Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Progress Report

Although the primary intention of this blog is to talk about “the Channel” – the Indirect Sales process and community, it is also the blog of Three months ago we received our first external funding and we have been VERY busy, and, as it turns out, too busy to blog! So to plug that gap, we thought it would useful to give some idea of what we have been doing, and some of the things we have encountered along the way. Don’t worry, we do not intend to go into the system step by step but we are going to talk about things we have seen as we have been piloting the system, and running it in parallel to some good projects.

It is important to understand that we are truly pioneering an approach to Indirect Sales that will allow all members of this community to benefit – obviously the Vendors and Distributors sells more, but also the “Channel” now has its own process so they can be part of a better collaborative selling environment.

We have found some interesting things, and in future articles we shall discuss in more depth.

The system is working for 3 classic situations:

 1) Small companies building a channel. The sales tracking is important but having a single version of the truth on joint deals, on partner management is so difficult. Everything is buried in emails and spreadsheets – and there are many spreadsheets.  The ability to put them on Drive or Dropbox seems to do very little to improve the situation for the simple reason that this is not a process. It is just storage of a problem that has existed for years. What is needed IS a common process for all personas. We think we have got that working really well now.

2) Medium size companies, who already have a channel, but managing it is a problem.  Again everything is done in spreadsheets and email because that is a format that everyone is used to, but once again there is the need for a process that is as effective as Salesforce, but for Indirect Channel Sales. Deal control, forecasting, performance indicators are all difficult when everyone involved in this loosely connected community does not have a process they feel part of. It must be integrated with the corporate CRM, but the CFO will not allow Partners to directly use that CRM – it is part of the Finance system.

3) Perhaps the most surprising is the fact that these problems exist at the level of major companies – Vendors AND Distributors. Even they rely on spreadsheets and email, which is a surprise. However, the reasons are the same – the lack of a process that could produce the data needed to improve the business. In fact, the universal push to a lighter footprint sales organization, without loss of momentum is making this an area of future investment. We need to get this right. A major difference with this community, though is that universal adoption of the tool is never even discussed (yet :-) ). Each and every exercise to bring controlled collaborative selling is being done on a funded Campaign basis.

Inevitably, our experiences over the past few months in each of these situations has broadened the feature set, so we can be used by the broad base of vendors a VAR might come across. In future blogs we can talk about some of these. The focus right now is get the API finished and tested against a dedicated mobile app for the Partner – but more on that another day.