Manufacturers use channel partners to increase their reach and sales, but quantifying the success of those channel efforts has always been difficult.

The inherent structure of the channel itself is much to blame. With multiple layers of direct resellers, value-added resellers and sub-distributors, trying to get any data — let alone accurate data back to the manufacturers — is a challenge.

Until now, the best channel programs have run on human intuition and experience, but even this can create vague and skewed results.

Part of the problem is that partners don’t have an easy way to submit their point of sale (POS) data. Another issue is that, in most cases, human resources are being used to input and process the data, which leads to incorrect entries and gaps in the overall information.

The Benefits of Automated CDM

Channel data management evolved to improve and expedite the collection and movement of business critical information through the global sales channel. It lets your sales and marketing people learn more about your indirect sales channels such as distributors and reseller networks.

Now Automated Channel Data Management (CDM) solutions are becoming mainstream and can easily be implemented to solve most of the problems with current channel practices. At its core, automated CDM can accurately collect and clean data, augment the data and turn it into useful information for manufacturers.

This information is supplied in near real-time, giving manufacturers the ability to take accurate and timely actions that help grow their businesses.

Let’s take a look at each step to see how automated CDM may help your organization.

Data Collection

Instead of solely relying on people to input and send data to your company, an automated CDM solution can quickly gather the data in any format or file type that is easiest for the partner. This makes it much easier for partners to submit POS data to your company.

Data Cleansing

CDM solutions can accurately fill in missing data and find duplicate entries by using large, proprietary databases, assembled over time, to compare and augment information — and do so in near real-time.

This is crucial as most homegrown CDM solutions and third-party business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions still heavily rely on people for this task, and most do not have the benefit of the historical data store with which to apply enhancement and correction algorithms. Using an automated CDM application that is based mainly on technology also makes the solution consistent, accurate and cost-effective.

Data Consumption

Having timely and accurate data is not enough. It is essential to turn data into information. In order to accomplish this, it must be broken down into easily consumable pieces that can be used by different departments within your company based on their business needs.

Automated CDM solutions take POS data and turn it into useful information, which can then be used to populate downstream systems such as CRM solutions and displayed in a dashboard.

Manufacturers can then see which partners are bringing in the most revenue — breaking down the information by partner, product and region. Marketing can see which campaigns are creating the highest return on investment. Finance has an accurate picture of which partners earned incentives and discounts and can avoid paying duplicate claims.

Insights into Action

The information provided by automated CDM solutions can be segmented and studied from many different angles to give you a clear picture into what is actually happening in your channel. This, in turn, leads to insights that can shape effective business decisions.

  • Are three of your partners creating the majority of your sales? Sales and marketing can now focus more attention on those three partners to help them succeed.
  • Is there a partner that has good sales, but also has a high customer turnover rate? More training might be in order.
  • Is a partner asking for more discounts, but doesn’t have the sales volume to make it worthwhile? You can now clearly see this information and make intelligent business decisions.

Does Automated CDM Work?

Companies that have successfully implemented automated CDM solutions report lower internal operating costs, higher channel sales and fewer overpayments.

Partners benefit as well: Partners that were once apprehensive about sharing data typically make sure manufacturers get the data regularly, and in most cases, automatically.

This is happening because they realize that providing POS data back to manufactures means they get paid sooner and more accurately. In some cases it can also mean better support and training, or greater discounts and incentives.

The channel has always been murky, but with automated CDM solutions, you can get a clearer picture as to what is happening in your channel, giving your company the ability to compete and prosper in any market.