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“Channel Success Managers” – A Need !!! Prevailing Indian Recessionary Scenario

Perspective on “Channel Management” Introspection for Businesses whose Road to End Consumer is through B2B Channels.

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My Cousin from US, SF Bay Area was here.  On being asked her Work Profile; Rohini remarked “Customer Success Manager -CSM”!! Wow, that somehow Stirred up Dozens of Thoughts with regards to Prevailing Indian Industry Scenario!!

A So Called TOUGH ERA

We have entered an Era where words such as “Recession/ Down Turn/ Slump” are fast becoming buzz words. What it literally means that there is a Slow Down of demand from End Consumer in the Market.

In such a scenario; Most Precious Commodity that Companies need to Retain /Take Care of is their 1st Customer i.e.  “Channel Partners”. After all they are the ones who shall help companies to hold on to & service …whatever sales come their way & shall lay the foundation for upturn as & when Good times are back.

Companies need to REMEMBER 

  • Demand Down Turn is Temporary // Channel Partners are Permanent
  • Sales Team is Transitory // Channel Talent is an Everlasting Asset.
  • Sales Team are Facilitators/ / Channel Partners are Extended Arms of Company

Channel Partner is an Inflection Point that defines the Decisive Experience of a “Brand” with “Consumer”.

Indian Scenario (in Majority of Cases )  vis-a-vis Channel Partners (CPs)

We have heard Words – “Customer Service /Toll-Free Number / etc “  - all the initiatives being primarily targeted towards End Consumer !! But how about all important but Mostly Ignored; the  Company’s Arm “ The CHANNEL PARTNER” – who needs to be taken care of even more.

  • Unfortunately; the  Channel Partners (CPs ), for their each & every Aspect, are just left completely  on Mercy of  Sales Team/ Sales Managers  who are somehow in most cases;  just concerned day in & day out about their numbers & are actually fighting for their  own survival  And many-a-times  are in a Tearing Hurry/ Desperation  just to make their Both Ends Meet of Month End/ Year End Numbers; being completely oblivious to  Big Picture. 
  • Ultimately CPs in Most Companies end up being a FOOTBALL being kicked here or there without a SINGLE UNIFYING VISION. They end up being “As good As” & “Purely Dependent on the” Acumen / Approach of Regional/Area Sales Team who many-a-times keep changing Organisation Year after Year.
  • The irony is that sometimes the Valuable CHANNEL PARTNERs who are supposed to be a PERMANENT FIXED RESULT ORIENTED LIFE LONG ASSET of a Company end up getting LOST PERMANENTLY being handled/Maintained by SOMEONEs who have Hardly a Vision of even 1 Year.
  • Trouble Highly Magnifies in the Companies who don’t have a Strong Long Term Vision / Systems & Robust Processes to Appoint the Channel Partners; which is, unfortunately, the case where Companies even with a worth of Turnover of Thousands of Crores can lack clarity on this Aspect.

And sometimes; in some circumstances…. the Front End Fresher of a Company has shockingly the power/license to appoint a Channel Partner even within Half an Hour of Form Filling / Security Formalities; which can happen in a fit of desperation /  or out of Associations Friendships of Tenure of Previous Company.

  • Also, sometimes, where Processes are weak; Sales Managers being occupied in their Sales Pressures/ Targets are Less Concerned about the Channel Partner’s Issues & at times; even tend to make False Commitments to achieve their numbers. In the process; they Keep pushing the said Aspects/ Pendencies under the Carpet upto the time they Move On for New Assignment or Things go beyond control. And Many-a-times; New Sales Team dismisses the Earlier Issues on the pretext of   said aspects being  Old Ones, thereby Leaving Channel Partner in the Lurch;   leading to Credibility Loss to the Company / Bitterness/ Disappointments  & at times Permanent Loss of a Valuable Channel Partner // or His 100%   Loyalty to the Company. 

