What is “sales channel management,” and how can we implement it in an effective manner?
Before we get too far into this discussion, let’s first identify the exact meaning of the word “channel” (courtesy of www.dictionary.com):
- A course or pathway through which information is transmitted.
- A route of communication or access. Often used in the plural.
- That through which anything passes; means of passing, conveying, or transmitting.
For the purposes of our discussion, let’s define “sales channel(s)” as “the means through which we convey (and receive) sales related information and products.” Examples of sales channels include:
Sales Team, Telemarketing, eCommerce, Direct Mail, Distributors, Brokers, Social Media, Trade Shows, etc.
Next, we need to ask a couple of questions:
- How do we properly manage these channels to maximize customer acquisition and retention?
- Should we use a single-channel strategy, or a multi-channel one?
- If we choose to use multiple channels, which are the right choices and what is the right mix?
It was previously thought (old thinking for sure) that the best strategy would use the fewest channels possible (while still achieving acceptable market penetration), avoid conflict at all costs, and choose which channel should be utilized for each customer (prospect).
Today, the reality is quite different and an effective strategy should employ the most appropriate sales asset(s) in as many channels as possible, manage conflict instead of avoiding it, and let customers (prospects) control how they want to do business instead of dictating it!
Ultimately, they make the choice of which channel they will use. The question is: are you going to be on the other end of their decision?
The bottom line is that you need to be flexible and allow customers access to their preferred way(s) of conducting business. You need to create choices for your customers (prospects) that fit their preferred buying style, and make it easy for them to gain access to those channels and ultimately your products and services.
John Kypriotakis is the President of Lysis International,
a Tampa based Sales and Management consulting firm,
specializing in B2B Sales, Management and Leadership.