We can review sales opportunities by looking in many channel directions and learn learn that each channel has its own idiosyncrasies. We must start with a broad view of where we can focus and then determine which ones are best for our product or service.
- Imagine for a minute you're the vice president of sales for a company that's developed an exciting new product, or maybe the company you work for creates a new type of service that has enormous potential. A key piece of the overall business and financial plans will be the sales plan. As the head of sales, you've been tasked with preparing a review of sales channels, distribution models, sales staff expenses, and of course, revenue projections. It's like starting with a blank piece of paper.
And before you do any detailed analyses, you'll want to prepare a list of channels to target. Very simply, ask yourself these three very broad questions. Who do you want to sell to? How do you want to do it? And by what means can be used to accomplish it? It's like your all inclusive wishlist. For example, you may write down value-added reseller as one of your sales channels to increase opportunities in corporate human resources department. The list that follows isn't all inclusive, and we're not here to debate the differences between sales channel and distribution channel.
Think broadly and be optimistic, but understand that as you begin to analyze your cost, your lists will probably shrink. So for the product or service you have, maybe you look at it like I have by direct and indirect. You add additional ones or remove ones that wouldn't apply. For the product or service, we're going to look at it by direct and indirect process. Both lists are pretty self-explanatory. The direct list focuses on one-to-one contact with the buyer of your product or service.
The indirect list can get more complex. Each of them will have their own idiosyncrasies, methods of working with them effectively, success and failure rates, and expenses. You'll also need to bear in mind that some sales people are better than others for handling certain types of accounts. Selling to a corporation is a lot different than trying to close business with a wholesaler. Depending on what you're offering, you could fine tune certain channels more by segmenting them into greater detail.
For example, you could be more specific with the type of retailers and wholesalers and the end users they're going after. Obviously development teams will have input, but it's also important to bring in your marketing and research teams at this point too, since they will need to be involved in the next stages. Ensuring that everyone understands your thinking right from the start is critical. They could also flag areas where they may see more potential than you. Reviewing the channels and laying out the framework for sales opportunities for your new venture is a fun stage.
It's the initial step for those of you with sales channel management responsibilities. It could be somewhat of a wishlist, but you're doing it with realistic expectations. You're viewing the marketplace, customers, and buyers with an objective to reach them with your sales teams and you're mapping out a framework of possibilities with the goal of maximizing sales.
- 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