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3 Ways to Improve Your Channel Business

October 6, 2020

Jim Holland, Sr. Product Marketing Manager

Imagine a place where channel partners flourish, rivers of revenue flow and there is no conflict with your sales and partner network. Is it possible? 

Possibly. However, if there are complex channels, evolving partners, and the continuous need to grow revenue from partners, there will always be areas for improvement. How can you improve the way you manage channel performance?

Three Ways to Improve Channel Performance

Build Trust 

Persuading channel partners to provide POS and inventory data comes down to a question of trust. Partners must be convinced that providing this data to the vendor is in their best interest. At least, they must believe that doing so will not be detrimental to them. Trust issues vary by partner, but some overriding concerns include vendor sales reps poaching deals from channel partners, sensitive data falling into the wrong hands, and loss of control over the information provided. Unfortunately, these concerns are often based on experience. 

In the research brief, Improving Visibility in the ChannelForrester shares, “Partners will refuse to share account-level information if they feel their business is threatened by a supplier’s direct sales force or another channel partner. Organizations that fail to create a level playing field with partners concerning channel deals will not only be hurt by lack of visibility; it also can negatively impact future recruitment efforts or potential alliances.” 

The foundation of a good channel relationship starts with visibility into information that is needed to uncover market opportunities and risks. This may come through agreeing to share what information is required, detailing what will be shared and how, and creating partner agreements that ensure information is maintained and secured. By creating visibility into the data, the power of trust will shine through and take the partnership to the next level. 

Once you have built trust and partnership visibility, you will need to align your channel processes through automation  

Channel Automation 

“Brands that provide an enhanced partner experience grow faster than their peers, are more profitable and drive higher customer satisfaction and retention downstream. Smart channel professionals are looking at data across the partner journey to differentiate themselves from the competition and accelerate faster in the market,” shares Jay McBain, Principal Analyst, Channel Partnerships & Alliances in his post, Channel Data is a Competitive Differentiator. 

Gathering accurate, consistent, and granular point-of-sale (POS), inventory, claims, and SISO data from the channel is a challenge for even the best of companies. Automation supported by Channel Data Management (CDM) has gained acceptance to grow business in multi-tier distribution organizations. 

McBain continues, “Channel organizations must get into a cycle of automate, innovate and repeat, using a better partner experience as the true north. The systemic use of data to understand, test, and optimize will drive the efficiency gains that the organization needs to break out as a competitive differentiator.”  

By combining trust and automation, you are on your way to further protecting and gaining the market share you’re on the hook for, but to tie it all together, there needs to be a general focus on bettering the partner management process.  

Partner Management 

To focus on improving partner engagement companies must overcome a few common hurdles to improve their business.  One focuses on automation and the other on communications. High-tech companies have recognized that channel operations are essential to the overall partner success. 

 With partner management and engagement, a top priority, companies need to evaluate their current channel operations and look for new or modern approaches to automating partner on-boarding as well as daily partner management. By streamlining both operations and communications between your organization and your partners,’ both parties are enabled to focus on selling and revenue related activities.  

Leading organizations have turned away from manual and outdated processes and have adopted systems that automate partner enablement. – Modern channel solutions facilitate a more collaborative sales process and improve program utilization; therefore, help you keep and gain market share. 

Bringing automation to every part of the channel management process is the key to success. In fact, it can increase channel sales by as much as 10% by improving visibility and accuracy in channel data, pricing, quoting, contracts, and incentives. 

At the end of the day, how you manage channel performance could mean the difference between thriving and failing. To gain a competitive edge, begin your channel transformation today. Learn more about Model N channel solutions here. Watch the 30-minute on-demand webinar, “Automate your Channel or Give Up Market Share,” to discover how through automation, you can increase your channel sales. 

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