Channels Help B2B Companies Unlock B2B2C Selling

One Configurator for ALL… Introducing Channels

September 4, 2020

If you can perform different types of sales with one platform, you’re ahead of the game. You may sell directly to people: your customers.  But what if you also sell through other people? What if you sell your products with the help of other groups – such as resellers, distributors, and other sales partners? These sales channels help you sell more, but can be a headache to manage.  Thanks to our new Channels feature, you can easily control which products are available through which business partners, as well as what those partners see.  Deciding between B2B or B2C? You can enjoy B2B2C selling with KBMax. 

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What are Channels?

In a nutshell, Channels help you offer the right products through the right sales partners at the right price… in a way that makes both you and your partners look great to the customer.  Build one configurator, and through Channels that configurator can offer one set of options to customers visiting your web site, and a second set of options to customers seeing it on your sales partner’s website.  Furthermore, the quotes generated by all these groups are stored securely. You see them all, your supplier sees only those generated through their channel, and a customer sees only their own quotes. And finally, the look and feel of that one configurator can match the branding of your own site or any of your partner’s sites, so customers aren’t distracted and your sales partners look great.  A great example of this is our customer, Tuff Shed, who has a configurator on their own website as well as on their partner Home Depot’s site. 

 

Watch your company grow into a multi-channel sales powerhouse.

How easy is it to get started with KBMax channels?  Very easy. Here’s an example story about Acme Corporation, who starts with a simple configurator to sell their custom product and extends that same one configurator across multiple types of sales.  

 

Phase 1: Internal users only

Acme sells a configurable product. But the quotes their sales team create are inaccurate, and the drawings from engineering have occasional errors. Their first phase is to improve quoting accuracy and automate product design, with these requirements:  

  1. All users are employees. Allow any of them to create a configuration and submit it.
    Acme has Salespeople, Sales Managers, and Engineers.  While any employee can create and submit a configuration, each configuration must be reviewed by an Engineer, and quotes that have a big discount should be approved by a Sales Manager.
  2. Any employee can see all submitted quotes/configurations.
    There’s no reason to hide a quote from any team member.
  3. What you can see within a quote depends on who you are. 
    Everyone can see every quote, but some data in the quote is sensitive. Acme’s configurator calculates the labor and material costs, and then calculates the price from those costs.  While the price should be visible, the costs should be hidden to everyone but Engineering.
  4. What you can do within a quote depends on who you are. 
    For example, while anyone could submit a configuration, only an Engineer could approve or reject a quote at the “Engineering Approval” stage, and only a Sales Manager can process a quote if it falls into the “Large Discount Approval” stage.

All these requirements can be met by the KBMax core platform “out of the box” with no additional modules.  Security and user management are part of our core functionality.

 

Phase2: Include distributors

(B-to-B-to-C)

Acme’s first phase was successful, and they want to expand their reach.  The second phase is to include their channel partners: they use a distributor and a reseller to help sell their products.  In addition to the needs above, this phase of the project requires:

  1. Channel partners should see only their own transactions.
    Distributor A sees only their own quotes/configurations, not the quotes created by Acme’s sales team, nor the quotes from Reseller B.  The same rules apply for Reseller B.
  2. Channel partners can have different pricing logic.
    Distributor A enjoys a unique pricing agreement, so their configurations should show different prices than Reseller B.
  3. The configurator should appear in the colors and fonts of each channel partner.
    If a distributor has a different theme (a set of color and font settings) than Acme does, it’s no problem.  That same one configurator can appear in different themes when it’s launched from different web sites.  Distributor A sees it in their blue theme, Reseller B in their green theme.
  4. Channel partners should be able to manage their own users.
    Acme doesn’t want to have to deal with Distributor A adding a new salesperson, or Reseller B’s password lockouts.  These basic tasks are best managed by someone trusted within that channel.  In KBMax, we call this user a “channel administrator” — a member of a channel with limited administrative rights to create, freeze, delete, and update users as needed within that channel.  Channel administrators cannot see or manage users outside their channel.  
  5. Restrictions at the channel level don’t cause problems for employees.
    It doesn’t matter if a quote comes from an internal salesperson, a distributor, or a reseller: Acme employees should be able to see them all.  And they can: restrictions that are added for channel users have no impact to other users outside that channel, like Acme employees.

These requirements can be met by activating the “Channels” feature in KBMax.  Once that’s turned on, Acme’s administrators follow some basic Channel setup steps found on our Wiki, and they’ve now a new way to sell their products!

 

Phase 3: Allow B-to-C direct customer sales to anyone on the web

Acme has a new product line that they’d like consumers to configure themselves.  They would like the configurator to be available to the general public, embedded within their own website, with no complicated enrollment process preventing the person surfing the web from seeing their configurator immediately. The requirements for this phase are:

  1. Allow anyone on the internet to see a certain configurator.
    Only if the web user wants to submit their shopping cart are they prompted for contact information.
  2. Allow self-service.
    Your customer can configure, price and receive a quote directly from your website. 
  3. Allow promotions.
    Easily present seasonal promotions and discounts during the configuration process. 

Acme wants to make this new configurator as easy as possible for anyone to see… from their tablet, phone, or laptop.  For most cases, users must log in before they can see a configurator.  But if Acme sells directly to people on the internet, they may want to let users launch the configurator and begin learning about the product before they have to log in.  With KBMax, you have this ability.  By allowing anonymous access to a configurator, users will be asked to create an account only after they submit the configurator, not before they see it.  Acme can show off their product without dissuading people with a sign-up screen first.

In summary: channels help you reuse the same configurators across multiple sales relationships.

Channels can help you unlock the B2B2C way of selling so that your customers, partners and inside sales reps can easily and quickly complete the sale.

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The Author

Kirk Fretwell

Kirk Fretwell
Solution Architect at KBMax

At KBMax, Kirk leads our training program to ensure our customers and partners can easily learn our platform and maintain it moving forward.

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