7 Ways Digital Experiences Streamline Manufacturers’ Sales and Distribution Processes

Manufacturers need efficient, effective ways to manage their entire production and distribution processes. 52% of manufacturers say they can no longer differentiate on product alone, so it’s essential to have experiences that set you apart from the competition. These industrial organizations must embrace digital transformation to overcome disparate and frustrating systems that result in a poor experience for their users–especially their dealers and distributors.

Partner expectations have grown beyond manual processes, email exchanges and one-way digital portals. Dealers and distributors want to be shepherded through a journey that supports their business success. Today’s most successful manufacturers are meeting (and exceeding) these expectations by delivering truly partner-centered experiences. As you turn your attention to 2022, it’s essential that your company has a roadmap in place to meet your users’ evolving needs. Here are 7 ways that implementing a digital experience streamlines processes and unlocks value for manufacturing companies.

Digital Experiences for Manufacturing

1. Streamline Registration, Onboarding & Activation

Outdated, manual processes often result in friction for new partners as they are unable to seamlessly acclimate to your online solutions. When registration is overly complex, dealers and distributors may be unable or unwilling to adopt and engage with your brand. Meanwhile, companies that implement PRM systems reduce new partner ramp time by 40%. A digital experience lets you add features like onboarding flows that enable manufacturers to increase the number of users who engage with their experience. 

Identifying this as a priority is an important first step, but you need the right technology to build these seamless journeys. Salesforce lets you add Lightning Bolts, such as 7Summits’ PartnerFirst for Manufacturing, that contain a single consolidated solution that makes partner activation simple. You can guide partners through multiple steps that you customize, helping partners rapidly and efficiently get set up. And once they’re onboarded, the rest of your digital experience helps them access everything they need to be successful–which we’ll dive into now.


2. Enable Transparent Access to Resources, Dashboards & Products

Outdated portals and complex solutions make it difficult for users to find and utilize the resources that are crucial to their success. In manufacturing, it’s essential for dealers and distributors to view dashboards, product information and customer information to increase conversions. By creating a truly partner-centered experience, manufacturers ensure that their channel has simplified access to the tools they need. PRM solutions improve transparency into supply chain and sales processes, leading to a 50% reduction in lead drop and related increase in customer satisfaction. You’ll give dealers and distributors a one-stop shop for product info, personalized dashboards, performance metrics and more–all of which improve dealer satisfaction and keep them on track to meet goals. 

METUS PRM Community partner group landing page

Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US (METUS) needed a consolidated partner community that would unlock this type of access to different resources and drive engagement. With a 90-day notice to move everything off an outdated platform, METUS implemented a digital experience that engaged partners, eased project tracking and lead distribution, improved forecasting and streamlined the quote approval process. These results were achieved with a community that transparently surfaced everything their dealers and distributors needed. From personalized dashboards to open lead monitoring, their contractors were able to navigate business processes more efficiently. Their partners had better insights, faster resource access and connected journeys thanks to METUS’s digital experience.

3. Provide Opportunities for Growth, Learning & Collaboration

The most successful manufacturers are taking advantage of opportunities to constantly maximize their channel performance. You need dealers and distributors to close more deals and meet performance goals, and an enhanced partner experience enables them to do so. An easy way that these experiences improve performance is by giving them the means to grow, learn and collaborate. 

With the simplified, one-stop access to resources and dashboards outlined above, manufacturers enable partners to leverage self-service to find necessary resources. A solution like PartnerFirst for Manufacturing also lets you implement tailored learning journeys for your channel, with data-driven paths supported by links, videos and other customized resources. Additionally, a partner experience helps manufacturers improve collaboration. You’ll provide a unified solution for engagement, unleashing users to interact in real-time deal rooms. When your distributors are able to assist one another through discussions, file sharing and group participation, they’ll see boosts in efficiency and effective selling.

