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Channel Management Software


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Salesforce.com logo
 
The Salesforce Sales Cloud helps organizations manage their partner network and track finish products from seller to buyer. Sales Cloud offers compensation management, channel marketing, pipeline forecasting and more.
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The Salesforce Sales Cloud helps organizations manage their partner network and track finish products from seller to buyer. Sales Cloud offers compensation management, channel marketing, pipeline forecasting and more.
 
Infusionsoft logo
 
For companies with a focus on e-commerce, Infusionsoft offers a complete CRM solution that helps manage e-commerce processes, as well as the multiple channels involved.
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For companies with a focus on e-commerce, Infusionsoft offers a complete CRM solution that helps manage e-commerce processes, as well as the multiple channels involved.
 
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
 
Base logo
 
Base CRM is a full-featured web-based solution that allows B2B and B2C sales professionals in many industries to work on the go. It features native apps for most mobile devices and a straightforward price structure.
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Base CRM is a full-featured web-based solution that allows B2B and B2C sales professionals in many industries to work on the go. It features native apps for most mobile devices and a straightforward price structure.
 
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

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LeadMaster logo
 
LeadMaster is a complete lead management solution with strong channel management features. Users can manage business opportunities or have channel partners log in and update opportunities as they arise.
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LeadMaster is a complete lead management solution with strong channel management features. Users can manage business opportunities or have channel partners log in and update opportunities as they arise.
 
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
 
BNTouch Mortgage CRM logo
 
BNTouch Mortgage CRM is a solution that is currently integrated with most of the leading industry providers. Designed for the mortgage industry, it offers email marketing, lead distribution and routing and lead capture.
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BNTouch Mortgage CRM is a solution that is currently integrated with most of the leading industry providers. Designed for the mortgage industry, it offers email marketing, lead distribution and routing and lead capture.
 
Maximizer CRM logo
 
Maximizer CRM brings 20 years of customer relationship management to the table with it's solution. Ideal for the SMB, the system is highly flexible and can be customized to for optimal sales automation and channel management.
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Maximizer CRM brings 20 years of customer relationship management to the table with it's solution. Ideal for the SMB, the system is highly flexible and can be customized to for optimal sales automation and channel management.
 
Prophet CRM logo
 
Prophet CRM by Avidian prevents tasks, appointments and emails from falling through the cracks. Help you team better manage relations across every channel with status updates, automated workflow, contact management and more.
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Prophet CRM by Avidian prevents tasks, appointments and emails from falling through the cracks. Help you team better manage relations across every channel with status updates, automated workflow, contact management and more.

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PlanPlus Online logo
 
PlanPlus takes business collaboration and front office management to the online space. This cloud solution has features to increase cross-channel communication, as well as individual productivity across the organization.
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PlanPlus takes business collaboration and front office management to the online space. This cloud solution has features to increase cross-channel communication, as well as individual productivity across the organization.
 
1CRM logo
 
1CRM is an all-in-one software system. By combining traditional CRM features with the ability to track order management, projects, resources, and customer service as well as HR, 1CRM keeps all your data in one convenient location.
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1CRM is an all-in-one software system. By combining traditional CRM features with the ability to track order management, projects, resources, and customer service as well as HR, 1CRM keeps all your data in one convenient location.
 
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
 
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
 
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

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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
 
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
 
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
 
Ascend - Physician Relationship Management System logo
 
MarketWare’s Physician Relationship Management System is a web-based system that helps doctors manage every aspect of physician relations including referral opportunities and email marketing.
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MarketWare’s Physician Relationship Management System is a web-based system that helps doctors manage every aspect of physician relations including referral opportunities and email marketing.
 
Maximizer CRM logo
 
Maximizer CRM Wealth Manager is software that helps Financial Advisors, Insurance Agents, Mortgage and Securities Brokers and other financial services planners streamline their sales, marketing, and management challenges. The system... Read More
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Maximizer CRM Wealth Manager is software that helps Financial Advisors, Insurance Agents, Mortgage and Securities Brokers and other financial services planners streamline their sales, marketing, and management challenges. The system... Read More
 

Buyer's Guide

by Craig Borowski,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: May 31, 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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