What sales partners expect from account managers and how BRM can help
- November 29 2018
- Posted by: Anila Macula
- Category: Blogs
Howaboutsales offers easy to use Business Relationship Management (BRM) software to plan, collaborate and measure indirect sales relationships. We support winning companies, companies of the future who engage in digital collaboration with their customers and intermediaries.
Of course, we also want our software to be as accessible and efficiently as possible for intermediaries as well. We want to support a healthy, mutually beneficial sales relationship between our customers and their intermediaries. After all, the better the relationship between both parties, the more revenue, efficiency and cost benefits both parties gain. Win-win!
To understand what sales intermediaries really value in an indirect sales relationship, we conducted several interviews with experts from renowned companies in the finance and construction industries. This is what we learned…
What sales partners expect from account managers and how BRM can help
1. Sales partners want strategic vision, consulting and dialogue
Apart from some independent intermediaries (e.g. insurance brokers), most sales partners expect at least some degree of strategic vision, consulting and dialogue from the companies they sell goods and services for. Of course, the more both parties depend on one another, the greater the need for a clear strategy and 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 finance intermediaries we interviewed expect headquarters and producers to closely follow market trends and evolutions and respond properly through product and business development.
In construction, distributors expect producers and representatives to really know their products and to think along strategically within their predetermined budgets and options. They also want commercial support. This way, both parties can generate sustainable profit.
- Offer your sales 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 sales partners.
Sales intermediaries want transparency and insight
Because of their mutual dependency, sales partners also want transparency when it comes to business results and operations.
The finance intermediaries we interviewed stated that sheer data reports and numbers are not enough. Intermediaries want to know what those results mean in a broader strategic sense. In return, intermediaries are very loyal and can offer valuable front-line feedback.
Of course, feedback needs to be heard to have some strategic effect and to be able to build a joint strategic framework. That’s why intermediaries greatly value strategic dialogue.
The sales partners we interviewed in construction expect openness, honesty and transparency when it comes to joint projects. If a distributor has fully developed a project, they won’t appreciate it if a producer takes their offer to the competition so they can position themselves better.
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 on the project with another party, they want to be informed as well.
- Provide your partners with the latest business results and reports, but explain the why behind the data and put them in perspective.
- Be open, honest and transparent when it comes to strategic and operational activities and sufficiently inform your partners.
3. Sales intermediaries want common frameworks, systems and interfaces
Especially in finance, intermediaries want a common strategic, commercial and operational framework. If both parties think, sell and operate alike, this will greatly benefit efficiency and effectiveness in general.
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, more efficient interface.
- Offer your partners a strategic, commercial and operational framework.
- Provide your partners with the necessary tools to enable swift collaboration.
4. Sales intermediaries want common frameworks, systems and interfaces
Both the finance as well as the construction sales partners we interviewed greatly value proximity, both in terms of physical distance and communication.
A personal touch really can and will make the difference. All parties explicitly confirm that personal contact strengthens their business relationship and builds 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 and allows for shorter communication lines. After all, time equals money and end-customer happiness.
The finance intermediaries we interviewed also want proactive follow-up, but the extent to which they want this depends on their mutual dependence.
In construction and distribution, on the other hand, proactive follow-up is paramount. Out of sight, out of mind. A representative who only comes by if there is an explicit request will not be consulted often. A representative who frequently presents himself in a non-intrusive manner, on the other hand, asking about problems or reporting opportunities, will be much more successful.
- Communicate with your partners on a personal level.
- Provide short communication lines.
- Follow up proactively – but not intrusively – to stay top-of-mind.
5. Sales intermediaries want availability, reactivity and speedy support
Above all, intermediaries want account managers to be available when and where they need them. This is especially the case in special or problematic circumstances. In finance, this is the number one requirement of the most independent intermediaries we interviewed, partners who are only 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 and all parties want to offer swift and qualitative customer support.
Intermediaries do not like waiting unnecessarily for headquarters or producers to provide the necessary documents, handle their requests and offer support, especially when the customer is panting in their necks.
- Be available to your partners when they need you.
- Respond to their queries and requests and provide speedy support.
6. Sales intermediaries want mutual investments
Indirect sales is a partnership involving mutual investments on many levels in order to achieve sustainable profit.
The construction distributors we interviewed invest 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 expect follow-up, resources and tools to facilitate and “reward” these investments.
In finance, the sales partners we interviewed invest in people and expert trainings, among other things. In turn, they expect some level of campaign preparation and tools like common software to facilitate their operations.
- Invest in your intermediaries
- Provide the necessary tools, training and support to facilitate cooperation and drive results
So, what do partners really expect from account managers?
In order to keep intermediaries happy, headquarters or producers and their 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
Always keep in mind that you are in this together. If your partners are happy, they will work better and drive better sales results.
Howaboutsales… input needed from Howaboutsales
Keep your intermediaries happy and boost your results with BRM
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Written by : Frie Pétré