Partner Relationship Management – Six Main Takeaways
For an ecosystem-driven organization, partners are always going to be a critical component of the business strategy, whether it’s a vendor just starting out or an organization that has been established for years. After all, the productivity of the partner base determines the success of the business. This is where a well-tuned partner relationship management (PRM) software or system can truly help an organization realize its channel strategy and business goals.Partner relationship management is playing an increasingly important role in building, enabling, and collaborating with growing partner ecosystems. This article explains the benefits of Partner Relationship Management Solutions, how they work, and the six main takeaways:
1. Launch Partner Recruitment
This is the first step in a partner journey – targeting the right partners for your business and efficiently recruiting them in a highly personalized way. Successful partner recruitment can only be achieved when automation, process management, and customization are a place that can be achieved using Partner Relationship Management software.
Such Partner Relationship Management Platforms can support an ongoing and proactive effort to build relationships with potential channel partner organizations that can sell and support a vendor’s solution. This includes both outreach and onboarding processes.
Rather than targeting any available partner, outreach efforts should be built around a strategy – one that seeks out channel partners who are likely to perform. Partner Relationship Management Platforms can provide your ecosystem with all the resources and knowledge they need to begin actively selling as soon as possible.
2. Get Your Partners Onboarded
The goal here is to ensure partners’ functional teams are properly trained on how to market, sell, deploy, and support a specific solution. Partner Learning Management is a cornerstone for success. This needs to be hyper-personalized yet self-guiding. A Partner Relationship Management solution can not only deliver this but also drive adoption which is one of the most challenging components of successful partner programs.
Partner Relationship Management solutions can properly give new partners the tools to sell and provide custom content based on their profiles. You can build and deliver online courses that include webinars, courses, tracks, and certifications through the system.
With PRM systems, you can analyze and report on the onboarding journey of all your partners. By identifying partners that are under-performing, you can determine why, and work to improve their productivity. And, once you know that you can focus on offering specific training and certification programs to bridge those skill gaps in your channel. You can leverage these systems to streamline content updates and ensure that your partners are trained and equipped with the latest marketing, sales, and technical aspects of your solutions.
3. Build a Robust Partner Program
When we talk about programs, we’re referring not just to campaigns like partner recruitment and partner training, but also to the ability to put together market-segment-oriented solutions, training, incentives, and so on. This provides a truly unified channel management framework that allows an organization to recruit, engage, enable and manage its partner base to achieve a desired level of growth. Programs are critical but need to be analyzed from an ROI perspective.
PRM solutions will enable you to clearly define, and plan various types of programs related to partners and potential partners. You can align programs with certain behaviors and outcomes, building a traditional tier-based program or a new point-based one.
To be successful, any partner program requires several key elements. It requires a structured channel program. It requires clear channel policies, so partners know exactly what they need to do to perform successfully and how their performance will be measured and rewarded. It requires clear programs that address both technical and non-technical aspects of the channel program.
A best-of-breed Partner Relationship Management platform can make a huge difference. Companies that have deployed, or are in the process of deploying, point solutions to create a patched-up partner portal or partner management system are likely to regret it in the long run.
They will end up spending a lot more money and end up with a far inferior partner experience and internal experience than they would if they were to consider one of the new best-of-breed Partner Relationship Management Platforms that are currently being offered in the marketplace
4. Launch Your Partners’ Marketing Efforts
Once you have enabled your partners with basic marketing, sales, technical and service aspects of your business, the first big step is to go out and market to generate leads for your products and services. This can also significantly increase brand awareness.
Partner Relationship Software can deliver rich Partner Marketing Management and help your partners succeed with lead generation to their target audience in the new world of digital marketing. While some vendors deliver this content in-house, others might engage agencies to scale their content marketing and add an additional layer of professionalism. Content can be delivered through a PRM platform to not only recruit new customers but also market into the partner’s current installed base.
A Partner Relationship Management Platform can help you put together a set of simple email campaigns, social, web syndication, and another type of digital marketing campaigns that partners can quickly use to launch in minutes. This becomes a necessity when you have a very large and diverse channel, but as a starting point, simple email templates or co-branded asset tools can go a long way to drive your partner’s marketing efficiencies.
Performance-based incentives are essential to generating leads, and a unified approach to partner incentives management is critical. Application modules like market development funds (MDF), co-op management, rewards, and rebates are key elements in automating incentive programs. A partner’s performance can be directly tied to the rewards or incentives they can earn. This can happen both at the individual level of a sales rep or technical person and at the company level where the company can earn additional rebates and/or margins when they hit specified sales targets.
5. Increase Sales & Partner Profitability
A Partner Relationship Management Platform will enable you to implement processes that enable you to track deals and conversion rates and drive partner sales. This allows you to identify over-achievers or those struggling. If conversion rates are extremely low, for example, it may be indicative of insufficient training or the need for more of it.
Partner Relationship Management Platforms are a great resource to serve as an extension of training and engagement. They need to be highly customizable for each partner, depending on their role, groups, profiles, and locations.
How the field organization is structured, how territories are mapped, and how the relationships between the regions and the worldwide organization work—all of these factors contribute to the broader framework required for people management to drive performance. However, without the right structure and the right Partner Relationship Management system mapped into that structure, it’s almost impossible to move fast enough and see through a dashboard what is going on in real time.
6. Automate for Partner Profitability
With all the current partner requirements and partner ecosystems growing at a rapid pace, automation is key for success and a Partner Relationship Management Platform can help you achieve efficiency and scale. It will help you turn time-consuming, tedious tasks into a simple clickable effort. In today’s economy, you must do more with less, and manual management processes are limited in their capacity.
With Partner Relationship Management solutions, you can automate programs, processes, policies, and various workflows for your channel. You can safely store all your organization’s information and provide unlimited resources for partners. Additionally, your organization can customize each partner’s experience based on their specific need, mixing and matching features that are most important. It's all about hyper-personalization - layered with automation.