which everyone involved can read and write.
  • A single unified communications system which all channel partners have access to.
  • A cloud-based storage system that gives universal permissions-based access to whatever materials a partner needs.
  • Consistent statistics and metrics tracking which can be viewed by partners, to give them a better 'big picture' overview of the ecosystem.
  • Unified training systems that ensure everyone is on the same page, when it comes to proper behavior and promotion of your product/service.

 

READ MORE: PRM or CRM - The Right Choice for the Indirect Sales Channel

 

Being able to provide such a software system would make any business far easier to work with. Beyond making life simpler for your own channel manager, it also makes life easier for every partner in the ecosystem.

And this is exactly what Partner Relationship Management software sets out to provide: A single unified source for everything a partner needs to be successful. PRM is mostly or entirely cloud-hosted, with permissions-based access, and standardizes all functions where cross-talk and collaboration are vital. It truly creates a one-stop resource for channel partners.

Why Is This Important?

There’s nothing more frustrating to sales partners than having to have their sales reps log in and out of multiple systems to do their job. This is quite common in the sales channel. Systems are rolled out over time all with good intentions of solving a specific problem at the time. Over time, these system proliferate. Before you know it, a sales rep has to log in and out of multiple systems do register a lead, look up product information and pricing, find collateral for a customer, get questions answered, register a sale, etc. If the channel partner represents several brands (including your competition which is often the case), this challenge gets exponentially worse for the sales rep. 

In the real world sales reps will stick to selling the product line that’s easiest to sell. Part of making it easy is the system environment that’s provided to support the sales rep. Leading manufacturers provide a single sign-on environment through partner portal technology (PRM) such that the sales rep merely needs to log into the portal once, get his/her credentials validated, then – through the portal interface – seamlessly access all of the other systems he/she needs to access to get the job done.

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prm, PRM v. CRM

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