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Live Chat 7/24: Effective Channel Management

93 comments on “Live Chat 7/24: Effective Channel Management

  1. Rodney Brown
    July 21, 2014

    Rich, it will be a short book, with chapters no longer than 1-2 paragraphs, written in about 30 minutes. 🙂

  2. RevitasTom
    July 22, 2014

    We're looking forward to writing the short story version

  3. Daniel
    July 24, 2014

    Another50 minutes to go for this interesting section

  4. Daniel
    July 24, 2014

    Hi everyone

  5. Daniel
    July 24, 2014

    Hope I can attend

  6. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Howdy Jacob, I hope you can attend as well.

  7. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    Looking forward to our chat at 2pm!

     

  8. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Howdy Joe, so am i!

  9. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    If I stop responding to questions, it might be because I have succumbed to the tar fumes, as they are resurfacing the street right next to my 2nd floor office. /cough, cough/

  10. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    We are ready to rock and roll.

  11. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Howdy Tom, glad to see both guests are here.

  12. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    So, we just have to throw this out there: the opinions expressed by Joe and myself are just that, our opinions.

    Also, I may look like an attorney, but I am in fact never had any legal training. So, please do not take any of our statements as any type of legal advice.

  13. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    You know, that should be a default opener for all of our live chats. I might just have to steal that.

  14. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    OK, Tom and Joe, why don't we start with a Twitter-sized intro to Revitas as our guests start coming in.

  15. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    Revitas is the industry leader in helping organizations manage complex channel, revenue, contract, and compliance challenges

  16. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    Is that 140 characters?

  17. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    At the highest level – Revitas helps organizations optimize contract processes and validate contract terms.

     

  18. Jamescon
    July 24, 2014

    good afternoon

     

  19. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    LOL, probably close enough. 🙂 Tom, how does Revitas achieve that management? Installed software products? Consulting services? A mix?

  20. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    Hi Jim…welcome!

     

  21. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Howdy JimC. Just in time, we are just geting rolling.

  22. Jamescon
    July 24, 2014

    I'm curious how channel management has changed given the evolution of technology and business models over the past, say, 5 years

  23. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney Revitas is a software based solution. If you think conceptually the Revitas solution sits between the ERP and the CRM and on top of the metadata with an analytic component tying it all together

  24. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Good question JimC.

  25. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @JimC One of the changes we have seen is a move towards the 'lean' methodology. There has been an increased focus in the last 5 years and it has expanded to a lot of different silos within the organization. Channel no impacts lean accounting, lean IT, and other areas of the organization.

  26. Kim Davis
    July 24, 2014

    It would be good to hear about a couple of the main challenges facing channel management today.

  27. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Also, when I was working up the description, this stat really caught my attention – 1 to 9% of revenue can be lost through the mismanaging of contracts. Where and/or how is that money lost?

  28. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    Now not no*

  29. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Howdy Kim. Another good question. The channel must have some common pain points.

  30. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @ Kim  The challenges are spread across the organization.  From inefficient incentives, to poor partner engagement, through over and under payments.  This puts your organization at risk for giving away portions of your hard earned revenue.

     

  31. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney That stat is from IACCM (International Association for Contract and Commercial Management) and study they did. At a high level, one of the major challenges is managing all of the complexities in the channel (e.g. chargebacks, rebates, multi-tier incentives). Most of the time this is done in a very manual fashion. Organizations use spreadsheets, which tend to be error prone, to manually manage the processes. 

  32. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    @Tom, but has the move toward lean methods also added some complexity? What if different partners are using different tools to achieve lean operations? Doesn't that hurt the overall integration of the channel?

  33. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @Kim – The challenges compound over time, and grow exponentially when put together.

  34. Jamescon
    July 24, 2014

    What are the key mistakes that you see in contracts? And, do you see the mistakes made by both halves of the partnership (supplier and channel partner)?

  35. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney We don't think so. Ideally 'lean' works towards incorporating the most efficient methodologies to reduce waste. There is actually a synergy with the partners. One example we have seen is in the semimconductor space. Instead of the ususal supply chain, they have a 'supply tunnel' that allows greater visibility into the entire system.

