If your business is pumping products through a channel pipeline, then you already understand that it is a massive undertaking. But are you doing the best to manage your partner relationships? If not, you could be at risk of losing your partnerships, which will most definitely put a kink in your chain of distribution.
Any partnership takes work. Ask a married couple. Channel partnerships can be extremely lucrative for your business, as they give your brand extended reach and increased market share. But like a nagging spouse, they can be a major headache if you don’t do the appropriate work upfront.
Distribution partners are not really customers or employees. They’re actually a hybrid of both. More importantly, they’re your partners. The goal here is to build a mutually beneficial partnership. A strong partnership will yield higher production and boost your bottom line.
There are tons of benefits to implementing distribution channel partnerships. But with each added benefit comes a challenge if you do not lay the proper groundwork.
Here are some tips and best practices you can put in place to help strengthen partnerships with your distributors:
Plan, plan, and then plan some more.
If you don’t plan on the front end, your distribution partners will be dazed and confused on the back end. With various links in the chain of channel management, it’s your job to eliminate any possible channel conflict. Conflict will send your distribution channel partners running for the hills and on the hunt for a new vendor. You must take the time to strategize. This is hands-down the most important step to creating successful, lucrative partnerships with your distributors. Proactive channel management trumps reactive channel management on any day. Don’t wait until opportunities arise – get out in front with a plan and be ready for anything!
Teamwork makes the dream work.
Just like in any relationship, if one of the parties is not content, then productivity takes a nosedive. You want to set your channel partners up for success. Any partnership takes collaborative effort to be successful, and your distribution partners are no different. Create a teamwork-oriented climate where channel partners can comfortably share ideas and feedback.
Happy partner, happy life.
You need to stand head and shoulders above your competitors, or you risk losing your distribution partners to the next best thing. Step into the shoes of your channel partners and ask yourself, “Would I rather partner with a business with innovations and ideas that make my work easier, or the company with no clear strategies and processes?” Empathy aside, most would choose the former. This is where your pre-planned strategies come in. The more your operations flow seamlessly through channels, the better.
Head of the household.
A channel management system can sometimes be chaotic, so appoint someone to keep your distribution channels in order. This point person will make sure that all your distribution partners have what they need to succeed.
Automate your system.
A web-based partner portal that distribution channel partners can access 24/7 is ideal. You want to make your interaction and engagement with your partners as seamless as possible. There are an abundance of web-based applications on the market, depending on your needs. Do your research! Time is money and your distribution partners don’t have time to spend on technology that’s not bringing efficiency to your established workflow and processes.