6 Business Benefits of Partner Relationship Management Software
The concept of partner relationship management software has been around for a couple of decades. However, most of the platforms really haven’t taken off for some pretty specific reasons. The primary reasons have revolved around the cost and complexities involved in deployment. However, over the last five or 10 years or so, several companies offering partner relationship management software have made considerable progress—not only in reducing cost but also in modularizing the software functionalities in a way that allows vendors to deploy the software in a logical and sequential order that makes sense for their own organization. In this article, we will talk about the six main benefits of deploying partner relationship management software.
Streamline partner onboarding: If you are in a company with a large channel or if you are in a company that is trying to expand your channel, chances are you’re trying to recruit new partners. If you’re trying to recruit new partners into your channel programs and they’re using a manual process, you are wasting a lot of internal resources by doing things manually that properly configured partner relationship management software can do much more efficiently. You’re also creating friction within each engagement and with the partners that you are trying recruit. Properly configured partner relationship management software can significantly streamline your onboarding process. It reduces costs, it increases partner satisfaction and it also increases visibility into the entire partner onboarding process.
Realize new efficiencies from automating the learning management and certification process: Today most vendors selling to the channel have some kind of learning management system (LMS) in place. However, typically these systems do not connect properly with other subsystems. Therefore, the LMS is often managed as an island by the training and learning team, and is rarely fully integrated into the overall channel management process, especially when it comes to channel account managers or business manager infrastructure. Properly configured partner relationship management software can significantly increase the efficiency with which you manage your partner base and the learning and certification processes associated with it.
Speed up distribution of co-branded assets: Today most vendors have a partner portal which they use for communicating with the partners about programs and about the progress that the vendor is making with the business. But as a part of the process they also distribute co-branded assets. A properly configured partner relationship management software platform will significantly increase the speed with which these assets are distributed from the agency that is creating them to the partner marketing team that is going to use them. But that's not all. The partner can also log in and co-brand an asset online, which increases partner satisfaction. It also allows vendors see which partner is downloading which assets, and whether they are working or not.
Reduce the labor and complexities associated with lead management: If you are selling to the channel—say, the mid-market and enterprise markets across all verticals—chances are you have some sort of a deal protection program in place. If your partners are accessing your CRM, or some other homegrown online tool, it’s likely the process is cumbersome, creates conflicts, lacks visibility and doesn’t give you the control you need to operate like a 21st century organization. Here again, a properly configured partner relationship management software platform can significantly streamline your lead management distribution as well as your deal registration program—thereby reducing the costs and labor involved, but also increasing partner satisfaction and eliminating the channel conflicts that arise when you try to manage by using spreadsheets or some other documents that are not fully automated.
Increase returns from partner incentives: If you are selling to the channel, you probably offer partner rebates that are given to the partner company, and it’s possible offer some sort of rewards that go to the sales reps or technical reps or marketing individuals from the partner organization for carrying out certain activities. It’s also possible you provide market development funds or co-op funds to drive marketing activities. However, if you are tracking all of these things using Excel, you're not only wasting a lot of organizational resources internally, but also--once again--creating unnecessary friction with the partners by preventing them from getting things done fast and accurately. If you configure and deploy a partner relationship management software platform that has incentives management capabilities, this can significantly enhance the return on investment for your market development funds, because you can track progress and reallocate funds based on what’s working (or not), and you can do all of that much faster. And you can also provide that data in a dynamic form to your own channel organization, and they can use that information to engage with the partners, put together better plans and execute marketing campaigns in a much better way.
Increase partner satisfaction: Today we live in a hypercompetitive world. If you’re not taking care of your partners, your competitors most certainly will. Most partners do not have unlimited resources, so if you enable these partners to do business with you in a faster, better and easier way, they will naturally gravitate towards you when they are thinking of solutions for their customer base. And in many instances—especially in the technology and manufacturing segments, where a specific partner may sell multiple solutions from multiple vendors—a partner will naturally migrate towards vendors who they feel are easier to do business with. Properly configured and deployed partner relationship management software can significantly enhance your partner satisfaction rate and your growth potential with that partner base.
As I have suggested here, these six areas represent benefits that almost all businesses selling to the channel can realize when they deploy a properly configured partner relationship management software platform. But the benefits don’t stop here. If you expand your partner relationship management software capabilities and add channel marketing management and channel sales management capabilities, then you have built a truly Unified Channel Management infrastructure that can allow you to scale globally with increased partner engagement and satisfaction, at a much lower cost. And you can do so with visibility and control, and with the ability to accurately predict the return that you’ll get from your channel. Isn't that the future you want to achieve today? If you want to learn more, please go to zinfi.com.