Best Practices to cCRM™ Your Channel

l White Paper
Best Practices to cCRM™ Your Channel
Manufacturers have adopted CRM solutions to manage their direct sales process and
organization. Though a long time coming, companies using CRM are realizing the true value
that these solutions can provide. However, CRM is not targeted at managing the channel and
channel management processes have often been left to manual, legacy systems that don’t
integrate with the now standard CRM solutions. Research shows that high-tech vendors often
have over 60 percent of their business flowing through the channel, which has become the
predominant route to their customers. How does an organization leverage the time, money
and effort they have put into their CRM solution and apply it to the channel?
cCRM Your Channel!
The obvious answer is to get channel visibility and
processes incorporated into the now deployed CRM
solution. We call getting channel data into your CRM,
channel CRM or cCRM.
More often than not, we are seeing Salesforce.com
as our customers’ CRM solution. Salesforce.com has
been growing at a faster pace than the other CRM
solutions and is taking share rapidly.
Best Practices to cCRM Your Channel
Getting channel data into your CRM can deliver a
number of significant benefits. Detailed below are
some of the best practices and benefits of getting
channel data integrated into Salesforce.com.
Please note that while the examples shown are all
in Salesforce.com, many of these techniques can
also be utilized to deliver channel sales visibility in
conjunction with other CRM applications.
The key reasons to cCRM your channel include:
• P
ut real-time Channel Partner and Customer
Performance Visibility into the hands of channel
and account execs
• I dentify and recruit new high-potential resellers
and end customers buying across multiple
distributors and geographies
• Q
uickly Identify Out of Warranty Products –
This visibility allows you to renew maintenance
agreements and stop providing free support
• A
utomatically Close Deal/Design Registrations
saving time and driving increased partner loyalty
• F
orecast Channel Sales just like your direct sales
in Salesforce
Channelinsight has combined these best practices
from a number of expert sources.
• System Integrators like Accenture and PwC
• Channel Analysts like Gartner and Forrester
• Channelinsight benchmarking research and broad
customer experience
Real-Time Channel Partner and
Customer Performance Visibility
The first step in effectively utilizing channel data is to
get it into the hands of the decision makers who are
working directly with your channel partners. Since
Salesforce has become their primary system for sales
information and reports, it makes sense to put the
channel data they need directly into a system they
already use.
The key to accurately getting channel sales data into
Salesforce is to be able to accurately match point-ofsale (POS) data to the account objects in Salesforce.
This might sound easy, but unfortunately it is quite
complex. The account hierarchy in Salesforce is
rarely the same as in your master customer/partner
hierarchy nor does it match the data coming in
as POS. They key is to create a custom Salesforce
hierarchy and match your POS to that hierarchy.
This keeps the data in line with what sales is using in
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Salesforce regardless of the corporate hierarchy. For
example, the corporate hierarchy might have all Bank
of America sites rolling up to one state, say California.
Figure 4: Channel Partner Inventory Visibility in
Salesforce
But the field organization may be managing Bank of
America sales at the city level or postal code level,
say San Francisco or 94109. You have to organize
and match up the data based on how the field is
organizing it.
Once you have the data organized to match your
Salesforce hierarchy, it is possible to make a broad
range of dashboards and reports to show the key
information that the field is using to make channel
program decisions. Figure 2, 3 and 4 illustrate some
good dashboard examples.
Figure 2: Real-Time Channel Partner and Customer
Performance Visibility
Figure 3: Consolidated Direct and Indirect Channel
Visibility in Salesforce
Identify and Recruit New Channel
Customers and Resellers
Whether it is to replace existing under-performing
partners or to grow their channel into new or
developing geographies, most manufacturers are
looking for new channel partners. Distribution
channel partners are a good source of potential
resellers and VARs. They have historic data on what
products resellers focus on and have sold. Asking
your distribution partners to help identify good
potential resellers is a great place to start.
Another way to effectively identify potential resellers
and end customers is to look within your own POS
data. Frequently there are emerging resellers and
end customers already buying your products but
these new customers or partners are difficult to spot.
They often buy from multiple distributors to spread
their credit profile or so they can buy from multiple
geographies. These actions make it difficult to find
these resellers or customers unless you automatically
roll-up POS data for each customer across
distributors and geographies using sophisticated
matching logic.
Figure 5 demonstrates how by using an automated
matching approach; you can identify new potential
end customers and partners. In Salesforce
vernacular, these customers and partners would be
called “Unmanaged” as they do not currently have a
Salesforce account assigned for them. Once they are
identified and qualified, it is easy to add them to your
“managed” Salesforce account set by creating a “New
Account.” An example of creating a new account for
Cyberdyne Systems is shown in Figure 6.
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Figure 5: Identifying New Channel Partners
and Customers
product sold, what partners sold it, the date it was
sold, what serial numbers were sold and to which
end customer. Then whenever a customer or partner
asks for warranty support, the vendor’s customer
service team will have all the detail needed to know
if the product is still under warranty and if there is an
active maintenance agreement in place.
