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Channel Management Software


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Salesforce.com logo
 
The Salesforce cloud is an on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) suite offering applications for small, midsize and enterprise organizations, with a focus on sales and support. The Salesforce app has capabilities that... Read More
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The Salesforce cloud is an on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) suite offering applications for small, midsize and enterprise organizations, with a focus on sales and support. The Salesforce app has capabilities that... Read More
 
Infusionsoft logo
 
Infusionsoft is a web-based customer relationship management (CRM) software designed for small and midsize businesses to help them build better connections with their customers and generate new leads. The software is equipped with... Read More
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Infusionsoft is a web-based customer relationship management (CRM) software designed for small and midsize businesses to help them build better connections with their customers and generate new leads. The software is equipped with... Read More
 
Base logo
 
Base CRM is the web and mobile-based customer relationship management (CRM) application that allows B2B and B2C sales professionals to manage sales, track leads and engage proactively with customers from anywhere. Base CRM features... Read More
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Base CRM is the web and mobile-based customer relationship management (CRM) application that allows B2B and B2C sales professionals to manage sales, track leads and engage proactively with customers from anywhere. Base CRM features... Read More
 
Less Annoying CRM logo
 
Less Annoying CRM is a customer relationship management solution that caters to the needs of small businesses. It offers cloud-based deployment, various configuration options and a dashboard that provides an overview of contact information,... Read More
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Less Annoying CRM is a customer relationship management solution that caters to the needs of small businesses. It offers cloud-based deployment, various configuration options and a dashboard that provides an overview of contact information,... Read More
 
LeadMaster logo
 
LeadMaster is a SaaS-based all-in-one lead management solution that offers capabilities to capture, track and follow up with leads. The solution comprises of integrated modules for sales force automation, customer relationship management,... Read More
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LeadMaster is a SaaS-based all-in-one lead management solution that offers capabilities to capture, track and follow up with leads. The solution comprises of integrated modules for sales force automation, customer relationship management,... Read More

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BNTouch Mortgage CRM logo
 
BNTouch Mortgage CRM is a mortgage-specific CRM system that offers mortgage brokers and bankers alike a solution featuring marketing automation capabilities. The software offers features for each step of the mortgage process, from... Read More
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BNTouch Mortgage CRM is a mortgage-specific CRM system that offers mortgage brokers and bankers alike a solution featuring marketing automation capabilities. The software offers features for each step of the mortgage process, from... Read More
 
SalesOutlook CRM logo
 
SalesOutlook CRM is a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing system that embeds into Microsoft Outlook. SalesOutlook CRM automatically syncs all customer data at one place. All files and email correspondence... Read More
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SalesOutlook CRM is a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing system that embeds into Microsoft Outlook. SalesOutlook CRM automatically syncs all customer data at one place. All files and email correspondence... Read More
 
PlanPlus Online logo
 
PlanPlus Online uses the Franklin Covey business planning methodology to help organizations and professionals in real estate, insurance and finance sectors manage both time and customers. The system provides an all-in-one solution... Read More
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PlanPlus Online uses the Franklin Covey business planning methodology to help organizations and professionals in real estate, insurance and finance sectors manage both time and customers. The system provides an all-in-one solution... Read More
 
HaystackCRM logo
 
HaystackCRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management tool for small and midsize businesses that features dedicated mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. HaystackCRM also offers email integration, geolocation of clients,... Read More
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HaystackCRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management tool for small and midsize businesses that features dedicated mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. HaystackCRM also offers email integration, geolocation of clients,... Read More
 
Vivantio Pro logo
 
Vivantio is a service management system that allows users to create a personalized solution that aligns with internal business processes. Key features of the software include dashboards, charts, and reports, routing and assignments,... Read More
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Vivantio is a service management system that allows users to create a personalized solution that aligns with internal business processes. Key features of the software include dashboards, charts, and reports, routing and assignments,... Read More

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Prophet CRM logo
 
Prophet CRM from Avidian is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) application that can be integrated with Microsoft Outlook for extending Outlook's functionalities. The solution enables multiple sales teams to unify... Read More
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Prophet CRM from Avidian is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) application that can be integrated with Microsoft Outlook for extending Outlook's functionalities. The solution enables multiple sales teams to unify... Read More
 
