The pandemic hit manufacturers hard and their channel partners just as painful. Luckily the market didn’t just collapse, but the impacts of the disruption are still being felt and dealt with by everyone. Remote working became much more prevalent, forecasting got harder and more important, programs got rescheduled, delayed, and modified to fit the new business paradigm, and the supply chain had major long-lasting disruptions that are going to continue for a long time.
Manufacturers and large think the market will return more or less to normal in 2021 but the Channel Partnership relationship needs serious attention if you are going to try to make it work better for you in this new environment. Many suppliers have already started to reevaluate how they work with their Channel Partners and to find new ways to help them through the change to their advantage.
Suppliers historically focused on what new products they needed or what markets were going to grow that they could be successful in. The second ( or maybe first ) priority was driving cost to maximize the bottom line and remain competitive in the markets they supplied. Today, especially as everyone recovers from the pandemic, the focus has shifted to optimizing the customer experience and making sure every interaction is a high-quality interaction that helps drive them to become a customer.
A significant part of this customer experience focus involves making sure your channel partners can provide just as high-quality a customer experience as if they went directly to you to find information. With this in mind, suppliers and Channel Partners need to redefine their relationships to position themselves for the future.
The shift to a more customer-centric focus and away from a product-centric focus is driving suppliers to invest in technologies that help them understand their customers’ needs and focus their attention on getting those needs fulfilled. Those technologies have to work across the supplier – Channel partner barrier to provide a consistent set of information that both parties can depend on to drive their actions. Over ¾ of manufacturers report that having a single source of data about customers and the business is one of the most critical components of driving a customer-centric business strategy.
Technologies that support this single source of data are today’s advanced business management solutions such as NEHANET’s CRM solution. These comprehensive customer information platforms can help you break down the barriers and silos that have driven the historical customer relationship and drive teams to focus on the entire customer experience no matter how they interact with your entire sales organization.
Information about orders status, leads, activities, pricing, quotes, and customer service activities can all be captured, presented to the overall team, and acted upon with full coordination and with the best information all the time, on time. By sharing this data with your internal sales team and with your channel partners you can always present your best answers and information every time.
Building co-marketing programs and co-selling activities while avoiding competitive conflicts is essential to make this work and by using a common database, you can keep the focus on building the business and capturing operational efficiencies instead of who will get the credit and compensation for success.
Those who are ready for the future, make it easier for their channel partners to do business with them and for them and see the value everyone brings to the process. The leaders are paying attention to some of the following:
Making it easier to do business together with common data, easily accessible documentation, transparent priorities and action planning, and a common set of business goals.
Incentives that drive the results you need and the behaviors you expect.
Addition of services as part of the business offering to drive a tighter relationship with customers and channel partners. These services may be data management or product fulfillment programs that make it easier for your customers to work with you.
The pandemic opened the door to driving a better customer engagement process by working with your channel partners to make everyone’s life better. If you need help improving your channel partner relationship or making the customer experience better, we would be happy to show you how the NEHANET advanced Customer Relationship Business model works and how it can work in your business.