  36. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    I dunno @Tom, I know of a gaming company that ran an entire online multiplayer world on spreadsheets. 🙂 Of course, that was back in the early 2000s.

  37. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Beat me to it JimC with the contract question.

  38. Kim Davis
    July 24, 2014

    I can't imagine a business which wants to have real visibility into its operations, and respond promptly to partners and customers, using spreadsheets.  But I guess I'm wrong.

  39. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @JimC.  There are a number of mistakes that happen throughout the contracting process.  Just to name a few:  Unapproved legal terms making their way into contracts, poor approval workflows, lack of audit trails, and finally no post signature follow-up of milestones and events.

  40. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @Kim – Unforunately, there are a number of Fortune 500 organizations that I've come across that were managing hundreds of millions of dollars in manual spreadsheets (I won't however be telling you who :))

  41. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    @Joe, audit trials, huh? That gets me wondering, what kind of compliance-related issues are there around channel management?

  42. Kim Davis
    July 24, 2014

    I can see that automating channel management is a good idea, but how do you do QA?  How do you get enough human visibility into whether management is working?

  43. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney. The first one that comes to mind is Sarbanes-Oxley. Most of the time the spreadsheets are located in a shared drive. There is no change control and that results in a violation

  44. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    You can drop names, @Joe, really. It's not like I am a journalist or anything (oh, wait…)

  45. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney – From a compliance perspective there are a number of regulations, from government regulations (i.e. Sarbanes-Oxley) to industry specific regulations based on what your organization does (i'm thinking Life Sciences, CPG, Manufacturing and even High Tech).

  46. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney – I could tell you but then I would have to…well you know!

     

  47. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @Kim I don't think a set it and forget it methodology is a good one. Even automated assembly plants have human oversight. Ideally, an automated solution will have process workflow built in. This would allow for checks, balances, milestone markers, etc. that need human interaction. Also, having an analytics component that allows deep dive analysis is critical 

  48. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    OK, gentlemen, without getting too sales pitchy, how does a solution like Revitas' make that channel work more efficiently? What are the key ingredients?

  49. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    🙂 OK @Joe, no problem, I'm still to young to risk it even at 54.

  50. Jamescon
    July 24, 2014

    Ah, the infamous “shared drive” where everything is kept and nothing good is found. Are you able to better lock down and track things?

  51. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney – I'll put on half my sales hat — For the channel, Revitas eliminates over and underpayments on incentives and increases productivity in channel operations

  52. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney – this can save organizations anywhere from 1-10% of total incentive program spend.

  53. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @JimC The ideal solution would indeed keep have change control. It avoids rogue contracting, keeps legal language intact (until the proper authorities are notified), and sets a compete process workflow

  54. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    @JimC, that's a good question and ties in to mine — how does Revitas or its like handle security and compliance?

  55. Ashu001
    July 24, 2014

    Hi folks! What did I miss?

  56. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @tech4people A lot! (and welcome)

  57. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    So @Joe, the incentive control piece seems straighforward, but how does it increase productivity in the channel?

  58. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Howdy tech4people! We still have about 10 minutes, so catch up and jump right in!

  59. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney – Increases in productivity happen through the streamlining of contracting processes and partner on-boarding.  Imagine getting your partners on board faster and more effectively.  That gets them selling faster and ultimately drives more revenue!

  60. Ashu001
    July 24, 2014

    @Tom-With respect to your Lean Management answer-

    One of the changes we have seen is a move towards the 'lean' methodology. There has been an increased focus in the last 5 years and it has expanded to a lot of different silos within the organization. Channel no impacts lean accounting, lean IT, and other areas of the organization.

     

    I was wondering if Its possible to do this without firing folks?

  61. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney 1 – 10% is about right. Let me give you an example (with some rough numbers as not to expose the guilty). There was an organization that was giving a robust discount to one of its partners. Let's say it was 10% when they bought 10,000 units. That partner took that healthy discount and then returned 9,000 of them to a different geo and no one ever caught it. We like to think that most organizations aren't that dishonest and the mistakes are through honest error, but these things happen

  62. Kim Davis
    July 24, 2014

    Does a Revitas-type solution need to be customized to the vertical, or even to the specific business, or is it operating at a higher level of generality?