Maximizer CRM logo
 
Maximizer CRM is an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) solution suitable for organizations of all sizes. This system can be installed on both on-premise and in the cloud. Maximizer CRM features sales management, marketing... Read More
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Maximizer CRM is an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) solution suitable for organizations of all sizes. This system can be installed on both on-premise and in the cloud. Maximizer CRM features sales management, marketing... Read More
 
Pipedrive logo
 
Pipedrive is a web-based Sales CRM and pipeline management solution that enables businesses to plan their sales activities and monitor deals. Built using activity-based selling methodology, Pipedrive streamlines every action involved... Read More
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Pipedrive is a web-based Sales CRM and pipeline management solution that enables businesses to plan their sales activities and monitor deals. Built using activity-based selling methodology, Pipedrive streamlines every action involved... Read More
 
Logicbox CRM logo
 
Logicbox is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution that is suitable for small to midsize businesses in a variety of industries. It offers a suite of standard CRM functions that can be configured to incorporate... Read More
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Logicbox is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution that is suitable for small to midsize businesses in a variety of industries. It offers a suite of standard CRM functions that can be configured to incorporate... Read More
 
Canary AMS logo
 
Catering to insurance agencies and agents, TechCanary delivers advanced software solutions that address the industry’s specific needs. Their core product, Canary AMS, is more than an Agency Management System (AMS), it also has a... Read More
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Catering to insurance agencies and agents, TechCanary delivers advanced software solutions that address the industry’s specific needs. Their core product, Canary AMS, is more than an Agency Management System (AMS), it also has a... Read More

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PhaseWare Tracker logo
 
PhaseWare Tracker is a customer support and help desk solution. It automatically notifies users whenever clients report or escalate existing issues. Applications for help desk and customer service can be supplemented with a web self-service... Read More
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PhaseWare Tracker is a customer support and help desk solution. It automatically notifies users whenever clients report or escalate existing issues. Applications for help desk and customer service can be supplemented with a web self-service... Read More
 
Ascend - Physician Relationship Management System logo
 
Ascend is a physician relationship management application that helps healthcare organizations grow and discover new referral volume opportunities. The application combines physician profiles with business intelligence data and offers... Read More
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Ascend is a physician relationship management application that helps healthcare organizations grow and discover new referral volume opportunities. The application combines physician profiles with business intelligence data and offers... Read More
 
Membrain logo
 
Membrain by Upstream offers a sales automation platform with CRM functionality. The system provides pipeline management, prospecting, lead scoring, sales analytics and content management functionality. Membrain users can define buyer-aligned... Read More
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Membrain by Upstream offers a sales automation platform with CRM functionality. The system provides pipeline management, prospecting, lead scoring, sales analytics and content management functionality. Membrain users can define buyer-aligned... Read More
 
Socious Online Community logo
 
Socious is a leading provider of private online community software, and is perfect for mid-sized and enterprise-level businesses, user groups, and nonprofit organizations. Founded in 2002, Socious began by primarily serving technology... Read More
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Socious is a leading provider of private online community software, and is perfect for mid-sized and enterprise-level businesses, user groups, and nonprofit organizations. Founded in 2002, Socious began by primarily serving technology... Read More
 
Microsoft Dynamics 365 logo
 
Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides integrated solutions that allow businesses to better track leads, automate field service, drive sales, and improve operations using mobile, enterprise-ready business apps from the cloud. The system’s... Read More
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Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides integrated solutions that allow businesses to better track leads, automate field service, drive sales, and improve operations using mobile, enterprise-ready business apps from the cloud. The system’s... Read More
 

Buyer's Guide

by Craig Borowski,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: August 8, 2017


Even in these days of Internet disintermediation, it is unusual for manufacturers to sell directly to end customers. Instead, products are sold through a complex web of distributors, wholesalers and retailers, with value-added retailers (VARs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) thrown into the mix. To manage all of these sales channels, companies use channel management software. We wrote this buyer’s guide to help buyers untangle this market’s web of solutions and conduct a proper system comparison.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Channel Management Software?
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Benefits and Potential Issues
Market Trends You Should Understand
The Vendor Landscape

What Is Channel Management Software?

