Contact us
Back to blog

4 Steps to Creating a Connected Channel Experience

14 Apr 2022

In order for built world companies to be successful, they need to have a channel experience that is connected. Built world companies need to connect the dots for reps, distributors, builders, architects, and commercial or residential customers. 

Unfortunately, today there is a huge disconnect in the channel, leading to frustration. This disconnect is evident by the fact that reps and distributors do not understand the value proposition of the products. 

The builders and contractors do not have a clear understanding of the application(s) of the product. Engineers and architects do not know how, when, or why they should specify certain products. And, the ultimate disconnect is that consumers are unaware of products that could better fit their needs. 

Let’s illustrate the channel disconnect. We live in a highly digital world where everything we do is centered around technology. Yet, most builders are still crafting homes that are not tech-enabled. Most consumers are not even aware of the amount of tech-enabled products that are available. 

If a builder isn’t building a home that is tech-ready, then consumers end up spending tens of thousands of dollars to retrofit their homes with smart technologies. This is just one of the more obvious disconnects. Some readers may argue that it is a broad and unfair assumption, that many homes are being built smart. However, the majority of the industry remains top-down – a “you will get what I give you” mentality. 

Why There Is a Disconnect in the Channel

The reason for this disconnect in the Built World industry is that many companies struggle to see the forest for the trees. It is a problem that centers on leaders not understanding the Built World ecosystem and how it impacts revenue. 

As a whole, most Built World companies are focused on the wrong customer, their direct customer purchasing the product. Whereas the most productive approach would be to zero in on their customer’s customers and their customer’s customer’s customers. 

No, that isn’t a type – Built World products are sold through a complex ecosystem filled with many influencers. Therefore, Built World companies who want their products/services to become the preferred brand need to ensure that everyone in the ecosystem has the information to make informed buying decisions. 

Misalignment between the manufacturer, the distributor, and the builder leads to a bad experience for consumers. The disconnect was spotlighted during the pandemic when everyone was forced to buy and sell digitally. The past couple of years have proved conclusively that the industry was ready for more technology to facilitate a digital buyer’s journey. 

The digital buyer’s journey is more than just having sales calls via Zoom. The digital buyer’s journey involves the enablement of everyone in the ecosystem. Part of that enablement is the channel having the right content to influence each buying phase. 

When selling through the channel, it is important to remember that everyone goes through each phase of the buyer’s journey, meaning that the end consumer navigates through the awareness, consideration, and decision phases and are often influenced by a builder, architect, or engineer. The builder, architect, and engineer also navigate through the buyer’s journey. But what about the direct customers? This is where it gets interesting. 

The Problem Coming for Built World Companies

Built World companies have relied on established relationships for decades. Year after year, Built World companies go back to these customers and ask for the order. The awareness, consideration, and decisions were made long ago. 

With the pandemic, demand went up and supply went down. This forced many Built World companies to sever relationships with many of their customers. Very few Built World companies suffered; most reputable companies have been sold out of products through 2022.

The problem is yet to come. In the near future, when the market corrects itself and Built World companies have to sell again. The relationship they dismissed or didn’t nurture has moved on and begun their buyer’s journey again.  

They are aware of new vendors, they are considering new vendors, and they will decide to purchase from new vendors. This, coupled with the emergence of many new entrants taking a new approach to products has made the Built World industry prime for disruption. To stay relevant, Built World companies must leverage community, content, and technology to create a connected channel experience. 

Four Steps to Creating a Connected Channel Experience

  • Recruit
  • Engage
  • Guide
  • Grow

Recruit: Built World companies must find and sign the right partners to connect with and recruit into their channel. This includes not only identifying and qualifying the right distributors, but also the right builders, architects, and influencers.

Engage: Built World companies need to keep everyone in the channel ecosystem engaged. They can do this by actively communicating with them and others in the ecosystem about shared objectives. 

Guide: Built World companies must make sure everyone in the ecosystem understands their role and how they can successfully contribute to the shared objectives. Built World companies are responsible for educating the ecosystem that in turn guides them. 

Grow: Built World companies must take an interest in the financial well-being of their partners. They have to help their partners sell better and grow. 

To accomplish these four objectives, Built World companies need technology to help them achieve their goals at scale – Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platforms. A PRM provides Built World companies with the tools they need to create a connected channel experience. PRM platforms are more than just partner portals with static content. A PRM is a platform that allows Built World companies to create a shared environment where everyone can have access to the tools needed to educate, influence, sell, and service shared customers. PRM Platforms include tools for: 

  • Joint business planning
  • Training and certification
  • Content management
  • Lead management 
  • Marketing automation
  • Selling playbooks
  • Order management

Creating a connected channel experience is not simply bringing new technology into your organization. Your IT folks should not be the ones leading your channel initiatives. Creating a connected channel experience is about communicating the way each individual within your ecosystem wants to be communicated with. This requires taking a strategic approach to the way you do business in the digital age that we live in.