With the online media influence growth on marketing and sales, the number of digital sales channels and the diversity of sales models are increasing. Moreover, traditional sales channels are also changing and adapting their business models to digital trends. Integrations and connections are made also among individual software solutions. All of the mentioned brings companies many combinations and new or different opportunities to expand sales channels.
Individual sales channels can vary greatly, both in terms of conditions for entering an individual sales channel, in terms of target markets and target customers that you can access through each sales channel, as well as in terms of the type of products and/or services to be sold through each sales channel. In this regard, knowledge of possible sales channels and how to enter an individual sales channel is essential and is the basis for preparing the company’s sales strategy. Individual technological solutions enable seemingly fast entry into many sales channels at once, but only if you meet the conditions for entry into an individual sales channel. However, these conditions can be very diverse and more or less demanding.
For example, individual channels differ depending on:
- whether your customers are business (B2B) or individual (B2C) and/or from public sector (B2G);
- whether or not you can sell your product/service through online sales channels;
- whether you sell raw materials, semi-finished products, products, services, perishable goods;
- whether your products/services are suitable for the local and/or international market;
- what standards and certifications you have for your products or services;
- whether you meet the entry requirements of an individual sales channel or you can meet the requirements within a reasonable time;
- whether you sell goods/services only under your own brand or also under white label;
- what production capacities do you have;
In addition, there are many modern technological solutions on the market that allow you (a) fast access to the global market through various marketing and sales channels, (b) connectivity and synchronization between different technological solutions, (c) process automation in relation to the customer and direct contact with customers regardless of the customer’s location, (d) optimization of your positioning in the market or in an individual sales channel, etc. All of the above is, of course, conditioned by a good knowledge of technological solutions, the appropriate fulfillment of the conditions of individual products and services to enter an individual target market as well as to enter an individual sales channel, the company’s ability to enter one or more foreign markets and a well-prepared strategy of market entry through various sales channels.
Let me list a few examples of the use of modern sales in the case of (1) traditional and (2) digital channels as well as in (3) the development of partnerhip models.
- Use of modern technological solutions in traditional sales channels
Traditional sales channels run through distributors, agents and retailers, and modern technological solutions can be used at all stages, i.e. both in the phase of searching for sales partners and in the phase of managing relationships with them. What is all at your disposal?
- online directories and platforms (B2B) to help find business partners, including distributors, agents, retail stores, industrial customers; these directories and platforms are often sectoral, geographical or otherwise focused on one sector, one region, one business model;
- online directories and platforms for monitoring public procurement notices (B2G) as well as for finding consortium partners for the purpose of joint application to the call;
- digital tools for automated marketing in terms of systematic, pre-planned dissemination of electronic messages to (potential) customers;
- intranet, platforms or other solutions for centralized sales monitoring and/or managed communication with an existing traditional sales or other partnership network;
- The use of modern technological solutions in digital sales channels
Digital sales channels are greatly changing the current sales models of companies. Every day, new online stores, new online marketplaces and new sales platforms are created, or existing ones expand their business to new categories of products and services and/or new markets. Even the original marketing channels often outgrow their role and at the same time become sales channels. Traditional forms of distributors are complemented by new wholesale platforms, and technology also enables integration or also synchronization of data between different systems, stores, marketplaces, platforms, online channels. Of course, these integration options can be hampered by your current solutions of your website or online store. Therefore, when developing your website or online store, it is important to know the possibilities of expansion or upgrades, so that “cheap” solutions do not disable or make it difficult for you to use modern digital sales channels in a more advanced form in your next stages.
- Use of partnership or collaborative business models in the sales process
Digitization also facilitates work with the partnership network and thus increases the number and diversity of partners. This means that in practice, many partnership models have emerged, which are becoming an important competitive factor for every company. The more you connect with a variety of partners (i.e. also outside your sector), either in the process of defining sales packages or in the sales process itself, the more you become innovative in your offering. The co-branding model is already very well established, and the development of platforms or business ecosystems is already a common model for market leaders. This means that more advanced companies try to solve the problems of each target segment comprehensively and in one place (supported by an appropriate technological solution), together in partnership with other providers of complementary products and services.
From the short and simplified description above, it is clear that companies should be able to know the different options and also be able to choose and use the best combination of sales channels according to the type of product or service on sale, the desired entry market and target customer segment and last but not least according to their human, technological and financial capabilities to enter an individual market through one or more sales channels.
Therefore, the website or online store, online or even traditional sales should no longer be seen as a stand-alone project, but as part of a wider business ecosystem and as an integral part of broader strategic decisions. This, in turn, requires management to systematically analyze options and appropriately select and use a combination of marketing and sales channels and a variety of partnership models.
* the article was originally written in Slovenian language and published in the magazine “Obrtnik” of the Slovenian Chamber of Craft and Small Business