Figure 7: Identifying out of Warranty Products
Figure 6: Creating a “New Account” from an
Unmanaged Account
Quickly Identify Out of Warranty
Products
Recurring maintenance agreements can be a
significant portion of a vendor’s revenue and an even
higher percentage of profits. Many vendors miss out
on potential revenue by not getting their partners
to renew these agreements in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, many vendors support customers
whose products are no longer under warranty
because the vendor does not have the data available
to determine if the product is still eligible. The benefit
of having visibility to this data in Salesforce is two
fold: knowing which customers have a valid warranty
and which customers are candidates for maintenance
agreement renewals thus reducing costs and
increasing revenue.
A best practice to manage warranties is to include
the product serial number when POS data is loaded
into Salesforce. Vendors will then have visibility to the
Another benefit to this approach is the ability
to provide leads to partners when maintenance
agreements are about to expire. Partners receive
leads based on maintenance agreements sold 10 or
11 months ago that are now up for renewal. Metrics
and incentives can be put in place to encourage
partners to renew these maintenance agreements.
Additionally, some vendors will redistribute their
maintenance renewal leads if the partner does not
close them within a defined timeframe.
Automatically Close Deal and
Design Registrations
Deal or Design registrations, named differently
depending on your industry, are one of the key
metrics that vendors use to measure their partners’
demand creation activity as well as how their
partners protect design efforts with a preferred price
from the vendor.
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A lot of time and effort is put into developing
registration programs and trying to measure results.
Unfortunately, POS data is often not matched to
channel registrations. When it is matched, it is often a
manual process that is very time consuming.
The best practice is to automatically close the
registration loop and match POS data to open
channel registrations. This is done by pulling in
approved registrations from your partner portal and
creating opportunities in Salesforce. Your partner
portal can be built in Salesforce or in a number of
other applications. The key is that they load the
registration as an opportunity into Salesforce. Figure
8 shows an open opportunity waiting in Salesforce
for POS data to come in and match to it.
Figure 8: Open Registration Waiting for POS Data
to Match
Figure 9: POS Automatically Matches to Registration
in Salesforce
Once all the POS for a particular opportunity has
shipped, the opportunity can be configured to close
and the shipping status automatically changes to
“Complete.” Figure 10 shows an opportunity that
has closed based on all the product shipping. In this
particular case, the partner sold a bit more than
was expected and a negative unshipped amount is
shown.
Figure 10: Closed Registration – All POS Shipped
Once the registration is loaded into Salesforce, the
best practice is to create rules to automatically match
this POS to open opportunities. These matching
rules can contain a combination of partner name,
end customer name, date range, product or SKU,
special price or debit ID. Once developed, the rules
are used to automatically associate POS to an open
registration so full visibility of registration results can
be analyzed.
As seen in Figure 9 below, when POS is reported it
will automatically match to an open opportunity in
Salesforce. The shipping status, opportunity stage,
probability and shipped amount automatically
update.
Automating this closed-loop registration process has
a number of significant benefits. Having a robust
registration process increases partner loyalty and
the likelihood that they will push your product. A
closed-loop registration process also gives marketing
much needed feedback to determine if their channel
marketing programs are effective or not and saves a
lot of time when trying to determine the ROI of the
registration program. Closing the loop on channel
registrations also improves channel forecasting.
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Forecast Channel Sales Like Direct Sales
in Salesforce
Figure 11: Forecast Channel Sales Using the Same Tools
as Direct Sales in Salesforce
Now that we have automatically closed the loop
on channel partner registrations, we can manage
channel forecasts much like we do direct forecasts
in Salesforce. Salesforce offers a number of tools to
support this effort.
The first step in forecasting the channel is to
forecast run-rate business. Run-rate business is
the ongoing channel sales that are not based on
large, registered opportunities. The best way to
forecast run-rate business is to project channel sales
based on the combination of historic sales trends,
how much has recently been sold, and include a
seasonal adjustment for sales expectations for
the time of year. This is usually a fairly accurate
projection especially as the number of partners and
transactions becomes large.
Open deal registrations are then added to the runrate business to get a complete channel forecast. Just
like with direct sales, opportunities have a probability
to close in the month or quarter expected. Now that
we are automatically closing registrations, we have
visibility into which opportunities are still open. We
can forecast registrations using probabilities for
open unshipped, open partially shipped, and closed
registrations. Figure 11 shows how registrations
based on expected close date, value and probability
can be reported in Salesforce.
After calculating both channel run-rate and
registration forecasts, the sales organization can
combine the channel forecast with their direct
forecast into a unified company forecast, all in
Salesforce.
In Conclusion
Salesforce is the dominant CRM application that
sales organizations use to obtain visibility into direct
account activity, sales opportunities and results. It is
important to leverage that investment and include
channel visibility into the tool that channel and sales
managers are already familiar with and use on a
daily basis. Better visibility into channel partner and
customer sales performance, emerging partners,
warranties, registrations and forecasts gives sales
executives and their management teams real-time
information to make better decisions and truly drive
channel growth.
© Copyright 2011 Channelinsight.
The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for Channelinsight products and services are set forth in the express
warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Channelinsight shall not be
liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.
Created May 2011; Updated October 2013
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