  63. Ashu001
    July 24, 2014

    @Joe-Absolutely right! Selling faster and more effectively is the key here.

    Where does Cross-selling and Upselling figure here?

  64. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @tech4people Absolutely 100%. Chances are people aren't focusing on their core competencies. Going the 'lean' route allows people to actually get back to their day job

  65. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Great question in light of the recent Microsoft news @tech4people.

  66. Ashu001
    July 24, 2014

    @Tom-Your organization was extremely-extremely smart! No doubt about it.LOL!

  67. Ashu001
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney-I just feel MSFT is the smart of another Nasty Layoffs season coming up.This time it will be Global.

  68. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @Kim I'm going to give you the worst answer: it depends. However, I will say that for any software solution there will be some level of customization 

  69. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    @Tom, in that example on has to assume it was error, otherwise there would be no incentive to change it if it was discovered.

  70. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @tech4People – cross sell and upsell is a natural progression of optimizing processes.  If you have visibility into partner performance you can see when and where you can cross and upsell

     

  71. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    @tech4people, I can't say you are wrong, but I can hope it.

  72. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    @Tom and @Joe, can you hang on until about 2:40?

  73. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney, For the manufacturer it was absolutely an error oon their part. It's a common issue of organizations being far too siloed in nature to manage complex channel agreements. The partner, however, was gaming the system because they knew the different geos didn't communicate well

  74. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney – sure thing…I'll hang for a few more…enjoying the conversation!

     

  75. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney I can hang on for ten more

  76. Ashu001
    July 24, 2014

    @Joe-But does'nt that kind of visibility mean you trust your partners implicitly? Lets look at the Target data breach as a test case.It clearly demonstrates that we can't expect the same level of Systems and Processes across Partners and contractors everywhere and all across the Supply Chain.

  77. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    In case anyone has any follow up that we don't answer, please feel free to contact me: thowell@revitasinc.com

  78. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Excellent. So I might have jumped the gun on some of these questions — how do you determine just how effective your current channel operations are? I assume you need to know the scope of your problem before trying to fix it.

  79. Kim Davis
    July 24, 2014

    @Joe, I had thought we were discussing an inward looking solution, but you mentioned better visibility into partners' operations. How come?

  80. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    That might be not the best example @tech4people — when the top of the channel clearly doesn't care what its partners are telling it, no amount of management would help, I imagine.

  81. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @Tech4 – Partner trust is something that must be earned.  I've found the best partners are the one's where you have open, honest, and frequent communication.  These relationships are built over time.  But good contracts always have “audit” clauses where even the best partners can be held accountable

  82. Ashu001
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney-I agree but I am hoping you get the idea what I was alluding to here.

  83. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney It's funny that you mention that. When I talk to organizations and I mention the 1 – 10% revenue leakage and the response is almost always, “Oh, I totally believe that”. They just happen to see as a cost of doing business because they don't know there is a better way to go about their business 

  84. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Absolutely, @tech4people. And it does apply perfectly in the situation you are asking about – trustworthy channel partners.

  85. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Wow, @Tom. Not even retail is happy with 10% revenue leakage and they deal with theft every day.

  86. Ashu001
    July 24, 2014

    @Tom-Is it that they don't know or they Don't believe its worth the Time & Expense (to after that 10% cost you are stating here)?

  87. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    @tech4people It seems that they don't realize that there is a better way to initiate the business. I had one organization who was working on razor thin margins and if they could reclaim 2% is would have been huge for their business. They were managing their chargebacks on actual physical paper. I wish I was kidding…

  88. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Tom and Joe, we have reached the limits of what I told you to expect for time. Thank you very much for being our guests today!

  89. Jamescon
    July 24, 2014

    Thanks guys

  90. Ashu001
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney-With retail the losses usually can be much-much higher.

  91. Joe Alphonse
    July 24, 2014

    @Rodney…wow time flies!  Thanks so much for the opportunity! 

  92. RevitasTom
    July 24, 2014

    It has been great. Thank you, everyone for your time and questions. Again, if any other questions come up please feel free to e-mail me: thowell@revitasinc.com

  93. Rodney Brown
    July 24, 2014

    Have a good day everyone! Thank you all for joining us!

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