4. Analyze Real-Time Feedback, Metrics & Marketing Insights

After taking advantage of these first steps, you and your partners will be able to uncover patterns in how to best sell to buyers. The transparency into lead tracking and account management helps you collect and analyze data in real-time to more efficiently engage your purchasers before, during and after making a sale. AI-powered insights gathered directly from personalized dashboards give your partners visibility into potential cross- and upsell opportunities, which in turn drives revenue for your business. Companies that implement PRM systems and associated process automations see a 33% channel manager efficiency gain.

Additional marketing insights also enhance your ability to innovate with product improvements. You can better understand the behaviors of your partners’ end buyers and develop new offerings in response to consumer patterns and preferences. A digital experience makes it easy to gather and then visualize this data in a single, easily accessible place. Discover other ways that a digital experience makes things easy for your manufacturing users by checking out our free infographic. 

5. Boost Partner Retention & Affinity 

Manufacturers benefit greatly when they have long-term partner stickiness. The dealers who work with you the longest are frequently those with the knowledge and experience to shorten deal cycles and register more deals. An innovative partner experience ensures that you’re able to meet their escalating expectations, keeping your key performers invested for the long term. Tools like PartnerFirst for Manufacturing unlock personalization and relevance that provide a top-notch UX to keep dealers and distributors coming back. You can easily communicate and coordinate directly with your entire dealer network, helping boost loyalty and partner retention. They have constant access to the tools they need to meet performance goals, further incentivizing them to stay engaged with your experience. And the features mentioned above–onboarding, metrics and insights, learning paths, dashboards–combine to give you an industry-leading experience that strengthens partner affinity and fosters long-term relationships founded on mutual success.

6. Embrace Intelligent Experiences & Connected Applications to Unify Partner Journeys

It’s important for today’s manufacturers to acknowledge the need to invest in creating an innovative, connected partner experience–and understand that the return on that investment will be well worth the cost. Embracing Intelligent Experiences let you transform interactions among your partners. Consolidated systems, personalized dashboards and streamlined deal registration and case management are all further enhanced when you include the hyper-relevance, data-powered insights and automation made possible by Intelligent Experiences. Your experience collects data on your partners’ behaviors, enabling them to be more efficient and successful in their selling processes. These smarter, faster solutions enable use cases like dynamic pricing and enhanced lead management, leveraging predictive analytics to impact business processes and accelerate deals. The more innovative your experience, the better the UX will be for partners, strengthening the channel stickiness outlined above.

7. Consolidate Systems & Data to Make It Easier to Do Business with You

Creating an innovative, partner-centered experience using the methods above all helps you work toward one thing: making it easier for your dealers and distributors to do business with you. Your partners want to be able to locate people and resources quickly, and you want to easily manage business relationships across often complex networks. With a digital experience, you ensure that everything that’s essential for your partners’ success is located in a single, accessible, user-friendly location. And when you start building in some of the intelligent characteristics, your experience gets even smarter, faster and more innovative.

Daltile, the leading manufacturer of tile and stone products, implemented a digital experience to achieve some of these goals. Their support and data management solutions were disaggregated across legacy systems, requiring a cultural shift that embraced a more agile digital solution for buyers. They undertook a full digital transformation to enhance UX, establish pipeline management and centralize support ops. Daltile also consolidated their systems to unlock account management, self-service, inventory checks, online ordering and better data collection within the experience. This made it easier for customers and partners to do business with Daltile thanks to pipeline visibility, streamlined support and modernized sales operations.

Manufacturers are reliant on their partners to grow profitably, but these channels have higher expectations and more options than ever before. It’s important for manufacturing companies to rise to the occasion and deliver partner-centered experiences that facilitate good relationships with their dealers and distributors. By embracing some of the ways that a digital experience improves these journeys, manufacturers will be well-positioned to enable their partners’ success.

Learn More About Manufacturing Partner Experiences

Explore our “3 Steps to Transforming the Manufacturing Partner Experience” ebook, co-written with Salesforce!

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