In the past, we’ve written about the benefits of using Salesforce Community Cloud to better serve customers. But what about partners? Should your company use the same technology to build better channel sales? We think so — and here are three reasons why:
1. Salesforce Communities give you insight into leads and opportunities.
In a recent presentation about selling with partners, Salesforce Master Solution Engineer Iman Maghroori did a great job conveying both the simplicity and the power of Salesforce Partner Communities. “At the end of the day,” he said, “we’re just talking users. When [a partner] creates an opportunity, it’s just an opportunity — just like when your rep [makes one]. You can forecast on it. If you have a lead and would like to send it to a partner, assign it to them, just like you do [with] your sales team. They are a user in Salesforce. They simply have different permissions.”
What he’s getting at, here, is the fact that communities aren’t separate from Salesforce: They’re just a controlled way for you to provide access to your org. Partners can log in and update their sales information the same way an in-house rep would. From a business perspective, this is huge. As Maghroori noted in his presentation, it prevents channel managers from becoming bottlenecks as sales grow and your company scales. Instead of keeping tabs on the many different ways partners are tracking their sales data, channel managers can spend their time checking for conflicts and approving leads and opportunities.
And then there’s the matter of reporting. If your partners aren’t using Salesforce to store their sales data, generating accurate forecasts and reports can become a headache. Do you try to make sense of disparate data? Or do you task someone with manually compiling reports? The former could lead to inaccurate conclusions, while the latter is always going to be a major time suck. Better to have all the right data in your CRM from the start. That way, you’re not stuck making a choice between two less-than-stellar options.
Now for the bad news (sorry): You might have some trouble convincing certain partners to use the community you create for them. The benefits mentioned above are benefits for your company, after all — not partners. That’s not to say there aren’t also benefits for partners, however. On the contrary, Salesforce is designed to boost user productivity. The problem is, partners might not know that. They could be working with a number of different businesses, and might not see the point in changing how they work for just one of them.
Thankfully, there’s a good way to increase partner community adoption, which we’ll cover at the end of the next section.
2. Salesforce Communities make it easy to manage partner programs and incentives.
Whether you’re working with industrial distributors or big retail chains, it’s common practice to provide incentives or rebates to reward partners for their success. You want to encourage them to keep working with you, right? Money tends to be the best way to do that. The challenge is figuring out the right way to manage your company’s incentive/reward programs.
Here’s why Salesforce Communities might be your best choice:
- Your partners and their sales data are all stored in a single location.
- You can easily run reports showing which partners brought in the most leads, closed the most deals, totaled the most in closed/won, etc.
- Based on those reports, you can rank your partners into different tiers and automatically message them based on their assigned tier, offering them appropriate incentives.
Again, this can help save your channel manager(s) a significant amount of time and stress. They can focus on what really matters: Building and maintaining great relationships.
As a bonus, you can also create an incentive program to reward partners just for logging into the community. Salesforce tracks when and how often a user logs into the platform, so it’s easy to see whether a given partner is using it or not. If they are, you might want to reinforce that behavior. In our experience, it’s an effective to way to boost adoption.
3. Salesforce Communities give partners access to the resources they need.
Of course, managing partner relationships isn’t only about tracking sales data and offering rewards — it’s also about making sure partners have the resources they need to be successful. With a Salesforce community, you can deploy a knowledge base, which is essentially a collection of articles that provide useful information about your company’s offerings. If a partner has a question about the specifications for a given product, they can simply log into the community and search for a relevant article.
This saves your team from needing to field a phone call, and at the same time gives partners their preferred way to find the info they need. According to statistics, web self service is on the rise.
Of course, these are just a few of the ways partner communities can drive better partner sales management. If you’d like to learn more, drop us a line. We’d love to talk in more detail.