<p>In every industry, specifically when it comes to sales, the first thing any salesperson starts with is a prospecting lead.</p><p> </p><h2><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Prospecting Leads</span></h2><p>The customers' buying behavior for products and services has constantly been evolving, especially after the pandemic. The traditional channel marketing or sales starts with meeting a prospecting customer, giving the product information, followed by a quotation, and then closing the deal. However, this has completely changed post-pandemic. </p><p>When the entire world was suffering from the lockdown, businesses were taking a huge hit because the physical proximity of the customers was missing. But thanks to Zoom, Teams, and other digital platforms, the industry could connect with their customers via phone calls and on a real-time basis, which we call a virtual mode. </p><p>While it has been observed that this pandemic caused havoc in certain industries such as automobile, hospitality, and aviation, to name a few, there was a silver lining for one such industry called information and technology. This industry has not only managed to survive the pandemic but also saved other businesses. </p><p>Despite this global crisis, the <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/507365/worldwide-information-technology-industry-by-region/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IT industry</a> reached around 190 billion U.S. dollars in the year 2022-2021 globally, and it is expected to reach around 300 billion U.S. dollars in 2025. These numbers reflect that the IT industry somehow managed to survive during the pandemic while other businesses were shutting down. </p><p>The IT industry has always relied on channel partners and distributors. However, transforming them in the digital world was difficult as adapting the digital media was a struggle due to a drop in the profit margin.</p><p>Customers have always been the king wherein customer experience has always been the top priority for companies which leads to success in the digital world which requires a high level of support and involvement not only from the OEMs but also from the channel partners and the distributor right from getting the lead to the post-sales services. </p><p> </p><h2><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Transformation of the Channel Partners and Distributors</span></h2><p>Even though sales were increasing through these distributors and channel partners, there still needed to be a connection between the IT industry and the customers. Since this industry is as such, which successfully works on a B2B model to have a larger market share, it made little complicated for the OEMs to achieve realistic customer feedback, market intelligence, and insights. For example, in the storage and backup industry, companies need a real-time connection with the consumer insights of the end users. </p><p>Below is the pictorial representation of how channel management works in the IT industry:</p><p> </p><p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://kradminasset.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com/ExpertViews/Atirekpic1.png" width="174" height="741" /></p><p> </p><p>So, to minimize this gap and increase the digitalization of the channel market in order to improve the channel sales and the profit margin for the channel partners, distributors, and the OEMs, below are the strategies and approaches that the channel fraternity can utilize to maximize their market share and increase sales using digital platforms: </p><p> </p><p><strong>Defining the Buyer's Persona</strong></p><p>The buyer's persona will help the companies define their customers as not only the IT industry, which is buying their solutions, but also other industries are associated with it for running their company. For example, certain products in storage cater to SMEs or SMBs. On the other hand, there are certain products that cater to large enterprises. So, companies need to define their buyer's persona.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Defining and Utilizing Customer Journey</strong></p><p>Tracking the customer journey will help the companies to get information on the buying behavior of any customers, which will help not only the OEMs but also the channel fraternity. You will be able to gauge which customer is buying your solution, when they are buying and how their problems are minimized, especially their operational cost. </p><p>This will make the customer's purchase journey hassle-free, and through this, the companies will be able to resolve the queries of the partner fraternity, which will help them to pitch in the solution more easily.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Opening the virtual Centre of Excellence</strong></p><p>Majority of the companies have a physical centre of excellence wherein a prospecting customer can go and feel the physical evidence of the technology which a company is claiming. If this can be a move to a virtual experience wherein a customer can test their IT infrastructure in a virtual mode, this will boost the sales process. </p><p>This will also result in better opportunities to increase the product breadth, and eventually, it will lead to upselling and cross-selling the products by having a customized recommendation through the analytics and customer purchase history. This can eventually be transformed into online digital stores which can offer bundled solutions.</p><p> </p><p><strong>AI and ML</strong></p><p>AI and ML will automate sales operations and processes, resulting in more <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/03/03/five-ways-artificial-intelligence-is-reshaping-enterprise-sales-operations/?sh=7f2cc9306c06" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sales</a> and operations. AI and ML use bots, and the mix of digital marketing will help streamline the processes and increase the customer experience by enhancing their user experience.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Solution Selling</strong></p><p>Most of the companies rely on pitching the product rather than the solution, as a result of which the customer understands and wants to stick to their current vendor. By using and utilizing digital stores or virtual centres of excellence, companies can leverage the data they have from the distributors and channel partners to pitch in the solution rather than a product. </p><p>This can be done using artificial intelligence and data analysis tools to get the exact customer inputs and insights which will eventually help the companies to sell more via product recommendation through artificial intelligence, which will also help you to target a specific market and you can design certain marketing campaigns to target those customers.</p><p>For example, suppose a customer is trying to revamp its entire IT infrastructure wherein they have separate storage from one OEM. In that case, servers from a different OEM, networking products from another OEM, and so on, artificial intelligence using robotic process automation will be able to help and recommend a customer what product to buy.</p><p>It can also suggest whether binding the physical devices is a good idea, or they should go for hyper-converged infrastructure, or whether to buy a cloud solution.</p><p>Digital transformation in the channel fraternity will help, manage and cater to the issues of profit margin, enabling them to have a competitive advantage over the others in the IT market.</p><p> </p><p> </p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><em>This article was contributed by our expert <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/atirek-aanand-63839616/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Atirek Aanand</a></em></span></p><p> </p><p> </p><h3><span style="font-size: 18pt;">Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Atirek Aanand</span></h3><p> </p><h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">1. What are the four main areas of digital transformation?</span></h2><ul><li>Integration of digital technologies and processes</li><li>Customer Experience</li><li>Business Model</li><li>Workforce enablement</li></ul><p> </p><h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">2. What are the gaps in customer experience?</span></h2><ul><li>How do customers perceive a company, meaning the positioning of the process and product are in line with the customer expectations or not?</li><li>Can an organization create value and innovate continuously?</li><li>Customer centricity</li></ul><p> </p><h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">3. How can digital platforms increase sales?</span></h2><ul><li>Devise a strategy and the goal for increasing sales through digital platforms</li><li>Do the cluster and factor analysis and define the customer persona. Which digital channel does your audience concentrate on?</li><li>CTAs should be defined to understand the conversion rates</li><li>A/B Testing for all the strategies which are defined</li><li>Correct use of keywords and content will help in successful email marketing campaigns.</li></ul><p> </p><h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4. What are examples of automated processes?</span></h2><ul><li>Sales Bots</li><li>Lead Enrichment</li><li>Data Analysis</li><li>Syncing the contact data in the tools being used</li><li>Bundled solution</li><li>Based on the trend analysis and purchase history, suggest which solution to pitch in</li></ul><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p>
KR Expert - Atirek Aanand
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