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ElectricalTrends is a communications vehicle offered to the electrical distribution industry by Allen Ray Associates and Channel Marketing Group. The purpose of ElectricalTrends is to share Allen Ray Associates' and Channel Marketing Group's insights on industry trends, observations on industry activities and issues and offer ideas that may benefit industry participants in their endeavor to improve their businesses in the areas of growth and profitability.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How Well Does the Channel Communicate?

Communication is critical to developing strong relationships. Be it at the local level, to salespeople, from manufacturer "corporate" to distributor "corporate" and more, sharing direction, information, expectations and performance is important to achieving success.  In fact, this is why most companies take on some type of planning process (albeit with the marketing groups representing about 40% of the industry it has devolved to more target account planning).

A recent study by Channelinsights, highlights how the lack of information available to channel sales executives results in loss of revenue and opportunity. The survey, which solicited responses from 112 senior channel sales and marketing executives — all members of the Baptie Channel Focus Community.
While the research focused on the tech industry which has a history of sharing end-user information with suppliers, the findings also have relevance for the electrical industry.  Conversations with electrical manufacturers is that there are more and more focused on vertical markets rather than broad types of electrical distributor customers.  This means that they want to know where (or what type of project) the product is installed.  The more information, the more opportunity to replicate the sale in other venues.
“In any industry, information and insight are keys to success, but when it comes to channel sales, information is at a premium. Without quick, accurate sales data, companies experience lost revenues, overpayments and ineffective incentive programs,” said Mark Geene, CEO of Channelinsight. “Today’s survey results validate the need for greater visibility into channel sales and demonstrate that companies need new tools to help them attain this information.”

The Channelinsight survey also found that while companies know their partners (87 percent can always or usually segment their channel revenue by partner type), they rarely have insight into market segments (54 percent of respondents said they cannot identify partner market segments).
But the key is that conversations start with information ... about each company's direction / vision as well as needs and expectations, the local marketplace (afterall, the economic influences in Houston, TX may be different than national dynamics), major initiatives, resources and action plans.  Follow-up is critical.  Unfortunately the quality of communication is inconsistent within a company let alone within the channel.

So what type of communication do you expect from your manufacturers / distributors? What are the attributes of a good communicator? And whom are some of the industries best, and worst, communicators (companies only - don't want to make this personal)?

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