Manage Channel Conflicts

The integration of e-commerce and the traditional physical sales force and distribution channels can create problems for any organization, including spring contacts vendors.

Sales & marketing channels are forms of customer contact and industry reach.  The  channels  used in the spring contact industry  are typically direct sales, manufacturers representatives, and stocking distributors.   

Leads are commonly generated from trade shows, a website, social media, virtual communities, referrals,  direct mail and catalog distributions, and traditional print media.

Businesses try to use each of their sales channels in harmony in order to  maintain a motivated sales force, and to inform, advise, and serve customers.  The end goal is to win mutually successful contracts with the customer.

Marketing channel conflicts are inherent with the global reach of the internet.   How business leaders manage their online and offline sales & marketing efforts, determines how well the various channels, including internet,  direct sales, direct mail, and traditional media can co-exist.   Proper execution of strategy involving both new and old sales channels will dictate a companies success.

Although many customers can be inspired or attracted with only direct sales, statistics show that more and more customers are using the internet to perform their product and service research, and to purchase online from suppliers directly, vs. using a middleman.   Direct sales effort should be used to advise and consult at the contracting stage to handle complex issues, and expand the customer relationship with the goal of gaining deeper commitments to your brand.

A relatively recent, and very significant trend is the entrance of new generations (“millennials”) entering the workforce.   Millennials have a tendency to embrace newer technologies.  Studies indicate they are driving e-commerce providers to implement more and more advanced B2C features, into their B2B engagements.   This includes a tendency to shop on contemporary marketplaces for their business needs.   Marketplace technology allows rapid product comparison, a wide product selection, and convenient price negotiation.   Having the ability to purchase diverse products from multiple vendors is also attractive.

Given the trends, channel conflicts can occur when one method of reaching prospective consumers interferes with, or even cannibalizes another.  If there is a lack of integration, conflicts can occur when one channel
targets customer segments already served by an existing channel. This
leads to a deterioration of channel effectiveness.  It is not uncommon
for a channel that feels threatened to retaliate in some fashion,
or simply stops selling the products.

More and more, Engineers and Buyers in the B2B community, are engaging multiple channels for their purchase processes.   When a customer is loyal to a brand to purchase products, expectations for an equal experience both online, and offline is often demanded.   Especially when a user is taking advantage of both online, and offline channels, such as direct sales, or distribution.

If your multi-channel communication and compensation strategy is not properly harmonized personnel will experience the perceived threat that online sales has over direct sales.

To attain harmony, and avoid channel conflicts in a contemporary “click-and-mortar” business, it is necessary to ensure that both traditional and online channels are fully integrated to provide a superior customer experience, and that employees are compensated for overall growth.   This reduces confusion with customers while providing the business the full benefits of a dual or omni-channel strategy.

The sales & marketing executives in a company must set a well coordinate strategy, and take time to properly educate employees about how the strategy is effectively harmonized, especially those whose income and performance is gauged upon revenue stability and growth.  By properly aligning the goals of each channel, and coordinating communication to achieve synergy, all employees involved, and the whole company, benefits from increased sales from all channels.

It’s also important that the customer experience is held to high standards, and that customers are able to freely move from one channel to another as needs dictate.  Sales executives also need to encourage cross-channel cooperation so that the strengths and efficiencies of each channel are utilized, and revenue and profits are enhanced.  Great execution allows synergy between all aspects of a companies’ infrastructure, operations, customer base, supplier and distribution channels.  

The advantages of a well-orchestrated online and offline presence over a pure internet based business model, is that people want to do business with people.  If customers feel they are engaged with the same team, that understands their requirements, both on and off the internet, branding and customer loyalty improve.

There are significant benefits to be gained  which include, but are not limited to:

  • Broadened customer reach
  • Improved market coverage
  • Reduced sales & marketing costs


Consider expanding the use of the marketplace as a part of your organizations synchronized sales & marketing plan, and effectively grow your business for the long term!

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