Manage and track relationships in Salesforce for companies doing indirect selling.

For companies who do indirect selling, like influencing there partners who can be insurance agents, hospitals, doctors etc, the challenge is how to use salesforce effectively to manage the relationship with the partners and measure the effectiveness of there relationship. Salesforce crm works great in managing B2B or B2C sales where the opportunity object becomes a pivot to track the sales revenue. Now if you have a legacy system like an order entry system or hospital system in place where your sales data is captured, the only data which would be of value to you would be the source of the referral and this can be used to tie to the right account or partner who influenced the sale. So to measure the effectiveness of the relationship in salesforce crm, here are a few steps which you can do and realize the maximum benefit.
1. Define and categorize your partner and relationship levels.
2. Integrate or Update the sales orders from these partners on a periodic basis.
3. Identify key tasks and activities which influence your relationship.

Define and categorize your partner and relationship levels.
Before we get to tracking the data in salesforce, it is important to categorize your partner accounts into various levels which would help you to get more visibility in Salesforce. Now there are proven sales models which help to categorize the relationship of the partner accounts. If you are unsure about this, here are some pointers to think about on this.
a. Repeat Influencer – These are partners who have already sending orders to you and have a lot of repeat orders per month, quarter or year.
b. New Influencer – These are new partners whom you are trying to establish a relationship with and trying to get orders.
c. Tier Influencer – Based on the revenue returned, you can categorize your partners into high, low and medium revenue partners.
d. Market share – If your partners deal with your competition as well, you can track the total orders these partners send in a month and your company share of the orders. This would help to track the market share of money on the table for the future.

Integrate or Update the sales orders from these partners on a periodic basis

Without the order amount captured in salesforce, there will be no way to easily track the ROI of these partners. So if your current orders are tracked in a legacy order management system or hospital system, the orders would need to be integrated with salesforce real time so that it will help to track the revenue quickly. The partner and order data should be integrated real time or in a batch mode where the data is updated in salesforce every day.
The simplest way to track would be closed won opportunities with amounts if the order is simple. If you want to track on the product level, products can also be integrated with salesforce. I have seen a lot of insurance companies and hospitals doing the revenue reconciliation every 3 months or a year which would completely undermine the ROI of returns in salesforce. So it is important to get the integration established in salesforce.

Identify key tasks and activities which influence your relationship
The last piece of the puzzle is tracking the activities done by salesreps on these partners like phone calls, appointments and other tasks. Now lot of organizations capture a lot of tasks, notes on the partners which is great but there is no insight on what the value of those activities are. So to track the effectiveness of your salesrep relationship, the following guidelines would help.
a. Updating upcoming budget amounts on future and current opportunities in salesforce.
b. Competition insight update in salesforce like opportunities won by the competition, differentiators and win ratio would help to position on next upcoming opportunities.
c. Number of visits, web visits on key marketing campaigns could be used to gauge the level of influence of your salesrep with the partner.
So with this simple 3 step process, companies can easily track the effectiveness of there partner relationship and increase there sales using salesforce . Please feel free to comment your thoughts or email me directly at buyan47@gmail.com for further help or questions.

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