In the past, companies often relied solely on their partners’ and distributors’ purchase order and point-of-sale statements for insights. However, that data is inadequate for true channel intelligence. Much of the data from partners, particularly that found in internal sales organizations, is manually captured and processed, which causes long delays and significantly increases the risk for error. This ultimately leads finance, marketing, sales and supply chain management teams to make decisions based on stale or inaccurate information.
More specifically, this makes it extremely difficult for an organization to predict channel sales, calculate accurate rebates and commissions, allot market development funds (MDF) or regulate financial budgeting and planning processes.
The answer lies in enhancing current CRM, ERP and PRM systems with Channel Data Management (CDM), which automatically compiles information from of unstructured channel reports in various languages from partners, distributors and resellers across the globe.
A CDM solution also benefits an organization by correcting invalid information found within sell-through reports (end user, geography, SKU information) by utilizing algorithms that match the data to comprehensive product and reseller libraries. The analytics derived from CDM also empower teams across the business to translate massive amounts of data to improve key business decisions.
To extract the maximum benefits from channel data, there are three actions every organization should take:
1. Ask For What You Need Upfront
It sounds simple, but the first step toward getting the data your business needs is asking for it. To have a 360-degree view into the channel, companies have to inquire about vital sales and inventory data from resellers and distribution partners in order to ultimately understand how products are competing in the market.
These insights include information on which specific products were sold, which customer or reseller bought them, which region the products were purchased in, and when each action took place. In addition, vendors always benefit by compiling data on current inventory in order to help forecast future sales.
2. Deliver Immediate Insights
With CDM, vendors can deliver data insights back to channel partners immediately and in real time. For companies that sell through indirect channels, more accurate and timely channel data offers the opportunity to reclaim control over the customer relationship.
With these on-demand insights, vendors can directly monitor customer behavior and market trends even when they’re selling to customers indirectly. Equipped with this information, companies can respond more quickly and intelligently to customer demand, have more control over their market and ultimately gain more power to dictate the terms of channel sales.
3. Prepare Data to Be Sliced and Diced
In the past, companies have attempted to collect channel data manually, increasing the risk of human error and reducing the opportunity for fast analysis to make key business decisions. Organizations need to be sure that they are getting the granular and comprehensive level of channel data needed in order to truly support real-time operational decisions.
Improving the quality of information gathered from channel partners and resellers can not only provide a more detailed and trustworthy view of the performance of distribution, but it will also help channel partners feel better equipped to promote products to the end customer.
Accurate and timely channel insights are becoming more vital to businesses every day. With a CDM solution in place, businesses can successfully analyze channel data to deliver critical business insights that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Further, businesses can grow their brands to achieve customer-centric goals, as well as completely revamp and enhance existing relationships with distributors and channel partners. By taking the three actions described above, a business will be on the right path to successfully turn channel data insights into actionable intelligence, resulting in a 360-degree view into the channel and overall improve their bottom line.
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