Channel management (CM) software, also known as partner relationship management software (or just PRM software), tracks goods and services from the seller to the ultimate consumer. These programs are valuable for automating sales and marketing processes through indirect company channels. One might think of channel management as sales force automation (SFA) for OEM and VAR channels. 

CM functions include partner recruiting; partner lifecycle, channel sales, territory, leads, order and account management; compensation planning; channel marketing; activity tracking; pipeline forecasting; and product configuration. Most systems will include partner tools that give visibility from the partners into the system. More advanced systems will also track cooperative advertising dollars and compliance. 

In keeping with classic supply chain design, the supplier firm (the upstream partner) and the customer firm (the downstream partner) should have systems that interact. This integration allows orders, inventory and other information to be passed securely between the partners as necessary.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Manufacturer buyer. These buyers work with firms that make goods to sell. These buyers need collateral distribution and partner and order management.

Distributor buyer. These buyers work for distributors and very large retailers. They need order management, price customization and shipping prioritization.

Wholesale and retail channel buyers. These buyers work for whole seller and regional retailer firms or retailer cooperatives. These buyers need strong integration with accounting to track dealer accounts, collateral distribution and marketing co-op tracking.

OEM/VAR channel buyers. These buyers work for firms that sell to OEMs and VARs. These buyers are seeking product branding, collateral customization, special order processing and accounting integration.

Benefits and Potential Issues

Increased customer satisfaction. There actually may be several sets of customers satisfied throughout the chain. Ultimately, it is the final consumer that matters most to the manufacturer, but it is rare that the consumer is the manufacturer’s customer. Partner management software gives each step in the channel increased visibility into the whole process.

Recall management. Should a product need to be recalled, CM gets the word to downstream partners quickly. Fast, decisive action can limit damage and minimize bad publicity.

Better inventory analysis and reporting. CM allows inventory levels to be maintained at optimum levels. Orders can be triggered manually or automatically, but in either case CM can measure downstream partners’ inventory trends and let the supplier more accurately project required inventory levels and manufacturing requirements.

Better account management. CM systems consolidate partner information, giving reps insight to increase sales and customer satisfaction at the same time. For example, when a VAR calls in an order, the rep can check to see if the customer is close to price breaks or order levels to trip co-op advertising budgets.

There are dangers in this level of integration: problems can propagate through the system. The Wall Street Journal reported, for example, that Amazon listed the book The Making of a Fly by Peter Lawrence for $23,698,655.93, plus $3.99 for shipping. Used copies were available for $35.54. The problem? Amazon has two channel partners that provide pricing information and in this case, the computer algorithms used by the two partners were competing against each other and raising the price in a loop.

Market Trends to Understand

  • Consolidation with CRM. Most channel management functions are being integrated into CRM and SFM systems or are included within the CRM applications from enterprise suite vendors. Stand alone channel management systems are increasingly rare, although CRM and SFM systems could be used for stand alone channel management if desired.
  • Software as a service. As with CRM in general, there is a strong move toward the software as a service (SaaS) model. A cloud-based model allows all partners to access appropriate information as long as they have access to a Web browser and the Internet.
  • Web integration. Even premises-based providers offer Web access to partners. This way downstream partners can check their accounts, check order status, place orders and track co-op account funds.
  • Mobile operations. Most channel management systems can be accessed by mobile devices and can provide email alerts as well as text message alerts.
  • Automatic ordering. If both partners have compatible systems, one advantage is automatic order placement, or vendor-management inventory. For example, as a retail store sells a particular model of television set, its inventory system tracks the quantity on hand. When that quantity falls below a certain threshold, the inventory system will automatically place an order with the supplier by interfacing to the supplier’s channel management system.

The Vendor Landscape

This type of buyer... Should evaluate these systems
Manufacturer buyer SAP, Oracle, GoldMine, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce
Distributor buyer SAP, Oracle, GoldMine, SugarCRM
Wholesale and retail channel buyer GoldMine, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Sage ACT!, InfusionSoft
OEM/VAR channel buyer SugarCRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce

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