Does anyone ever wonder what happened to the middleman? It seems likes every other advertisement these days mentions “cutting out the middleman.” The middleman (or woman) always seems to get the short end of the stick.

This language tends to be code for direct sales. The product goes straight to the customer, not through any vendors or additional channels. While direct sales tend to be the trend, particularly with online sales, the truth is that most products still need distributors. There is still a myriad of circumstances in which sales involves a collaboration of channels in order to distribute a product and actually come up with a profit.

Traditionally, those additional channels--the defamed middle-people--have been discredited for lack of quality. This was often because of the physical and communicative distance between the seller and the distributor; However, in an age of ultra-connectedness, collaborating with sales partners has become easier than ever. No need to keep shaming the middleman.

The most obvious choice for collaborating with partners is online. Yet, the Sales Management Association’s Enabling Indirect Sales Channels briefing revealed that 49% of businesses say they don’t have the ability to connect to leads or cases through their partner portal. Jason Perocho tells Salesforce those numbers indicate many are “missing out on an effective way to provide consolidated, contextual feedback” that will help both businesses and their channel-partners move forward, not to mention making the process even easier for clients, too.

Never fear, the effective collaboration that Perocho describes is still possible across sales channels. Here’s a few examples of how collaborating with channel partners improves the sales process and consequently, sales overall.

Minimizing Conflict

We’ve all heard it said at one time or another that the majority of conflict can be traced back to miscommunication of some kind. The same is often true in the business world, especially in sales, where information and projects are bound to change hands and go through at least a few supervisors.

Collaborating outside of traditional portals with software such as G Suite, it’s easy to tell who is making what changes, and trace any miscommunication down to the original source. Even better, it minimizes the odds of miscommunication in the first place, by syncing across devices and updating in real time so that there’s less room for confusion in all documents and activities.

This creates what Perocho describes as “context necessary for productive work.” Resources like G-Suite put all of your documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and even calendar in the same place so that everything you need to collaborate with partners is directly at your fingertips.

Ease of Use

This ease-of-use is another hallmark of collaboration tools. Controls are often more intuitive than in traditional databases. This makes it easier for everyone to use the same tools, which results in consistency across the board. Consistency makes communication clear, harkening back to the ever-necessary minimization of conflict.

Using collaborative software makes getting work done and transferring information from one party to the next quick and simple. Additionally, that means you’re not having to accommodate a multitude of systems at once, and won’t run into any slow-downs just because of drastic differences in methods of communication between partners.

Real-Time Progress

With collaboration software like G Suite, updates and edits happen in real time. That means not having to refer back to multiple versions of the same document, dealing with similar (but not the same) attachments, or having to wait for one partner to finish a task in order for your work to begin.

The real-time collaboration means that the sales process takes place efficiently and swiftly. Perocho notes that the “expectation for speedy feedback and on-the-fly communication” has become “pervasive in business culture as well.” Both customers and colleagues alike expect that tasks are met with a sense of urgency in order to keep everyone satisfied. It’s no surprise that working together in real time means everything in a culture where immediacy is a necessity to keep up in a competitive market.

Don’t Change the Channel

So in this age of “cutting out the middleman,” don’t think that channel sales have gotten too intricate or complicated to be successful. In fact, collaboration between channels has become easier than ever. Collaborative software allows clear communication between partners and channels. Most software is highly intuitive and simple for everyone to integrate into their process. And that process can be completed in record time with real-time progress updates available to everyone. Looks like the middleman isn’t stuck in the middle anymore.