Most business think they are customer centered when in reality they are sales centered. Another way of say this is that they are internally focused.
Think about the conversations within your own company. Many are very internally focused. Silos pitted against silos without a real understanding of what the needs or goals of the customer are.
I suspect without exception your sales teams know what’s needed. The handicap is they are often not in the office or –worse – when they are they are perceived as being “unrealistic” about pricing, product requirements or lead-times.
In other words, “why don’t they sell what we have?”
Customers should not get in the way of doing business
How does a company overcome this obstacle? By building an externally focused, customer-facing team to bridge the gap between sales and product marketing. This team is often called Channel Marketing,
Channel Marketing is needs to be the expert, authority and advocate for all the channels of distribution for the company. Through market research, customer interaction, and industry analysis, channel marketers are expected to commercialize sales and marketing programs in the channels, and to identify channel-specific business-building opportunities while working as a co-equal with sales to deliver sales and profit results.
Channel marketers rely on 5 key areas to identify opportunities and build fact-based customer plans
The goal of channel marketing to maximize customer performance with multi-channel marketing strategies, by building the fact-based case for the product assortment and work closely with the sales team to sell the customer. Here’s what should go into your thought process of what is channel marketing in your organization.
Planning/Voice of the Customer
- Develop multi-year Customer Marketing Plans for key accounts
- Channel specific strategies including .com
- Working with the Product Managers understand, identify, quantify and prioritize market opportunities
- Lead the annual Account Planning process
- Identify product and service gaps that are applicable to their channel and communicate those gaps to the product marketing team
- Build and manage a competitive intelligence process
Sales & Customer Intimacy
- Create channel/customer specific programs (special packaging, promotions, events, marketing materials, targeted sampling, flyers, brochures, displays)
- Own all customer planograms (POG) and assortment planning
- Lead the line review process
- Go on key customer visits and sales presentations
- Recommend customer POG/modular using POS (better yet with product line optimization tools or shopper research)
- Create and build all customer meeting presentations
- Develop methodology and analyze performance of POS
- Train team, identify tools and provide regular, consistent reporting and analysis
- Report trends and develop insights by Channel, by Customer, by product category, etc.
- Analyzing and reporting on promotional effectiveness
- Create, maintain and communicate a consolidated Customer Scorecard built from key customer goals/metrics
- Research, develop and deliver compelling sales presentations and promotions to the sales force in order for them to maximize the growth and profitability of the channel
- Is the primary communicator of product news, promotional activities, merchandising updates, etc. to the field sales organization
- Provide field analysis on key trends, competitive activity, and general marketplace activity
- Develop and execute launch plans and marketing strategies for new product introductions / launches
- Provide appropriate specifications to the marketing services team for merchandising tools (displays, samples, literature, etc.)
- Building and managing a trade marketing communication strategy that informs our in-store marketing programs (on- and off-shelf promotions, merchandising and POP)
- Support the Sales and Product Marketing teams in meeting their goals for revenue and profit
- Develop a proposed budget and plan that delivers the targeted sales and margin dollar volume and positioning requirements
Adding channel marketing will better arm your sales team and create greater alignment within your organization. Better yet, it will put the customer at the center of key internal decisions.