Extended Sales Channels – Part 2

(continued from Extended Sales Channels – Part 1)

Product offerings within each sales channel must be supported with timely and accurate information around pricing, marketing collateral, specifications, and delivery timeframes.  Managing this data in each channel can be time consuming if it is not supported by automation within CRM or through an ISV solution.  For example, if a company decides to raise prices 10% on all of its products within two of its channels, it could be a time intensive process that is prone to data entry error.  But having access to functionality that supports mass updates to product pricing allows the same task to be done accurately and within minutes.  Similarly, managing a product catalog and the rich media needed by sales agents in the channel requires management tools and a supporting content infrastructure.  In addition, dynamic pricing and determining discounts in an intelligent and channel-specific or dealer-specific manner can increase win rates and improve profitability.  Depending on a company’s needs, the Dynamics CRM platform and ISV solutions provide capabilities to support these important functions.

Many companies, especially those in industrial manufacturing, provide varying types of service after the sale.  This may include customer service, warranty work, preventative maintenance, repairs, accessory sales, and replacement parts.  Just as with product offerings, providing service will likely include collaboration with dealers and reps within the channel.  Pricing and provision of service often depends on the channel and skills or capabilities of the original sales agent.  Driving service efficiencies and collaboration requires the platform to be capable of managing service cases, creating work orders, assigning resources, dispatching, and with support for a mobile (in-the-field) application.  Dynamics CRM with the Microsoft FieldOne Sky native solution enables service excellence while effectively managing service resources within the complexity of multiple extended sales channels on a single platform from a single vendor.

Beyond traditional Service offerings, leading companies are now offering IoT (Internet of Things) enabled products that report usage and performance data back to the Dynamics CRM platform.  This data can be used to proactively communicate potential failures, predict replacement part needs, and forecast service work orders; just to name a few amazing benefits.  Insights into future patterns of use and wear-and-tear can save customers costly down-time and lost capacity, allowing their entire channel to benefit from the customer value these intelligent solutions provide.  From predictive analytics to sophisticated machine learning, companies can have visibility into everything from average service task hours and failure rates to scoring customer satisfaction.  CRM data analytics can also transform a company’s part sales from a reactive manual order-taking model to a proactive and automated order placement that significantly contributes to increased revenues.

Critical to enabling a truly collaborative platform that supports extended sales channels is the ability to deploy a self-service portal for external sales agents.  Typically, dealers and reps are independent of the company, outside the IT firewall, and not covered as licensed CRM users.  Self-service dealer portals provide a way to access product data, interact with channel sales activities, review status, or interact with those processes; often without any company staff interaction.  Dynamics CRM provides several ways to deliver portal functionality through a robust API, Microsoft ADX Studio, or with third-party ISV solutions that deliver out-of-the-box functionality.  Portal functionality can support the broad range of channel collaboration from sales to services.  Product information, pricing, selling tools, automated quoting, and marketing collateral can be made more accessible to the channel improving sales effectiveness.  While work order initiation, status, parts, warranty claim, and feedback can also be extended out of CRM via the portal to facilitate service revenue growth and an improved dealer and rep experience.

A final and key benefit of the Dynamics CRM platform’s support of extended sales channels is its ability to provide visibility into channel performance.  At a high level, management of the channel requires insight into channel and sales agent performance.  Dashboard and reports can answer questions such as “Who are the top performers?”, “What products are trending?”, and “What products have the highest win rates?”  Visibility can also include KPIs on each channel’s pipeline, multi-period revenue forecasts, or number of critical service calls.  At a low level, companies can track sales from opportunity to order, monitor service level performance, or view details around a customer’s service calls and purchased equipment.  This is a truly powerful 360 degree view of the channel that can drive down to the individual customer and their products.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a rich and easily extended platform that provides broad functional support for the complex and challenging requirements of managing extended sales channels.  Easily build a CRM channel solution that can drive improved sales, yield greater insights, and deliver a world-class experience.  Transform your business by speeding up sales cycles, increasing channel effectiveness, growing service and parts revenue, while improving customer satisfaction within your extended sales channels.  Beyond CRM, provide seamless integration of your extended channel solution with Outlook, Office365, SharePoint, and Power BI to deliver a comprehensive platform designed to deliver business success.

by mark schindler
mcaConnect – Innovative Solutions. Exceptionally Delivered.
Mark is a CRM/xRM Solutions Architect on the mcaConnect Dynamics CRM team with experience in developing innovative solutions supporting front-office marketing, sales and services processes as xRM solutions on the Dynamics CRM platform for manufacturing and other industries.
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