As the team members responsible for nurturing your company’s vital relationships with the members of its indirect sales channel, channel managers are constantly dividing their attention between the different tasks required to maximize partner engagement and increase revenue through the channel. While recruiting new partners, a channel manager must maintain beneficial relationships with the current ones. While educating your partners about your products and how best to sell them, a channel manager also monitor their performance, identifying and providing incentives to the best performing.
The framework that pulls these disparate tasks together under one roof is called partner relationship management. Partner relationship management (PRM) means the methodology and strategies for improving relationships between companies and their channel partners. PRM is often compared to CRM (customer relationship management) but many companies are finding the complex relationships within the sales channel make it necessary for PRM to be a separate entity and not merely a component of CRM.
PRM software solutions have evolved rapidly since they first appeared in the 1990s. While earlier solutions addressed each piece of the partner relationship puzzle separately, PRM is now viewed as a holistic business strategy. Modern web-based channel management software systems enable companies to customize and streamline business processes.
A PRM system your channel managers will thank you for
There are four major elements your channel management team has to stay on top of to allow your dealer partners to do their job – which is selling your company’s products – most effectively. These are the 4Core of channel relationship management. These four elements collectively drive the quality of engagement (awareness of and alignment with your brand) across a dealer network. By implementing a PRM system that focuses on the 4Core, you can ensure your channel partners are receiving the support they need and the time your channel managers are spending working with them is more productive.
The 4Core of PRM are:
- Collaboration. Your PRM system should facilitate collaboration between you and your channel partners, allow your partners to interact with each other and share best practices, and include the ability to interface with the end customer.
- Marketing/Communication. Getting the right message to the right person at the appropriate time, without overwhelming them, is crucial.
- Training and Certification. Being able to deploy, track, and report on training and certifications at the dealer saves time and resources for your company. Your channel partner training and certification programs should be scalable to the global level, while still being centrally managed.
- Performance Management. Which of your dealers are following the playbook and which aren’t? Performance management is the overall process of measurement and data-driven decision making.
If you’re considering a PRM system to enable your channel managers to effectively support your partners, you’ll find our complete guide, “Partner Relationship Management: Best Practice Recommendations,” helpful for getting started or optimizing your current system. This free resource shows how the 4Core fit into a successful channel management system and discusses how to unify them with a PRM solution.