Selling & Servicing Customers through Channel
MD - AMD India & VP (Sales & Marketing)
AMD South Asia
From a company's standpoint, an effective channel network is a critical component to not just the sales but also the overall marketing strategy. So while ultimately partners are motivated the most by profits, AMD ensures that the partners also get recognized for their efforts and also given a sense of ownership."A yardstick of our success in engaging with partners is that AMD has been able to retain 100% of its partners over the years," shares Ravi Swaminathan, MD- AMD India & VP (Sales & Marketing) for AMD South Asia.
Role of Channel Management
Channel management broadly includes the processes of channel selection, recruitment, on-boarding, and training, if necessary, of channel partners to ensure optimum productivity. Recognition and timely appreciation are vital for making partners feeling intrinsic to AMD's growth and build a sense of loyalty. Ravi Swaminathan defines, good channel management strategy can help increase revenue growth with a variable cost structure, improved network and ensure better value proposition from partners. There are many factors that determine a sound channel policy like needs, buying patterns, success factors, products, pricing, geographies, etc. While constructing well-defined policies, they keep the unique characteristics of each segment in mind identifying the relevant products for them and creating appropriate messaging around it. "But at the same time, while we have specific channel management strategies for each of the segments, maintaining some consistency across all channel segments is never compromised as it is desirable for long-term development of the brand," adds Ravi.
Ears for partner's sentiments
There were some concerns and negative sentiments about the markets owing to the slowdown amongst many partners for most of the last quarter and the Q4 of FY2011-12. Factors like the HDD issue, falling value of the rupee were a matter of concern. But the industry rose to the occasion, proactively providing active support in terms of product, pricing, incentive programmes, demand generation activities. "We are glad that we have been able to motivate partners to participate actively in the business. A record Q2 in 2012 for AMD is a vindication of the fact that our efforts were not in vain. This also very clearly points to improving sentiments of partners across the country," informs Ravi.
Ravi shares that though partners expressed a willingness to accept AMD CPUs. There was one particular partner in Mumbai who was being rigid. Our channel manager asked him a few questions:
• Are you working for your own company brand or are you just a reseller for a brand where you do fulfilment for low to no margin?
• Is your customer valuing your name and service or just using you to buy a known product at the best possible price in the market?
• Are you making the right gross margins to justify your salesmanship and manage cost of your establishment and invest in future?
Then, he asked the reluctant partner to stock AMD CPUs for just a month on an experimental basis and if didn't find answers to the above questions, AMD won't be worth his time. Well, that partner today is one of our biggest partners in India. Not only he but his customers are happy too with AMD.
AMD has a "Smart Channel Programme" where they train their channel partners and keep them abreast with AMD's new product offerings. Under the Happy Hour programme, once every week, an AMD channel manager visits a partner's store and spends an hour interacting with partners and his customers. "These direct interactions helped channel partners understand AMD's products better and us understand customer/channel partners. We also provide all necessary merchandising and support to our partners," shares Ravi.
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