The relationship a manufacturer has with its channel partners is critical to its bottom line. Manufacturers today often rely on indirect sales channels and external distribution networks, and the success of their business is dependent on these relationships. Without the proper care, these channel partnerships can turn sour, adversely impacting sales, profits, and even the reputation of a manufacturer. Channel managers at the enterprise are the ones responsible for this vital task.
Is your company getting the most sell-through possible from the channel partnerships currently in place? Are there opportunities to improve the relationships you have with channel partners, and therefore increase revenue through more effectively supporting the channel sales? A channel management strategy can help you answer both these questions.
The key to successful channel management is engagement. Think about this as the mindshare – or awareness – you have among the members of your channel partner network. How engaged or aligned are your channel partners with your brand? This is an important metric to consider, because engagement is a predictor of future financial performance. A successful channel management program is one that will maximize channel partner engagement. The higher the quality of engagement, the easier it is for the people who work within your re-seller network to do their job of selling and servicing your products every day.
How can you accomplish high quality engagement through successful channel management?
For maximum partner engagement, a channel management program will:
- Recruit and retain the right channel partners.
- Onboard and educate channel partners quickly and efficiently.
- Support channel partners with sales leads, marketing collateral, marketing strategies, etc.
- Monitor and manage to maximize the relationship.
- Deploy a system that allows for lead management and pipeline visibility.
Instead of addressing each of these items separately, best practices are to unify them within the framework of a partner relationship management strategy. Partner Relationship Management (PRM) is a business term that is used to describe the methodology and strategies for improving relationships between companies and their channel partners.
A key element of PRM strategies is to manage partner relationships using a PRM system, a set of tools that allows a manufacturer to better organize and manage its channel relationships. A PRM system can be looked at as both a technology solution and a business philosophy. Using a PRM system as part of its strategy, a company can meet the six characteristics of a successful channel management program listed above.