What is sales channel management and marketing strategy?


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The main goal of a sales team is, of course, sales. It can be simple for small organizations with a single, clear sales channel. However, complex businesses with many sales channels can benefit from a more inclusive approach. A successful multichannel strategy involves, among others, the marketing, distribution and finance teams. He may also spend as much time managing direct and indirect sales teams. This integrated approach can increase profits, but it can also increase management challenges. To achieve the ultimate goal of increasing sales, managers must have a solid understanding of sales channel marketing and its many components.

Responsibilities of sales channel marketing

As noted above, a myopic focus on sales may not lead to more sales, especially in a large-scale, interconnected sales strategy. An effective strategy identifies the best use of marketing and sales resources to increase collaboration and minimize conflict. To achieve these general objectives, a sales channel management The strategy must align the efforts of internal and external teams.

The roles of marketing, sales and distribution

So what is channel marketing? What role does it play in a sales channel strategy? A channel marketing strategy supports a sales team by building awareness of a product and helping to prepare a potential customer to interact with a member of the sales team.

A channel marketing strategy can help prospects simply know that a product exists. For well-known products, it can continue to keep a brand in mind or reaffirm its main differentiators. During long sales cycles, a marketing team can deliver a continuous set of messages to potential customers to help prospects “warm up” to the sales team.

Historically, the distinction between the marketing and sales departments – the first responsible for leads, the second for sales – has led to conflict. When profits plummet, marketers tend to pretend that sales staff fail to close quality leads. On the other hand, members of the sales team tend to say that leads are of poor quality.

This potential source of conflict can quickly undermine an effort to develop a functional multi-channel strategy, which relies on deep collaboration. The need for collaboration can extend beyond marketing and sales teams to include channel partners as well. While the marketing and sales channels must deliver sales, the distribution channel must fulfill these obligations.

A dysfunctional distribution component can seriously hamper a company’s ability to deliver a product or service to customers. Thus, the three channels must work together to build a sustainable multi-channel strategy that promises customers compelling benefits and delivers those benefits consistently.

Direct sales, indirect sales and channel conflict

Even within sales, there are important distinctions. Direct sales refer to sales made by sales personnel within the company. Indirect sales are those processed by third party partners. This distinction has two main implications:

  1. Sales channel marketing must support direct and indirect sales.

A channel marketing strategy may need to influence more than end-of-line customers. He may also need to influence partners who are part of an indirect sales strategy. After all, the partners are interested in working with companies that will also help them earn money.

A comprehensive sales channel marketing strategy can help consumers understand the benefits of a product and also help channel partners understand the profitability of selling that product. These demands on channel resellers often require a large team to develop targeted messaging for each party.

  1. Sales channel managers should seek to reduce conflict.

With multiple sales channels, customers can have a choice: buy direct from the company, through a wholesaler, or at the retail level. Companies are looking to expand these channels to provide customers with increased access and choice, which can lead to increased overall sales.

However, this choice also raises the potential for conflict. Internal and external sales teams can compete for the same customer, which can lead to confusion and frustration. Successful channel sales managers closely monitor the responsibilities of the sales team to minimize conflict across all sales channels.

Reinforced interdepartmental collaboration

A collaborative process may not end with sales, marketing, and distribution. Ultimately, a sales manager or vice president of sales reports to the CEO. Perhaps the most important metric during these conversations isn’t the gross number of sales, but rather the profitability of those sales.

To develop a profitable channel selling strategy, managers may need to work with a company’s finance department to determine the expense-to-revenue ratio for different channels. Beyond identifying the most lucrative channels, this knowledge can help predict staffing needs and ensure that a growing sales team stays within the limits of the company’s profitability.

Greater integration may concern managers used to working more independently. Yet the demands of a multi-channel strategy continue to offer benefits to those who increase collaboration within an organization as well as with external partners.

How to effectively manage sales channel marketing

The many responsibilities of managing sales and marketing channels provide opportunities for continuous improvement. These are the keys to developing and maintaining a successful strategy.

Conduct thorough research

When starting a new or expanded channel strategy, managers should ask themselves three key questions:

  1. Who is the buyer?

In many cases, the response will include multiple buyers. These buyers can be consumers, wholesalers, retailers or others. As part of an initial research phase, all potential buyers should be included, although some are subsequently removed from the strategy. Assessing the entire landscape for all potential buyers provides managers with an initial understanding of the full potential of a multi-channel strategy.

  1. Where can they be reached?

By identifying potential places of influence, managers can begin to develop a sales channel marketing strategy to reach potential customers. These clients can produce a diverse list of marketing opportunities that include trade publications and trade shows, as well as traditional direct-to-consumer channels such as television or radio.

  1. How to reach them?

This last question begins to assess the feasibility of reaching target audiences. By understanding the potential cost of reaching certain consumers, such as developing, producing and distributing a television ad, managers can begin to realize which channels will have the highest expenses. This advance information can help guide a marketing and sales strategy towards the most profitable avenues.

Take advantage of technology

Some salespeople or managers may be reluctant to adopt new technology. However, there are some important advantages to using a customer relationship management (CRM) or partner relationship management (PRM) system for channel management:

Sales forecast. To accurately forecast sales, managers need a constant flow of historical and contemporary sales data. A CRM or PRM allows sales staff to assess prospects based on the likelihood of a sale and the potential value of that sale. This information, in turn, can be combined to generate sales forecasts. By monitoring the accuracy of these forecasts, managers can help sales team members adopt better lead scoring practices to improve forecast accuracy.

Channel analysis. In a multi-channel strategy, managers benefit from learning more about the value of each channel. A CRM or PRM can segment lead and sales data by channel. In addition to helping identify valuable channels, real-time information can help move resources for maximum impact. For example, a sudden increase in the number of wholesale leads may justify an increased investment in an email marketing campaign that targets their needs.

Combined analysis. A CRM and a PRM combine data from marketing and sales teams. Evaluating sales data can influence the content of marketing materials. Likewise, including marketing information can help sales reps learn about a prospect’s past interactions before the sales conversation begins. The continuous exchange of information between teams can help create a smoother experience for prospects.

The Requirements and Benefits of Channel Marketing and Sales

The multi-channel approach described in this article simultaneously engages many components of a business. A marketing team should generate leads from multiple types of customers, and a sales team should work with internal and external partners to build profitable relationships. Next, a company’s distribution must deliver on the promises made by sales and marketing departments. Finally, all components are evaluated for their contributions to the business objectives defined by the C-Suite.

Developing a successful channel marketing and sales strategy can be tricky. Managers who are reluctant to increase collaboration and openly share data may find it difficult to overcome some of these common issues. High-performance managers, for their part, benefit from openness to new internal and external partnerships and the deployment of the technology that supports them.

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