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Salesforce Adds Service To Manage Sales Partners

Combined with the vendor's CRM services, customers can get a single view into their direct and indirect sales channels.
Many businesses rely on resellers, distributors, and other indirect channels to sell their products to the ultimate customer--a complex process fraught with potential misunderstandings and problems. Salesforce.com last week expanded its on-demand application lineup with a service for managing those sales relationships.

Indirect sales channels account for as much as 70% of all sales in the manufacturing, technology, and insurance industries, according to Salesforce. But businesses don't have the same level of visibility into those channels as they do direct sales, which leads to inaccurate sales forecasts and an inability to determine the return on channel partner programs, Gartner analyst Tiffani Bova says.


Everything you always wanted to know about channel sales

Everything you always wanted to know about channel sales


(Click on image to enlarge)
Salesforce Partner Edition provides channel partner recruitment, training, and marketing assistance capabilities, as well as ways to measure the sales success rate of these partners. It provides businesses with a portal that they can use to provide services such as lead generation and marketing assistance to channel partners. The service will be available July 12 and is integrated with Salesforce's other CRM on-demand apps to provide businesses with a single view of all of their sales channels.

F5 Networks, which provides application traffic management software, is one of 25 early adopters of the Salesforce offering. The on-demand apps have allowed F5 to more aggressively roll out its channel programs, including deal registration, sales opportunity and lead forwarding, and business planning services, says Dean Darwin, North America channels VP. "If it wasn't for [Salesforce Partner Edition], we wouldn't have been able to do everything we wanted to do so quickly," he says.

F5 already uses Salesforce's on-demand sales management applications. The company considered purchasing applications for partner relationship management from other vendors, but that would have resulted in separate interfaces for F5's sales reps who sell directly to and work with channel partners, Darwin says. The new service's deal registry feature has provided the company with visibility into its sales channels that it never had before, he adds.

Forrester Research analyst Liz Herbert expects the service to be particularly attractive to small and midsize businesses. But Salesforce has to prove that it can be integrated with inventory and order management applications to provide channel partners with real-time information about products, prices, and inventory availability.

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