If you’re a seller who heavily relies on channel partnerships to do business (say, in manufacturing or information technologies), understanding that your partners’ sales pipeline is yours too may take some time
Then again, with no direct sales force on your side, the end-customer base can seem to be owned by partners though you as a vendor create products or services purposely with end customers in mind.
This diluted sense of ownership can prevent vendors from seeing a bigger picture, the one where they can positively influence sales growth with just the right level of visibility into end customer data. Below, we suggest one of the possible ways for vendors to source these data directly from channel partners by integrating partner portals with vendors’ CRM software. And if you think that we’re looking for a solution in very odd places, read on.
In channel partnerships, sharing information is down to the partnership culture, policies and strategies on both sides. Still, there is a positive correlation between the transparency of partners’ sales processes and the following benefits:
These benefits can only be achieved through cooperation that is supported with technology. With partner portals as the cornerstones of digitally enabled channel partnerships, their integration with vendors’ CRM systems is a rational and highly recommended step.
Even though in our CRM consulting experience we have seen how CRMs as such are used for partnership management, for example, by B2B manufacturing companies and national agencies with a country-wide network of partners, licensees, and sub-contractors, they can’t provide the entire spectrum of opportunities if they don’t enable sourcing data on end customers.
As two-way data supply from both vendors’ and partners’ perspectives is critical, this can take place either by first-hand data input in the partner portal that’s synchronized with the vendor’s CRM or by integrating partners’ CRM with the partner portal, which incurs additional costs and risks.
Either way, the vendor can tap into the following business functions through CRM plus portal features:
Providing such detailed information through the partner portal (or, even duplicating it from partners’ own CRM systems) is hard if there’s no common understanding of how important this could be for driving sales growth. It is down to the vendor to incentivize their partners, drawing a direct line between partners’ activities and rewards.
Rewards can come in different shapes but they mostly deal with personalized discounts (for specific partners’ bids) or more favorable terms of cooperation for those who fulfills certain conditions (e.g. deal registration via the partner portal).
Visibility into end customer data brings multiple benefits for both vendors and their channel partners. To help achieve this, there comes a technology, in our case, CRM software, that can be effectively customized to provide access to partners’ sales data through its integration with the partner portal.
This approach is by no means easy, but it enables transparency over leads and competition, better management of opportunities and broader capabilities for winning bigger deals, which makes vendor CRM a necessary link in making dynamically growing sales in channel partnerships possible.
If you wonder if you could keep the balance between IT spending on system integration, partners’ incentivizing and ROI, don’t hesitate to contact our CRM consulting team for a free consultation.