Meeting with key accounts and distributors annually to conduct a complete review of the business not only solidifies relationships, but often uncovers revenue opportunities and also targets areas to improve so profitability can be increased for everyone.
- Obviously, for sales people, the favorite part of our job is when our account places an order. It's the culmination of hard work, and the reward for providing them with a product or service that fills a need. Sometimes when I tell people my next favorite part of the sales process, they look at me funny and wonder if I'm kidding, but I'm being totally serious. After closing a sale, I've always enjoyed the part of the sales process when we do follow-up sessions with the customer, business reviews with accounts, and annual evaluations of the business.
Doesn't sound like a fun part of our job, in fact when done right they're a lot of work. However, the information learned and exchanged can be invaluable, and so critical to achieving long-term success. Customer channel reviews are quite similar to the SWOT analyzes you've done in the exploratory stages of channel sales prep work. You've got established relationships now with channel partners, key accounts, and corporations. Now you want to learn again what's working, what's not, where the opportunities for growth are, and what obstacles we may face going forward.
These meetings also give the opportunity for you and your sales representatives to work together and plan the agenda for meeting with accounts and partners. It enables you to let them present themselves in a different setting, and it's a great way to let them handle the increased responsibility. Key account and channel reviews are usually done at a minimum of once every 12 months. They are an important part of the overall sales channel strategy. Sales and current year results usually are the initial focus since everyone is tied to the numbers.
However, digging in to learn more of the whys and how the results came in a certain way is where you can really learn. It's during the discussions of revenue when you bring up opportunities, and ask you where you think the growth trends are going. At the same time, it's important to know when a product or service isn't working as planned. Business reviews are perfect for getting an honest assessment of the business. It's always fun when you hear that things are working great and revenue is up. However, sitting across a table from a channel partner or key account, and facing the reality that business isn't meeting expectations is important to know, too.
You can discuss ways to remedy the situation, or step back and determine what your next step should be. During regular account visits or sales call, the agenda is usually set firmly, and time always seems to be at a minimum. Business reviews give you the opportunity to have more time for back and forth discussions. You're not selling. Both parties are working together to review the business, and ideally finding ways to do it better. It's every salesperson's goal of solidifying the business relationship.
The actual channel review links in with this, too. It's taking the feedback from account reviews, and then adding in your revenue and expense reporting for the channels to get an overall view of the business. It's from these meetings when you can determine whether to invest more, or if scaling back plans may be necessary. Key account reviews give you the chance to meet with customers, to seek out areas for growth, while at the same time solving problems that may be creating obstacles for everyone. The honest and open feedback done in these meetings is so productive.
It leads the channel reviews that are honest and focused, using the direct feedback from customers. The best companies use these meetings as a valuable tool, and it separates them from their competition.
- 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