Building Channel sales

Manjeet Chhabra, GM - Middle East at business information and insight firm, Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) talks about how the company is helping channel companies to raise channel profiles

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Building Channel sales
By  Manda Banda Published  November 27, 2012

Manjeet Chhabra, GM - Middle East at business information and insight firm, Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) talks about how the company is helping channel companies to raise channel profiles.

Channel: Briefly outline what D&B is all about?

Manjeet Chhabra: It is more than 170 years ago that D&B started providing commercial information and insights on businesses and since then we have come a long way. Today, we maintain information on over 205 million businesses worldwide. Our solutions, that are customised for the Middle East and African markets fall into two main categories: risk management, sales and marketing solutions. Quality data is the foundation of all our solutions.

Channel: As a specialist channel consultancy firm, how do you see the Middle East channel landscape?

MC: We see our clients laying more and more emphasis on channel building and management. While the new players are aggressively recruiting partners, we see the more matured ones wanting to restructure their channel programmes. It’s all about getting and maintaining committed partners. In region, we see an increased level of channel activity in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Channel: What are your core competencies and how can vendors, distributors and resellers utilise your services in the region?

MC: Among other things, we help our clients build and strengthen their channels. We use the entity matching concept to identify potential partners and help our clients expand into newer territories. For example, if an IT vendor wanted to recruit partners in Africa, they would just give us the profile of an ideal partner. We then match that with our data and contact the potential partners on behalf of our client.

Channel: What type of IT services do you offer your various clients in the Middle East channel?

MC: These days every company wants to be agile, lean and mean. We provide data management solutions to our clients that gives them flexibility and the cost advantage. We also build and host the data and manage it from requirements to retirement.

Channel: Most reseller organisations are not investing enough in marketing initiatives. How is your company helping resellers to develop marketing plans?

MC: Indeed, marketing budgets in the region are still lower than they should be. We typically start our engagement with clients from the budgeting stage itself. We bring the best practice from across the globe and help clients develop their marketing strategies.

Channel: Why is it important for a company to build a brand?

MC: There has been a lot of debate on branding lately. In my opinion, a branding strategy is still as relevant as ever. Branding still breeds customer loyalty and great enthusiasm but if what you do doesn’t match with what you say, it won’t work for long. It’s true that the social business landscape makes it very difficult for companies to control how they are perceived by the consumers. It is still important to articulate your brand’s promise, differentiation and stories.

Channel: What advice do you have for channel firms on sales and marketing?

MC: It is common for SMEs in the region to have sales and marketing rolled into one, but for upper mid-market and the large enterprise it’s a toxic mix.  Half hearted and half baked marketing is in my opinion, worse than no marketing. The channel firms that find it hard to separate the two functions can look at outsourcing marketing.

Channel: Which vendors, distributors and resellers are you currently helping to develop business and marketing programmes here in the Middle East?

MC: We have over 80 clients in the region who are using our products and services in sales and marketing areas. This includes IT vendors, distributors and resellers, logistics companies and government departments.

Channel: What are you finding challenging at the moment in the Middle East IT channel space at the moment?

MC: The main challenge is that most companies do not focus on mid and long-term plans like they did in the past. This makes it difficult for them to sustain the growth. With more stable economic outlook, I hope to see this changing soon.

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