Thursday, October 31, 2013

What is the Indirect Sales Channel?

There is an assumption that all sales take place through a directly employed sales team, and/or, more recently, through the web. The problem with having a Direct Sales team is that they are notoriously expensive to run. In IT Enterprise Software Sales, for example, many companies use a number of $420K pa, as the standard loaded cost of a rep. Having global coverage with such an overhead is, to say the least, not something you can do instantly. On the other hand, "the web" gives you global coverage at VERY low cost, which is great if you have products that sell themselves. Put them on Amazon and watch the money flow? The trouble is that a lot of the time you need "people" as part of the mix - consultants, integrators and business people who know customers needs - Sales people, Resellers, etc.

Many companies have a diverse mix of "Channels". The diagram above gives a simple view of how a typical Sales Ecosystem might work. The right and balanced approach to your overall sales strategy is vital, not only to saving costs, but to increasing sales - and reach - and supportability. The area to the left has been the focus, because it has been the most tightly controlled. However, the entire ecosystem to the right is clearly of a scale that few companies can ever reach. The goal of Channel Sales Automation is to provide that framework and realize that potential. 
The examples, listed, of companies that have leveraged the channel to create their empires are all classic tech companies, but this model applies to almost any business type, especially when the product needs "people" as part of the process.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

As we get close to the launch of the formal beta system, I intend to use this medium to explain some aspects of what we are doing. There all sorts of terms for all sorts of services in around Sales and Channel Sales, and we are something very precise and understandable - I hope! We really are a Channel Sales Automation System. We are not a PRM or a CDM. We are to Indirect Sales what is to Direct Sales - a system that allows all the personas in a Channel Sales process to use a common Sales system. They can be the Reseller, a Services partner, a distributor, and several personas from the Vendor. They can be doing Leads screening, or leads nurturing, but they are ALL part of the same process.

It's just that in the world of Indirect sales, the players are brought into the Deal on a JIT basis, and paid on a performance basis. This means that the Vendor can extend his virtual sales organization far and wide but keep a common process for everyone. At the same time it really is a system for the Channel - the Vendor effectively sponsors the use of the system by the Resellers, so that they only ever have one system to work with. The Resellers can then invite their other Vendors to use this common system, and this makes life more consistent and professional for the Reseller.

In turn, each Vendor can use their own preferred systems - Netsuite, Salesforce, Zoho, Oracle, etc, etc for CRM, or Mailchimp, Marketo, Constant Contact, Pardot, etc for Marketing automation - and indeed the existing systems for PRM, CDM, etc that make sense of derived data, can now work with our pure data, to give even better value to their customers. Indeed, these customers are likely to be shared customers. The Vendor can treat as their channel sandbox which gets fed by Leads from Silverpop and sends updates to Netsuite - or whatever tools you prefer as a Vendor, Distributor, etc.

In other words, a rich ecosystem is evolving to catalyze specialization in Sales, and the magic of the API will be the way to make it all work for us.

Over the next few days, I will start to expand some aspects of this new and needed approach. I have used some diagrams that explain some of the dynamics pictorially, and I will share them too. I think this helps. If you want to be part of our private beta, you can go to our "embryonic" landing page, find the Contact us at the bottom and send us a note. We WILL follow up. The time is now!