Need to Re-Invent / Re-Look   !!!!  Need for “CHANNEL SUCCESS” CONCEPT 

So In the Current Indian Scenario; Isn’t there the Need to have a Concept called “Channel  Success Manager ( CSM)”   dedicated solely to CHANNEL PARTNERS  (CPs)  with Their Primary Objectives  to treat them actually as EXTENDED ARMS of COMPANY & to ensure  CHANNEL SUCCESS  just like the Company’s Own?  With few of the Endeavors of CSMs being: 

TO Take Care of Larger Companies Objectives 

  • Right Scrutiny of New CPs being Appointed – to Evaluate their Short + Long Term Sync with Company’s Aspirations /Values/ Financial Requirements etc.
  • To Subsequently Ensure Aligning of Channels’ Vision with Company’s Vision. 
  • Unifying the Channels’ Focus with Company’s Focus of Pushing Value Added Items/ Volumes as the case may be and as required, from time to time. 
  • By Helping CPs to undertake Marketing Initiatives / Demand Generation Steps required to be undertaken in their Territory.  
  • By getting Maintained Right Level of Investments in Commensurate with Lead Times / Logistics/ Market Requirements.
  • By Imparting Right Skills to Channels’ Sales Force   
  • By Getting them to attain Right Infrastructure as per Market’s Requirements.
  • By making them Inclusive Partners in Goal SETTING Process

And To Obviously Take Care of Basic Needs of Channels such as

  • To Keep the Channel Partners’ free of issues such as   – Credit Notes/ Concerns/ Claims. 
  • Real Time Order Tracking / Despatches /Vehicle Status.
  • Enabling New Catalogues / POP / Developments to reach to them etc.
  • Keep Track of their Inventories / Movement of Goods & Updates Sales team on Stuck Up/Slow Moving Inventories & coordinate with Sales Team to liquidate the same.
  • Getting Trade/Scheme Circulars to reach Timely to Them & Making Monthly Scheme Workings Clear. 

With an End Endeavour to win HEART SPACE of Correctly Appointed CHANNEL PARTNER by Creating an Atmosphere of TRUST & SECURITY thereby Building   Everlasting Relationships & Highly Dedicated Channel, totally Focussed on the Cause of Delivering Results & Building Business.

Implementation

  • Toll Free Numbers/ Dedicated CSMs Exclusively Devoted to Channel Partners available atleast 12 Hours x 6 Days so that Channel Partners are not to wait for Company Sales Managers to be free from Never Ending So Called Meetings & Unanswered Calls.
  • Build & Monitor Portals/Apps / Business WhatsApp whereby Channel partners can just Log their Issues/ Requirements & CSMs can monitor the same ensuring DEADLINE BASED Responses / Resolutions.
  • CSMs be Reportable at Head Office Levels rather at Branch Levels so that there is no scope of Arm Twisting ….but no doubt Key Performance Parameters of CSM to be defined in consultation with the SALES TEAM with regards to Market Requirements Specific to the Channel Partner he is dealing with. 
  • Regular One–on-One Meeting may be once a Quarter of CSM with Channel Partner outside the Business Premises to Understand & Communicate Each Other’s Concerns in Right Atmosphere.

CONCLUSION

Once Having Identified & Appointed the RIGHT CHANNEL PARTNERS in Place

Let the CHANNEL SUCCESS MANAGERS Work 

Towards Ensuring the CHANNEL’s   SUCCESS & DELIGHT

thereby in -Process making the Companies completely  “COMPETITION PROOF” & “SECURE” 

atleast from View Point of “RETENTION” of  the Right Channel ++ “Right Interface at Consumer End”

AND

Let the Sales Team  Work 

SINGLE MINDEDLY Only & Only on Market Place being totally Focussed on Demand Generation, Working towards Winning the End Consumers.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Gaurav Aggarwal

The author is B.E., M.B.A Alumnus of Deptt of Chemical Engineering, PU, Chandigarh; MDI Gurgaon Partner at :: “Bharat Distributors”, Pathankot

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