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CRM, Channel Enablement, Sales Enablement, Sales Cloud, PRM…. what is really needed for retail channel management

December 03, 2019 Tags: Blog

CRM, Channel Enablement, Sales Enablement, Sales Cloud, PRM…. what is really needed for retail channel management

A review of various sales technologies and platforms shows a large number of solutions and concepts which can be quite challenging to decide what is needed by CMOs & CSOs. Let’s run through some of these concepts

  Customer relationship management (CRM) is an approach to managing a company’s relationships with customers. This can include a series of guidelines that are followed by the organization when dealing with customers as well as the technologies used to manage the interactions. CRM helps companies stay connected to their customers and build relationships with them, which leads to increased loyalty and, thus, improves profitability. CRM involves conducting data analysis about customers’ history with a company in order to achieve these goals. 

 Channel enablement is the process through which a company empowers its channel partners to increase the sale of their products and services in the retail channel. Channel enablement allows companies to reach a wider range of markets and increase growth and revenue. Specifically, it focuses on the provision of tools and strategies in order to help the channel partners be successful. This improves relationships with channel partners and so can drive sales for the company. 

 Sales enablement is the provision of tools and content to sales organizations in order to increase the effectiveness of the sales team. This focuses more on the specificities between the sales team and the consumers and the tools required to help them be successful in those interactions. This tends to be more to do with the buyer and providing the sales team with information that the buyer wants. 

 Partner management refers to the tools and strategies used to maintain relationships with partners. The difference between partner management and CRM is that CRM is more focused on the consumer – who is the buyer – while partner management is more focused on the channel partners. It places more emphasis on the relationship with the partner. It can be thought of as a specialized version of CRM. 

Let’s dig deeper and understand how to apply them in your strategy. There are 2 focus areas…Process Management and Empowerment.

Sales Processes, whether working for direct sales teams or through partners need a method of management. These include Customer Databases, contact management, Deal Management, workflow processes, and reporting. Salespersons spend considerable time reporting, rather than selling. As per a study, Salespeople spend just one-third of their day actually talking to prospects. They spend 21% of their day writing emails, 17% entering data, another 17% prospecting and researching leads, 12% going to internal meetings, and 12% scheduling calls. The goal of technology solutions like CRM is to reduce administrative overhead and increase selling time. Most CRM systems will communicate the business benefit of improving productivity in the range of 30%~40%.

Empowering salespersons calls for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of selling. Smart customers are reaching out to the salespersons, after considerable online research. Does the salesperson have the skills and readiness to engage the customer effectively?  Various studies have shown that a well informed and credible salesperson gets more 123% more sales. As marketing leaders we spend considerable resources to improve the effectiveness using regular training, sending product updates and creating portals and apps for channel partners. This does not guarantee sales performance. A recent article in Forbes talks about 57% of sales reps missed their quotas.

What is Sales Enablement?

An excellent definition from Sirius Decision is Sales enablement’s purpose is to ensure salespeople have the skills, knowledge, behaviors, and tools needed to engage [buyers, team, other] in rich conversations.  Gartner has commented: To maximize effectiveness during the sales process, suppliers need to adopt a sales enablement approach that is tailored to the specific needs of the various individuals (and roles) that are involved in the sales process, even those that report into other functions,” says Todd Berkowitz, managing vice president at Gartner.

 Challenges
Improving sales effectiveness takes a new meaning when your channel is a retail sales channel which includes distributors sales reps, promoters, and others involved in selling valued products like appliances, consumer electronics, etc. Challenges include:

  1. Access to sales channel: the sales channel is spread out in millions of sales reps and potentially out of reach to the brands
  2. Adhoc nature of the relationship. Training while it is critical is provided through an army of trainers who execute the training in an Adhoc manner.
  3. Sales Rep loyalty is a challenge. These sales reps are not engaged and not committed to the brand.
  4. Attrition rates are very high. A study from Dailypay shows a 65% attrition rate in retail. Brand messages get diluted.
  5. A single distributor sales rep maybe managing 100s to 1000s of retail outlets. The scale of operation is considerably different.

In this context, a new concept of Sales Enablement and engagement is needed. In these processes, CRM utilization may not yield the results and traditional Sales enablement platforms may not be impactful. Most of the traditional platforms have focused on complex sales processes. The Customer buying journey is simpler and Sales engagement needs to enable this buying journey.

The key components for sales enablement and engagement for a retail sales channel

  1. A need to be mobile 1st or mobile-only. These teams don’t have access to desktops and portals
  2. Enablement focused on continuous bite-sized learning. These sales professionals don’t have the time for learning
  3. Integrated with incentives and rewards. The sales behavior model drives a need to be rewarded for activities.
  4. Gamify the experience. Retail Salespersons need an engagement that creates a positive environment. Gamifying the experience makes it compelling to complete tasks and activities.
  5. It creates a desire to be part of the brand. This enablement platform needs to have the ability to get quick feedback and provide market insight to the brand.

 As marketing and sales leaders, we need to review the customer journey and sales processes to drive the right kind of sales technology which can help improve both the sales processes and sales skills and drive the right sales behaviour.