Having partners helping to market and sell your products is an invaluable asset for any business. That being said, without proper Partner Relationship Management on your end, these assets can quickly become liabilities or, at the very least, a drag on sales productivity.
Use the following 10 tips to get the most from these relationships.
Tip #1: Utilize PRM Software
There’s no getting around it: if you’re not using PRM software, efficient Partner Relationship Management is going to be all but impossible. A lot of the following tips are going to take for granted that your company already uses or is considering using PRM software. If you elect not to, you run the risk of lackluster performance from your sales channel.
SEE ALSO: PRM Software: The Best Way to Onboard New Channel Partners
Tip #2: Make Critical Systems Easily Accessible
Right away, this is where PRM software is essential. Most robust PRM solutions enable a wealth of functionality that supports your indirect channel but there are invariably point solutions that your partners need access to. A PRM system allows Single Sign-On to these systems making it easier for your partners to do business with you. .
Tip #3: Don’t Accept Everyone
While it’s a nice compliment that a business wants to partner with you, that doesn’t necessarily mean it makes sense to take them on. Take the time to properly plan your channel strategy by identifying the ideal partner that is most likely to be profitable. From there, a PRM software system helps you bring these partners onboard quickly and effectively through automated processes. This initial step is essential to a Partner Relationship Management strategy. Otherwise, you’re making more work for yourself.
Tip #4: Know What Your Customers Want
One really nice thing about PRM software is how easily it can aggregate essential information. Incorporate customer feedback into your strategy for improving the support requirements that makes your channel partners more successful. Know where your customers do business and provide coordinated events or marketing campaigns around these markets. . In many instances, your sales partners will have the closest relationship with the end customer so take the time to listen to your partners - and ask their advice - to promote a more collaborative relationship.
Tip #5: Nail Onboarding
The sooner a business can become an actual partner, the better. Onboarding can be a huge bottleneck if you’re not constantly refining this step and taking measures to automate certain processes. Consider this a critical first impression when your partners evaluate how easy it is do business with you. And with each new partner you bring into the fold, look for ways you can improve it.
Tip #6: Automate Contracts
Obviously, your Partner Relationship Management will probably involve a number of contracts. At the very least, you probably have an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) you need your partners to sign. Automate these with digital signatures and notifications or alerts indicating this process is complete. One of their major advantages is that a vendor on the other side of the world can have a contract signed within an hour.
Tip #7: Automate Everything Else Too
Alright, it’s impossible to automate everything. However, it’s worth a large chunk of time to review your workflow and find areas where automation would increase efficiency. Just using PRM software will open your eyes to how many different areas you could hand over to automation. With improved automation comes improved insight into where each partner stands in any given business process..
Tip #8: Educate
Don’t take for granted that your channels know everything about your company. How could they possibly know as much as you do? Part of Partner Relationship Management is ensuring that your channel has a high level of understanding of the value your products or services bring to market. If they know more about a competitor’s offerings than your’s, that’s a problem.
Tip #9: Train
Aside from just educating your channel, look to create specific training opportunities for your partners. More and more companies rely on web-based training that is scalable for national and global partner networks. . It probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense to use the same educational resources for onboarding that you would for new hires. When they have turnover, a fresh crop of employees who know nothing about your company will be brought on. Get them up-and-running ASAP by having training materials available. Last but not least, track the progress of each partner and use that information when evaluating sales performance.
Tip #10: Review Your Partners
Always keep an eye on how your partners are performing. These aren’t affiliates, they’re partners whom you are actively investing in. If you see one that isn’t performing well, look for ways to help them. Companies that are outpacing their competition are not focus entirely on the results - sales revenue - but rather the means by which they are getting there. Examples include the correlation between training and certifying a sales rep with their sales productivity. Or the percentage of Market Development Funds (MDF) allocated to a partner with their percentage of sales quota achieved. You get the idea.
The 10 tips above take time and effort to map to your organizations needs but they can be quick to implement, especially with the right software. Additionally, , they’re invaluable for evaluating your channel strategy and increasing the returns you get from the partners you work with.