What business partners expect from account managers and how BRM can help

 

What business partners expect from account managers and how BRM can help

Qollabi offers an easy-to-use Business Relationship Management (BRM) software that businesses can use to plan, collaborate and measure indirect sales relationships. We support successful companies and companies of the future who engage in digital collaboration with their customers and intermediaries.

As much as possible, we want our software to be accessible and efficient for intermediaries. We want to build a healthy, mutually beneficial business relationship with our channel partners. After all, the closer the relationship between both parties, the more efficient, profitable and cost-effective both parties will be. Win-win!

To understand what business partners really value in an indirect sales relationship, we conducted several interviews with experts from renowned companies that sold through resellers, branches, agents and partners. Here’s what we learned…

 

What business partners expect from account managers and how BRM can help

1. Business partners want strategic vision, consulting and dialogue

Apart from some independent intermediaries (e.g. insurance brokers), most business partners expect at least some degree of strategic vision, consulting and dialogue from the companies they sell goods and services to. Of course, the more two parties depend on one another, the greater the need for a clear strategy and short communication lines.

After all, headquarters or producers and their intermediaries are in this together. If headquarters or producers take a specific strategic turn, their intermediaries must follow or at least reorganize. If one party delivers great results, it will reflect on the other, and vice versa.

 

 

The intermediaries we interviewed are financial service providers who expected headquarters to closely follow market trends and evolutions. They also expected proper response through product and business development.

In other industries like construction, distributors expected producers and representatives to really know their products and to think strategically within their predetermined budgets and options. They also wanted commercial support. This way, both parties can generate sustainable profit.

Takeaways:

  •    Offer your business partners strategic vision and commercial support if and when they need it.
  •    Listen to the feedback of your partners and be open to strategic dialogue.
  •    Invest in short communication lines to improve the collaboration with business partners.

How BRM can help

BRM software allows you to make a strategic profile of your your business partner, make a SWOT, define the key benchmarks to compare partners and describe the general vision and focus domains of your business partner.

 

2. Sales intermediaries want transparency and insight

Due to mutual dependency, sales partners want transparency when it comes to business results and operations.

A big part of the interviewed intermediaries stated that sheer data reports and numbers were not enough. They want to know what results mean in a broader strategic sense. In return, business partners must be very loyal and must be able to offer valuable front-line feedback.

Of course, feedback needs to be heard to make a strategic effect and build a joint strategic framework. That’s why intermediaries greatly value strategic dialogue.

 

Most of the business partners in the construction market we interviewed expect openness, honesty and transparency when it comes to joint projects. If a distributor has fully developed a project, they won’t appreciate it when a producer takes their offer to the competition to improve their position.

Moreover, if a producer and distributor collaborate on a joint project, they want producers to defend the project at all costs. If a producer decides to take the project to another party, they want to be informed as well.

Takeaways:

  •  Provide your partners with the latest business results and reports, but explain the reasoning behind the data and put them in perspective.
  • Be open, honest and transparent when it comes to strategic and operational activities then inform your partners.

How BRM can help

BRM helps in two ways to increase transparency.

1. You can establish a joint business plan in the beginning of the year that is accessible for both parties.

2. Once the year begins, you can provide your business partner with updates through the BRM platform. There’s no need to wait for another meeting. BRM allows you to increase the touchpoints with your partner in a digital way, which leads to more trust and transparency.

 

3. Business partners want common frameworks, systems and interfaces

In finance, business partners want a common strategic, commercial and operational framework. If both parties think, sell and operate alike, this will greatly improve efficiency and effectiveness.

In practice, this can be implemented by using the same systems, processes and interfaces. A common customer management system, for example, and a shared formatting system allow for a streamlined and efficient interface.

 

Takeaways:

  •    Offer your partners a strategic, commercial and operational framework.
  •    Provide your partners with the necessary tools to enable swift collaboration.

How BRM can help

Operational excellence is conditional for a trustworthy business relationship. In this digital age, business partners expect principals to have their digital backbone in order.

Fortunately, BRM can help inform your (channel) account manager and your business partner about the most critical paths of your business relationship. Think about how you can integrate the amount of customer complaints or the amount of leads that were not followed from your CRM system. No need to open different data sources or systems. With BRM, you define the most important KPIs to connect with.

 

4. Business partners want proximity, personal communication and proactive follow-up

All the business partners we interviewed greatly valued proximity in terms of physical distance and communication.

