Yesterday, I had the pleasure to speak at the third annual IQPC Channel Management Summit in San Jose (see presentation below). The topic: “Social Media in indirect sales. In accordance to the world trade organization (WTO) over 75% of all trade is done through any kind of independent sales channels. You won’t buy a car directly from a car manufacturer, most tech products are sold through resellers and VARs, most insurance policies are sold through brokers, most food is sold through independent stores, most consumer goods and most everything (75%) is sold through an independent channel organization.
The challenge: If a companies channel partners are not present where customers form their educated purchased decision, not only the partner but also the vendor looses influence and potentially business.
A lengthy discussion after the 30 minute presentation surfaced a lot of issues in regards to openness and what partner managers can do to institute new programs and inspiring models to engage. One chart (made with tweetVolume shows an interesting twist on channels at the example of Acer Computers: Acer goes exclusively through channels and has a huge potential for partner enablement, amplifying recommendations.
The conclusion we kind of drew at the end was this:
If a vendor is able to empower and mobilize their respective channel, not only they get a huge leverage in the social web but they also occupy a partner’s communication power early on and use this as a competitive measure in their respective industry.
Partner more engaged than vendors know
Social Media for channels is still a rather unexplored field. The two training classes we did for EMC and Qwest earlier this year with roughly 300 companies participating, demonstrated that channel partners are very receptive and interested in leveraging social media – and to the surprise of many vendors – are already present.