Successful companies know how to break down barriers and have departments from sales to marketing and from finance to product development work as a team to provide the customer the service or product that's solves their needs.
- Though the years, sales representatives and even managers have been accused of maybe not being the best team players. Yes, we would get the marketing teams or business development groups involved with the sales process but it was often purely on a case by case basis. It was cordial but the interaction was managed by the salesperson. I think it goes back to the misguided belief that we, as salespeople, own the customer. We didn't want anyone else to potentially muddy up a sale so we had protective walls around accounts.
Those days are over and if you're still experiencing situations like that, then you need to model the way and ensure that more involvement occurs between the sales organization and other departments. This is even more essential with a complex channel sales structure. You need all of the internal resources, understanding the account structure, the distribution mix and the idiosyncrasies of each of the channels. It comes down to open, honest and clear communication.
It's everyone being on the same page. And no matter what department you're in we have an objective to provide a product or service to a customer, close sales and do it profitably. Getting everyone together in a semiformal way on a regular basis is a great way to start. And also maintain the open stream of communication. It's ensuring that everyone is clear with their role. I'd make it a point that just because we're looking at this in more of a team approach, doesn't mean we want three or four departments or individuals in contact with a customer.
In fact in can create confusion for the account as to who their primary contact should be. I've used a non-threatening phrase through the years that I think illustrates well what we're looking for. I've said that we can view the sales representative like an air traffic controller. All contact or work that involves a customer is something that they need always to be aware of. It's not just through your customer relationship management software but also alerting via email or telephone when direct contact with a customer is requested.
The sales representative guides the process, brings in resources as needed, and communicates with everyone. Obviously with a diverse sales channel plan, the marketing department becomes a key partner in this. The better educated and included they are, the more sales you'll close. This will hold true with the product development teams, business development groups and of course customer care too. I also believe that the finance department needs to be continually included.
Some channels will be more profitable than others. That's just the way it is. And if the finance team understands that well then they can continue to be your advocates. This then leads to how you keep senior management in the loop and how you utilize them as part of your team. It depends on your company but when senior leaders can be brought into meet with key channel partners, national accounts, or group meetings with value added resellers, it can only be beneficial. The best companies know how to break down barriers and have departments from sales and marketing and from finance to business development work together as a team.
This approach more often than not solves the needs of the customer, increases revenue and maximizes opportunities. It sets a terrific path to enable your channel sales teams to perform at the most efficient levels. And for the entire organization, to be successful.
- 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