Did you know that 75% of global trade is sold through channel sales? However, very little has been published in comparison with direct sales.
But what is channel sales and how is it different from direct sales? Businesses (we call them vendors here) sell through intermediaries in channel sales. These intermediaries have several names: partners, dealers, resellers, traders, agents, affiliates, etc. This business model is also known as indirect sales since the company has no direct contact with the final customer.
On the other hand, in a direct sales model, the company sells directly to the end consumer. A brand selling via its own shop and website would be an example of this model. In addition, many companies can use a mix of direct and indirect sales.
What worked six years ago, or even six months ago, might not work today. In struggling economies, more businesses build channel distribution models. Companies that started as a direct-to-consumer model, are widening their go-to-market tactics by including indirect distribution alliances with major wholesale stores. They realized that if they really want to grow, it’s hard to do and very expensive on a one-to-one basis.
Once a company has decided to use distributors or partners, they will need to find a proper solution to manage them. Community Cloud (soon to be called Experience Cloud) from Salesforce, is an online social platform that enables companies not only to connect customers, and employees with each other, but also partners.
Let’s go over the 3 main advantages Community Cloud offers to companies that sell through partners:
1. Saving time and money when hiring partners
Your whole partners’ onboarding process can be automated. This eradicates routine logistical tasks during the on-board process. By using Community Cloud to manage partner relationships, partners can be invited to a group in order to enable your company to share CRM data with them. A common pool of leads can be built and passed on to partner users in the community. This will save tons of back-and-forth emails, phone calls, documents, internal discussions, and more. No resellers want to deal with that as they maintain partnerships with many companies.
By using Community Cloud, partners will be able to access:
- Efficient onboarding
- Marketing campaigns and financing
- Qualified leads
- Registration of deal
- Opportunity management
- Simple and quick quoting
2. Providing a better customer experience
Technology that allows a better channel partner experience leads to a better consumer experience. If your business is a manufacturing company that sells essential products and it uses only a couple of retail partners through a channel sales model, there is a chance those products run out at some point. That creates huge frustrations for everyone. By creating the right channel sales program and giving your partners immediate access to the resources they need, such as critical sales assets and product information, your business makes sure all partners have what they need to run smoothly.
3. Get insights into partner performance
Whether your business manages 5 or 5,000 partners, Community Cloud provides the ability to provide stakeholders with an “everything store” that has everything they need to sell and market your offerings more effectively.
Also, reports built on Community Cloud help your partners’ community managers monitor partners’ activity and take action on that activity. They will see what sales are taking place and which are being carried out, so you always have a detailed overview of your business.
Additionally, because Community Cloud is fully responsive, it’s easy to provide a rich experience that can be viewed on any mobile device. You will be giving your partners the tools to make better business decisions on the go.
The Bottom Line
A Salesforce partner community can help you bring communication between you and your business partners to a whole new level. With many customization options and exceptional functionality, you can launch a partner community that showcases everything great about your business.
Today, selling via partners looks very different from a decade ago due to all the new distribution platforms and online channels we have at our fingertips.
A piece of advice from our experts: Just because there are more distribution outlets to exploit this doesn’t mean you should use them all.
You rarely see that each sales channel is just another channel for equal purposes. Some are good for heavy sales, some for research, and others for discontinued goods. Consider the particular role of each channel as part of the general multiple channel strategy.
Always go back to who the customer is and how they want to shop. If you find a buying trend for a millennial age demographic, Instagram could be a good platform for you, instead of using regular sales channels like retail stores, for example.
Once this is figured out, kickstart your new channel strategy by using Community Cloud, and take your business to new heights.
If you’re looking for a new way to connect and engage with your partners and build an online experience like no other, get in touch with one of our Community Cloud experts.