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With all that is available to us today, why is it that a company's greatest asset can more often than not, be its most under-utilized?

Short-sightedness? Tunnel vision? Bravado? Strict adherence to long-standing senior management foibles? Or a simple strategy that only "we" know how to truly sell our products better?

All of the above, and in many different combinations.

In the North American marketplace, mainly on the B2B front, the asset that is increasingly being recognized by companies that see the big picture (and are not overwhelmed by everyday crises) as a critical contributor to the bottom line, is the dealer.

Traditionally considered a low-on-the-totem-pole option to direct sales, companies that "get it" understand that with proper care and nurturing, and with an ear close to the ground, their dealers can in fact build their brand and sales, while simultaneously building bridges that overcome product and parent brand mis-steps.

Those companies follow several tried and true methods to get the most out of their dealers by:

- Actively engaging them in dialogue

- Listening to their stories to find out the real reasons why their customers buy and don't buy

- Soliciting ideas to generate more sales and build brand loyalty, whether it be applicable on a local, regional or national basis

- Training them to be less product features buffs, and more brand ambassadors

- Giving them all the information, materials and tools necessary to convince current and potential customers to use, or continue using, their products for reasons other than price (a salesman's best friend when quota time comes around, regardless of how it impacts the overall brand in the long term)

And in many industries, it is the dealer that provides much of the direct service and support, and therefore builds the personal and long lasting relationships that create incremental and recurring revenue. So their worth and value can be measured based on company input and attention.

When done right and consistently, with an eye on a brand's overall value proposition, taking the dealer channel under your wing can produce big results.