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How a Salesforce.com partner portal gets channel partners on board.

This innovative global manufacturing firm headquartered in Minnesota has revenues of $27 billion and employs 80,000 people worldwide. One of its divisions sells literally thousands of tape and adhesive products and relies on a worldwide network of independent distributors. The division serves nearly 20 major markets though its distributor channel, including construction, electronics, transportation, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage companies.

Given the volume of sales and the scope and complexity of its distribution system, this global manufacturing company has evolved some pretty sophisticated ways to sell. One innovative approach is to encourage major distributors to have channel specialists on their staffs who specialize solely in this company’s gigantic product line and whose exclusive purpose is to sell those products.

These external channel specialists have to stay in close touch with the company’s internal sales channel managers. Trouble is, many of them work within the confines of their employers’ own CRM systems and are poorly integrated—if at all—with the manufacturing firm’s Salesforce.com system. This meant that the manufacturer often lacked visibility into how channel partners were closing on the qualified leads it provided them. For a business unit that relies exclusively on partner sales—partners who sell products from multiple manufacturers—this was no way to run a channel program.

The manufacturer is working with Demand Chain Systems to solve the problem using Salesforce.com to easily build partner relationship management (PRM) portals. DCS quickly created a Salesforce PRM portal that allows channel partner specialists to log on, enter their own leads and opportunities, and get leads and opportunities from the company. The channel specialists also use the portal to manage their pipelines and track deal progress. The company, in turn, can now easily generate reports and metrics on channel partner activity and can effectively gauge how partners perform on qualified lead program— rewarding the good performers and fixing problems with those who are lagging behind.

DCS had the Salesforce.com experience to make a pilot project work quickly and efficiently. In fact, DCS and this client implemented the partner portal and had 10 major distributors trained on it within a month of the initial requirement meetings. Currently, the company is planning more enhancements and gearing up to roll out the portal to 100 more partners. Longer term, the company wants to expand the system to help channel partners manage annual goals, objectives and business plans.

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