It is notorious the importance of an efficient network of indirect sales channels and how they can play a central role in your business strategy. Undoubtedly, an attractive program with relevant benefits and close and constant business management are vital to the success of this strategy. However, in an earlier stage to this, defining the ideal profile of these indirect channels and selecting them in the market are equally important activities and if not well designed and analyzed can generate huge headaches at the time of commercial execution and, worse, difficult to reverse. In this article, we point out 3 questions that you should answer when thinking about defining indirect sales channels or getting them in the market:
1) Is your internal commercial structure prepared to have a network of indirect channels of high performance?
Nobody thinks and runs a program to structure indirect sales channels so that they are not efficient. Moreover, incredible as it may seem, this is a generally neglected point, that is, the impact of rolling out indirect sales channels within the company’s business structure. Take a previous exercise: Unexpectedly the amount of leads generated by this new network of indirect sales channels double the current volume. Will your business and service structure be able to meet this new demand? By doing this exercise you will begin to find the potential bottlenecks of your current business process that may jeopardize the adoption of new indirect channels. It is critical that you measure the “capacity” of each stage of your sales process and assess whether after-sales, deployment, support, and other areas will require adjustments, new tools or process changes. Not paying attention to these items can bring direct and indirect problems in the satisfaction of the final customer and waste of investments made in new sales channels.
In addition, from this analysis of the internal capacity of your sales and service structure we come to the second question:
2) How far, in your value chain, do you want your indirect channel to go?
Based on the diagnosis of your internal “capacity” you can conclude, for example, that your deployment area will not have “arms” to meet the growing demand for incoming projects. From there you have two options: either you strengthen your internal area, which is not always feasible in the short to medium term, or else you need your indirect sales channel to assume that function previously. This prior definition is fundamental, since this need also defines the profile of your supplier, thus ensuring that your service agreement meets this new demand. In addition to the question of the channel’s scope of action, other more basic topics such as commercial structure, geographic location and segments of the new sales channels must be evaluated in the companies that you will be contacting. However, it is not always easy to assess the portfolio of these companies, since in practice they will always say they can do everything you need.
And this brings us to the third question:
2) What is the relevance of your product to your supplier’s portfolio?
There are important assessments you should make about your potential vendor’s portfolio. What products does he have experience in marketing? What is the concentration of your sales in the different products that he sells? What will be the relevance of your product in your supplier’s sales portfolio? A simple example can help you think: imagine that the average ticket of the products that your potential supplier sells is R $ 2 million and that the average ticket of your products or services is R $ 200 thousand. At the end of the day, in which products do you think your supplier’s vendors will focus his sales efforts? No matter how good your training, no matter how clear the policy of your sales program, sellers are motivated by the final value of the commissioning note and considering that comparison, your products will be placed in the background.
Defining the right profile of indirect sales channels and their scope of action are complex, labor-intensive tasks that require exclusive knowledge and dedication that most business areas do not have. Not to mention the efforts for managing indirect sales channels, which always tends to be neglected when compared to the internal sales channels.
Therefore, given the importance that this challenge represents for a company’s channel strategy, especially in times of crisis and scarce sales, we believe that the integrated approach of the topics discussed in this article, coupled with a robust and efficient channel program, help minimize the risk of poor execution and ensure the return on investment made in this vital strategy for many organizations.
(*) Fernando Teixeira da Silva is a consultant to PratikaPro and a specialist in the implementation of indirect sales channels.