Utilizing Channel Automation
Are you in email hell when it comes to managing channel partners? Are you wondering why you have 2000+ emails in your inbox? How can you avoid this email hell and focus on running successful channel programs?
If you’re responsible for running channel programs you know the difficulty in securing corporate support, especially in resources and funding for your programs. Commonly, vendors take systems used by their direct sales force and try to modify them to meet channel requirements. Or use manual systems to complete basic functions. Spreadsheets are exported from CRM systems like SalesForce or NetSuite, and manually updated to calculate commissions or manage deals registered by partners.
The person managing partners is left to deal with the issues created by these manual processes and gets flooded with a backlog of emails. On top of trying to stay ahead of this ever-increasing avalanche, they must be proactive in adding new partners, launching promotions and incentive programs, which can take months to launch. This manual intervention combined with the increasing resources required to take new promotions to market means only a quarterly program consisting of a few products can be managed.
After all of this, you only really discover if programs are working after the monthly or quarterly reports. When management asks “what is the real ROI of running a promotion or incentive program?”, most channel managers can only answer after the program has finished, by which time feedback is too late and there is no way of adjusting the program based on real-time results.
What does this lack of channel automation mean and why should you care?
You should care because by not utilizing channel automation, your company is losing competitiveness as you commit valuable resources to perform mundane manual processes. This lack of automation means program results cannot be interfaced with your PRM/CRM. Thereby becoming a weekly or monthly report that has little value after the fact. All the while Management is asking:
- Why isn’t channel revenue increasing?
- How come you not adding more channel partners?
- Why can you not be more strategic with partners?
- Why is market share being lost to vendors that are more proactive with resellers?
You provide the feedback necessary to make additional investments in the channel, but what does this really mean? For most vendors, it should mean channel automation – automating manual processes to gain efficiencies and focus on more strategic tasks. Calculate the ROI of transitioning from manual to automated processes not only in reduced hours spent on manual tasks but by managing partners in real-time and the results from being proactive.
The benefits of moving away from manual processes when running channel programs include:
- Real-time feedback on program results. If you can calculate the ROI of a program, you can make intelligent decisions on where to invest
- Less IT staffing and hardware expenditure
- Creates channel partner awareness that you are responsive to their input and what they need to be successful
- Use of technology to identify new eligible partners
- Calculating rules and program definitions included
- Calculating the sales math for commissions, discounts, etc.
- Maintaining lists of partners, products, geographies, vertical markets and customers
- Employing a built-in audit trail to satisfy regulatory requirements
- Integration with other front-end/back-end systems such as SalesForce
The top Management processes that lend themselves to Channel Automation include:
Automating these channel processes allows you to add new partners while Rapidly deploying programs with precision targeting and have real-time visibility into ROI. Now doesn’t that sound like a nicer place to be, than in “email hell“.