The wide majority of products and services are not actually sold directly by the entity that created them to the people or organizations that consume them. Most businesses rely on what is known as an indirect channel, made up of resellers and distributors, to get their goods and services to market. The challenge they all commonly face is managing those extended relationships as efficiently as possible.
To help make those channels more efficient, Salesforce today unfurled Lightning Partner Community, an enhanced implementation of the partner relationship management (PRM) software that Salesforce delivers as a cloud service that is now being infused with artificial intelligence in the form of the Einstein technology that Salesforce unveiled in September.
Mike Stone, senior vice president of marketing for Salesforce Community Cloud, says Lightning Partner Community represents an entire re-hosting of a PRM application that companies can employ to manage indirect sales channels using AI technology that can help partners identify new opportunities or maximize revenues by bundling various products together in a way that increases the overall size of a specific deal.
The vendor can also employ that same AI technology to figure out which partners make the most efficient use of the marketing dollars allocated to them or have been more consistently successful selling a product than others.
“It gives them a better view of the business,” says Stone.
Obviously, most business have PRM software in place to manage their channels. But most channel relationships are still managed more on gut feel than actual data. The rise of Big Data analytics coupled with AI technologies will turn the management of those indirect channels into more of a science. Just as significantly, Stone says that the amount of staffing required to manage those channels efficiently should be substantially reduced.
Of course, not everyone inside those organizations may be excited by that idea. But the reality is that organizations that leverage AI technologies to sell more products and services are going to eventually overwhelm those that don’t.