By Barton Goldenberg
A second key component of channel optimization is optimizing each selected channel – see diagram above – through the use of integrated processes and technology. (The first key component is achieving a balance between fulfilling each customer’s desired channel preferences versus achieving the organization’s desire to secure the lowest cost-to-serve channel option for each customer.)
I recently performed primary research on 10 best-in-class global organizations that have successfully integrated distribution channels. The majority of these companies have focused on putting into place business processes supported by Social CRM technology in sales pipeline/opportunity management, partner relationship management, marketing initiatives, and/or Social Media community building. Each company had meaningful challenges when putting into place the right business processes and then configuring their Social CRM software to drive efficiency into these processes. Yet those companies that have put the right processes and technology into place with their distributors are running away from the pack.
Needless to say, it is challenging to reach an agreement on common core business processes with channel partners, who are all typically independent organizations. Take the sales pipeline management process as an example. Almost all organizations already have some kind of sales pipeline management in place, so if the manufacturer asks distribution channel partners to all use the same sales pipeline management process, one or more of the organizations likely will either have to modify their own sales pipeline process or they will have to enter sales pipeline information twice – once into their own sales pipeline system and a second time into the common sales pipeline management system.
While both options present challenges, my research with the best-in-class organizations overwhelmingly confirms that once a core business processes like sales pipeline management has been aligned with distribution channel partners, and technology has been put into place to drive efficiency into the core business process, there are tremendous benefits that get realized by all distribution channel partners. These benefits result from the speedier flow of information between channel partners resulting in, for example, an ability to pass sales leads more efficiently, easily track sales leads, look into inventory levels in real time, easily exchange needed information and reports, and overall be in a better position to better service channel partners because ‘everyone is on the same page’.
In my next blog post, I will discuss a broader summary of channel optimization challenges.
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Barton Goldenberg, is the founder and president of ISM Inc., customer-centric strategists/implementers serving best-in-class organizations globally. As a CRM leader for 30 years, he was among the first three inductees in the CRM Hall of Fame. Recognized as a leading “customer-focused” author, his latest book, The Definitive Guide to Social CRM, is hailed as the roadmap for Social CRM success. Barton is a popular speaker on “maximizing customer relationships to gain market insights, customers and profits”. He is a long-term columnist for CRM Magazine and speaker for CRMevolution and frequently quoted in the media.