A personal touch can really make a difference. All parties explicitly confirmed that personal contact strengthened their business relationship and built trust. “It’s the people who do business, not the boxes.” stated one distributor.

“It’s the people who do business, not the boxes.”

Personal contact also facilitates and humanizes communication. It allows for shorter communication lines. After all, time equals money and end-customer happiness.

Channel partners in financial services declared the need for proactive follow-up, but the extent to which they want this increased for broker type agents (not the tied agents).

In the other industries we interviewed where business partnerships were non-exclusive, proactive follow-up was found to be paramount. Out of sight, out of mind. A representative who only came when there was an explicit request would not be asked for consultations often. On the other hand, a representative who frequently presented himself in a non-intrusive manner and asked about problems or reporting opportunities, was much more successful.

 

Takeaways:

  •    Communicate with your partners on a personal level.
  •    Provide short communication lines.
  •    Follow up proactively – but not intrusively – to stay top-of-mind.

How BRM can help

BRM can help you provide structure with different types of business partners. You will be able to group or segment partners so you can differentiate your service model and approach. For example, you could make a group composed of 80% of your high-performing business partners and implement an effective touch action plan. In this way, BRM will help you stay top of mind within this particular group.

 

5. Business partners want availability, reactivity and speedy support

Intermediaries want account managers to be available when and where they need them. This is especially true during special or problematic circumstances. In finance, it’s the number one requirement of the most independent intermediaries that we interviewed, particularly partners who were tied by broad cooperation agreements.

Efficient reactivity and speedy support, however, are greatly valued by all intermediaries we interviewed. After all, time is of the essence for all parties who want swift and qualitative customer support.

 

Channel partners do not like to wait for headquarters or producers to provide essential documents, handle their requests and offer support. This is especially true when the customer is impatiently waiting.

Takeaways:

  • Be available to your partners when they need you.
  • Respond to their queries and requests and provide speedy support.

How BRM can help

BRM allows you to increase touch points with your partner in a digital way. You can send reports about the status of your partnership. BRM also allows you to prepare your meeting based on a digital agenda and to-do’s. It will help you position yourself as a professional and enable you to prepare for an improved and distinguished partner experience.

If you make the right integrations, BRM will provide you with a one-page overview of the most important KPIs (or issues) you want to follow-up with your partner. BRM will notify you in case some critical KPIs are at risk.

 

6. Business partners want mutual investments

Indirect sales is a partnership that involves mutual investments on many levels in order to achieve a sustainable profit.

The construction distributors we interviewed invested in stock space, financial resources, expert trainings, product launches, marketing and advertising to help producers, as well as clients in the best way possible. In turn, they expected follow-up, resources and tools to facilitate and “reward” these investments.

 

Other sales partners we interviewed (e.g. financial services) invest in people and expert trainings among many others. In turn, they expected some level of campaign preparation and tools like common software to facilitate their operations.

Takeaways:

  • Invest in your intermediaries
  • Provide the necessary tools, training and support to facilitate cooperation and drive results

So, what do partners really expect from channel account managers?

In order to keep channel partners happy, headquarters and their channel account managers need to provide:

  • strategic vision, consulting and dialogue
  • openness, insight and transparency
  • common frameworks, systems and interfaces
  • proximity, personal communication and proactive follow-up
  • availability, reactivity and speedy support
  • mutual investments

Keep in mind that you are in this together. If your partners are happy, they will work better and drive higher sales results.

The buying behaviour of the end customer has changed dramatically in the last decade. As a consequence, most industries intermediaries and headquarters are rationalizing the way they do business together.

 

BRM is made for companies that are searching to build a winning distribution and channel strategy. Winning partnerships includes two parties who are able to establish a long-term strategic relationship with an increased partner experience.

 

In the end, it’s not what you sell but how you sell it. The role of the channel account manager is more critical than ever. BRM helps channel account managers and business partners to build stronger business relationships which lead to improved accountability and commitment.

 

Keep your intermediaries happy and boost your results with BRM

Do you want to plan, collaborate and measure your indirect sales relationships and increase your business results in a thorough, (cost-)efficient and a mutually beneficial way?

Qollabi provides a business relationship management (BRM) platform that helps build stronger business partner relationships. Click here for a free demo.


 

You can also find a video version on our youtube channel “The difference between CRM, PRM and BRM”

 

 

Written by : Frie Pétré



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