Taking products and services into global markets requires determining the most effective and efficient selling channels. Also known as marketing channels.
A selling channel is essentially a road map, or flight plan, depicting how your company will bring its products or services to market.
The selling channels you choose will vary depending on whether you sell directly to consumers (B2C) or to other businesses (B2B).
There are basically 4 categories of marketing channels …
Direct selling, indirect selling, dual distribution, and reverse sale channel. Each channel has its own unique web of sub-channels such as retail stores, tradeshows, websites, mail order catalogues, direct mail sales letter, email or text message, etc.
The direct sales channel involves branding and awareness through a traditional sales force, tradeshows, speaking engagements, product or service demonstrations, direct mail, sales letters, radio, TV and display ads.
An indirect sales channel involves intermediaries such as wholesalers and retailers to make a product available to the customer. An example of an indirect sales channel in aviation is (OEM –> dealers –> wholesaler –> retailer –> consumer.)
The dual distribution channel, also known as multichannel selling, describes a wide variety of marketing arrangements by which the manufacturer or wholesaler uses multiple channels simultaneously. They may sell directly to the end users as well as to other companies for resale. They also may use a variety of methods to attract customers and sell products.
The reverse sales channel is unique in that its flow is opposite of the other 3 channels. Instead of manufacturer –> intermediary –> end-user … this channel begins with the end-user and moves to the intermediary or directly to the producer.
In today’s marketplace, the reverse sales channel is commonly referred to as Inbound or Information Marketing. It’s what we all participate in when we search on the Internet, open an email or read a blog.
The Internet has facilitated the advance of this sales channel by expediting access to products and services, spreading thought leadership and encouraging customer engagement. This all takes place through websites, SEO, social media, blogging, email, newsletters, eBooks, webinars, and podcasting, etc.
Since 2006, the reverse sales channel has become the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Today it is exceedingly important in nearly every industry and essential for any company expanding internationally.
When expanding across borders …
It’s essential to incorporate multiple selling channels to increase exposure and sales opportunities. Doing so ensures you’ll meet the client where they are, while making sure you can properly nurture the relationship as well as expand brand recognition.
To establish proper selling channels, and prioritize implementation, you must conduct a thorough market research to develop a clear understanding of the end-user and their alignment with marketing channels.
Select your channels with care and invest in quality marketing materials, training & support.
When operating in international markets, hiring a local sales force will help you understand the culture and local business practices and prevent branding blunders.
Regardless of the sales channel, it is essential to work closely with distributors to ensure they are consistently branding your products in the new market. Stay on top of the process by asking questions and seeking customer feedback.
When you maintain a close working relationship with distributors you’ll be able to recognise weaknesses –before they become a problem – and correct course as necessary.
All sales and marketing channels require infrastructure and organization. Establishing good sales channels can be complex and challenging, however, they are the life-blood of your business. Invest a good deal of time and preparation to do it right, your profits and success will depend on them.