Skip to Content

3 Ways to Improve Partner Engagement and Grow Sales in Manufacturing

side view woman working on industrial manufacturing equipment / manufacturing partners
Where should you prioritize your time and resources to achieve the most fruitful relationships? Above all, make it easier for partners to do business with you. [Anucha Sirivisansuwan / Getty]

When you’re more effective at building your manufacturer-partner relationships, you can grow sales. Here’s how.

Did you know that half of all B2B revenue comes from channel partner sales? In a 2022 survey, 80% of B2B executives reported ineffective partner programs, which may hinder how much of your products they sell. What’s holding you back from improving your opportunities with your manufacturing partners? Siloed systems, fragmented processes, inconsistent programs, and poor communication channels. 

There are effective ways you can address these challenges. Here are three focus areas that will help improve your manufacturing partner relationships and generate more sales. 

Are you excelling at engaging partners?

The right manufacturing partners can help you increase revenue, gain better customer insights, and extend your brand presence. Read our guide to learn how to make selling faster and easier for partners. 

1. Make it easier for channel partners to do business with you

Historically, manufacturers have invested in product-centric improvements, such as developing products more efficiently, lowering production costs, and optimizing supply chains. In today’s markets, differentiation stems from the quality of your customer and partner experiences. 

Many manufacturers like you recognize the value of customer experience to stand out in the marketplace. They focus on an excellent customer experience, from the manufacturer to the channel partner to the end customer. But this requires visibility into customer data between you and your partners. Data transparency and efficient processes enable you to better collaborate with your partners and shift to a customer-centric approach that benefits both of you. 

How? By investing in technology that makes it easier for your manufacturing partners to do business with you and for their customers to purchase from them. A customer relationship management (CRM) platform can help break down silos by integrating data across legacy systems into a single platform. This gives your teams greater visibility into the entire relationship and can extend information through the CRM directly to your channel partners, such as: 

  • leads 
  • order status
  • pricing and quoting capabilities
  • customer service cases
  • service issues and complaints
  • knowledge articles
  • warranty claims

A CRM enables them to work more efficiently, reduce cycle time, and provide better service to the end customer. A CRM can also facilitate more accurate, collaborative forecasting – a priority for 81% of manufacturers. Examples of forecasting could include inventory position, demand forecasts, and competitive intelligence. 

We found that 79% of manufacturers reported having one source of data across the customer lifecycle was a critical priority.

2. Help manufacturing partners sell faster and easier

Collaborating on sales efforts with your partners can help open the door to new markets, helping you increase revenue and become more efficient. These benefits, in turn, improve your manufacturer-partner relationship. 

Collaborating with partners on a community page lets partners configure, price, quote (CPQ) on their own, get visibility into their order status, enter status on service cases, and leverage new marketing materials and templates. 

A Forrester report shared that partner enablement platforms can result in twice as many sales. Platforms can provide visibility into data, including customer purchase history and real-time product information, to help you guide your partner sales teams with cues and next steps to improve their success.  

By sharing transparent forecasts, you can enable partners to close more deals in less time. Automation can also help during the entire channel sales process. At the beginning, you’ll be able to automatically deliver leads to partners. Then you can guide them through a quoting process with readily-available resources. In tandem, show them how close they are to achieving the next rebate threshold so they can ramp up sales and feel encouraged to increase their order. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) helps your manufacturing partners focus on the best leads and opportunities, while offering them the best product and marketing information at each stage of the sales cycle. For their customers, AI can offer recommendations based on their customers’ completed actions or purchase histories. 

Using automation and AI through a partner enablement platform results in a great return on investment for you (and your partner). Want to adjust your production rate to better meet partner supply needs? Track your partner deals and share access to inventory and delivery data to help them close deals faster. Revenue growth can be 1.4 times higher with partner enablement platforms.

3. Better customer and partner service can increase revenue 

You may be looking to services to create new revenue streams and increase the level of customer engagement throughout the product life cycle. Over 89% of manufacturers consider services important or essential elements of their value proposition. Partners are often tasked with executing service for you and representing your brand, so supporting them with the right information and guidance will benefit both of you.

Self-service capabilities empower both partners and customers by reducing friction and lowering cost-to-serve. This feature can offer capabilities like AI-surfaced knowledge articles and FAQs, order tracking and status, scheduling, ecommerce, warranty workflows, and more. Manufacturing partners should be able to create and track customer interactions, with the ability to escalate them when necessary (based on variables you can set). 

Services such as diagnostics and predictive maintenance, enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT), provide you with a flow of information about the inventory status, resource availability, and health of the products you sell. This information can also impact your ability to deliver parts and services on the products. You can channel that information to dealers to proactively schedule repairs and maintenance with the customer. Remote assistance can help your service technician solve complex issues more quickly with live, virtual collaboration with your more senior techs to walk them through the fix.    

Providing partners with support from any device, at any time, on their own terms is key. This support gives you an opportunity to enhance the customer experience and build brand loyalty with the channel partner and the end customer. Service collaboration is an essential part of an overall partner engagement strategy that can help both partners and manufacturers achieve common goals. With real-time data on a shared platform, it’s easier to react to changing customer expectations and implement feedback that improves products. 

Take your next steps to strengthen partner relationships

Where should you prioritize your time and resources to achieve the most fruitful relationships? Above all, make it easier for partners to do business with you. Start by building trust and maximizing transparency. Gain better visibility by creating a unified, shared view of data. Streamlined processes backed by a CRM and real-time data will lead to stronger partner relationships and have a positive impact on the end customer as well. 

Start improving your partnerships today

Learn how simplifying your approach to partner engagement can be mutually beneficial. Our guide outlines the latest challenges and how manufacturers are improving partner relationships to increase sales.

Tony Kratovil VP & GM, Manufacturing

Tony is a demonstrated leader in driving business value through the application of information technology in large manufacturing organizations. He has had multiple program management successes including developing an overall business case, defining and selling a vision, and delivering transformative initiatives in global Fortune 100 organizations.

More by Tony

Get the latest articles in your inbox.