Sometimes when a situation becomes too tangled or complex, the best way to know which approach to take is to review the fundamentals. Although the fundamentals may seem too basic for professionals in the industry, mistakes occur with channel strategy all the time, which could have been avoided if the fundamentals were given a quick review before the approach was taken.
If you find that you embrace the following tenants throughout your channel programs, then you are definitely on the right track. Embedded within each fundamental are the mistakes that many professionals make with channel management, so be sure to take note of what to do, as well as what not to do while reading the following three strategies.
1. Independent Businesses in your Channel Have Independent Agendas
Each independent business in the channel has an independent agenda, which means that they have much more to worry about than just satisfying vendors. It's illogical to assume that these independent businesses are studying your e-mails or even fully comprehending your programs. In your channel community, it's always more pragmatic to focus on quality over quantity. You will want to make sure that your value proposition lines up with the marketing strategy of your channel programs to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship. One helpful tip is to try to maintain as close of an alignment as possible, since this determines the success of the channel strategy on both ends. Strive to make your programs as comprehensive and easy to administer as possible to ensure efficacy in your channel strategy. Remember to note that your partner relationships are not everlasting, which means that each party should be examined for its benefit to the relationship, or else the relationship itself should be reconsidered.
2. Channels Should be Preferred to Directly Engaging the Consumer
The channel was invented simply because the direct sales model is not practical in any sense. Not only is it more financially consuming to rely on direct customer interaction, but time and effort-consuming as well. In terms of channel management, channel programs should be preferred for these reasons and more. Focusing on channels instead of direct engagements can eliminate channel conflict that many businesses struggle with. If you find yourself in this category, your basic channel strategy system is flawed and should be restructured accordingly.
3. Your Channel Strategy Should be Aligned with the Preferences of the Consumer
To ensure distribution efficiency, you should align the company's channel strategy with the unique purchase preferences of the consumer. These purchasing habits should have a heavy impact on the partners you choose for your channel. You should always look at the purchasing habits from a month-to-month basis, as opposed to annually, since this approach proves to be the most effective for ensuring revenue. They key to success in channel management is adaptation, and with customers changing their purchasing preferences on an almost daily basis, your company has to be caught up with the times to guarantee your success.
You should strive to structure your channel strategy around the competitive advantage your company brings to the table. If you find conflict arising within your channel programs, it may be caused by failing to adhere to these three fundamentals of channel management. Therefore, you should always consult the fundamentals first to avoid this conflict, and ensure that you are progressing your channel programs instead of moving backward.