An important decision that requires some detailed evaluation of costs vs. impact, but many companies align their sales channel plan with a channel marketing structure, too. The decision is whether to go with one overall department or a marketing team focused on channels.
- One of the most critical ingredients of a successful channel sales program is how well in sync your sales plan is with the marketing organization. The days of marketing and sales butting heads over who's doing what, or how well some sales or marketing strategy is being implemented need to be issues of the past in this day and age. The most successful companies have marketing and sales totally in line to focus on the needs of the customer. When that's in place, energy, creativity, and solutions happen faster and more often than not results in closing more sales.
With sales and marketing well aligned, one of the options to seriously consider for your channel sales plan is having marketing structured the same way. Just as there are special requirements to work and understand certain sales channels, the same can be true for marketing. A one size fits all marketing program won't work for a sophisticated channel sales plan. The way to reach the corporate market will be a lot different than the way to attract buyers using distributors or direct to consumers.
It sounds like a great idea to just setup a mirrored structure to match your channel plan. However, the same risks and opportunities exist as when you first started your sales plan. The primary questions being: can you support an additional infrastructure? Will revenue increases justify it? And, are you meeting profitability objectives? To answer these questions, you start by following the same research and surveying of the marketplace that you did when you created the channel sales plan.
Much of this depends on the structure of your company. Do you oversee sales and marketing, or just sales? Do you report to someone who manages each department? No matter what, you and your marketing team will need to answer the same questions. The process begins by looking at the current channel sales results and evaluating how your marketing team is aligned with it. You do the same market research of reviewing channels and matching that with the current marketing staffing and resources.
The ROI analysis you've done with sales can now be done with marketing too. A SWOT analysis is what I've found to be such an effective way of clearly evaluating the situation. Candidly it's difficult in most structures to add a full compliment of channel marketers and do it cost effectively. However, a meeting with the sales and marketing leadership teams to review your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will clearly lead you in the right direction. Oftentimes it leads you to come to agreement that adding resources to the fastest growing and most profitable channels is where to start.
Once successes are established, expanding from there to other channels may be the right route to go. Creating a channel marketing structure can seem like a logical next step to support your channels sales program. In many cases it is, but the decision to do so requires the same detailed analysis you did with the sales structure. Bringing the financial management team in is essential to get their support too. Two well aligned sales and marketing teams can be a very powerful force in the marketplace if carefully designed, frequently monitored, and supported.
It can be an exceptional competitive advantage, and it's worth your time and investment to see if it's a profitable opportunity for your company too.
- Surveying the marketplace
- Reviewing channels
- Managing channels and investments
- Developing a go forward plan
- Working with other departments and teams
- Handling channel conflict
- Forecasting sales
- Creating a channel marketing structure