04 Apr Salesforce and Channel Partners in Manufacturing
Channel partners, including distributors and manufacturer’s agents, are key to the success of all manufacturers that don’t maintain a direct connection with customers. While it can be difficult to identify, recruit, and sign the right channel partners, it is can also be challenging to manage and nourish relationships with them on an ongoing basis, especially without a CPQ solution on hand.
These challenges include ensuring that channel partners:
- Place the manufacturers products at the heart of their sales efforts
- Access the latest, most accurate product information
- Provide visibility on to their sales pipelines in support of planning and budgeting
Thankfully, the Salesforce platform provides a number of solutions that enable manufacturers to optimize and enhance their channel partner relationships. Salesforce provides manufacturers with the ability to offer channel partners:
- Tools to properly configure solutions that meet exacting customer requirements
- Accurate and up-to-date pricing and product information from a single source of truth
- Opportunities for generating recurring revenues to increase lifetime customer value
Let’s look at some features and capabilities of the Salesforce platform that support channel partner-based sales models.
Sales book visibility and tracking
Salesforce enables channel partners to register their opportunities in the customer relationship management system, enabling manufacturers to perform budgeting and planning with confidence. Leveraging Sales Cloud and Community Cloud, manufacturers can design and implement processes for registering sales opportunities, sharing territory or market-specific qualified leads, accessing partner discounts and market development funds, viewing inventory, and tracking commissions.
Standardized price book and quoting tools
Salesforce CPQ—CPQ stands for configure-price-quote—enables manufacturers to provide their channel partners with a standardized price book of available product and service offerings, as well as channel partner-specific discounts and payment terms. Salesforce CPQ also provides a tool for building custom configurations with consistent and accurate pricing that respects business rules and channel partner commitments. With its AI-driven guided selling capability known as Salesforce Einstein, Salesforce CPQ ensures that proposed product configurations are always optimized, while also proposing relevant solution components and services, enabling partners to explore the full range of opportunities for capturing customer share of wallet.
Channel partner communications
Once you have identified and signed the right channel partners, the next step is to get them up and running so that they can begin to be productive; this requires providing channel partner personnel with immediate and convenient access to product training, sales tools, and marketing collateral. Salesforce Community Cloud provides manufacturers with the opportunity to build partner-specific portals and communities where channel partner employees can access partner-specific pricing information and branded marketing collateral, ask product sales and support questions, and consult the latest product notices (such as for installation and repair).
Recurring revenues … supported by the Internet of Things
Key to maintaining partner interest and keeping the manufacturer’s offerings top of mind when channel partners pitch new business is the ability to provide meaningful opportunities for increasing lifetime customer value. In addition to providing channel partners with unique products that can be customized to meet unique customer needs, pricing that aligns with customer delivered value, and a well-designed compensation program, there is the ability to provide channel partners with opportunities to maintain customer dialogue and to continue to monetize the customer relationship. Salesforce CPQ includes support for tracking and invoicing recurring revenues, such as managed services or subscription services, expanding opportunities for revenues beyond manufactured goods. Salesforce also provides support for products embedded with communication and light processing capabilities, commonly known as the Internet of Things (IoT), enabling manufacturers and their channel partners to provide ongoing services based on insight into product usage. (Learn more about Salesforce IoT.)
Field Service Lightning
Salesforce’s Field Service Lightning (FSL) solution leverages the existing customer data in Sales Cloud and Service cloud to provide manufacturers and their channel partners with the tools needed to provide remote support to customers, including installation, maintenance, and repair activities. Leveraging Einstein AI, FSL can even predict product failures and schedule proactive maintenance to avoid downtime and ensure the best customer experience. (Read a FSL case study.)
For all these reasons, SalesForce is by far a platform favored by manufacturers all over the world.
Authors: Salesforce CPQ Consultant, Nathalie Adam, and Pierre-Luc Jodoin, Professional Services Director, Salesforce Practice
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