We are often contacted by organizations asking us about the best approach they should pursue as they consider a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) solution for their company and their dealer channel. As we reflect on these questions, we have come up with five best practice strategies we think are important for any company considering a PRM solution.
1. Ask Your Dealers - Find Your Gaps
Survey channel stakeholders at the enterprise level and within the dealer network. Why? The dealers use your processes and applications every day. You may “perceive” things are ok but if you take the time to get their feedback, they will tell you how it really is. Uncovering the gap between your company’s perception of how easy you are to do business with - versus the reality from the dealer’s standpoint - will provide you a good basis of information on how a PRM solution can help narrow gaps and where to start. Your partners will appreciate your interest in helping to grow their business and creating a platform that promotes higher levels of engagement will improve everyone’s results.
2. Assess Your Current Channel Technologies
Another critical step is to take an assessment of the existing technologies currently in place for supporting your channel partners. Evaluating your current systems will help you begin the process of understanding where you are now, where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there.
Are dealers using multiple point solutions each with their own separate login credentials? Is there any type of portal or Single Sign On (SSO) system currently in place for specific job roles? Take an inventory of all of these systems and applications that your company provides its dealers, and make an honest assessment of how well they are supporting your partners needs. Gathering this information will provide a basis for a strategy of which systems should be replaced and which systems that are effective need to be integrated into a single PRM solution.
3. Industry Review
As you would expect, there are many potential PRM solutions offered today. Conduct a review to help decide what solution best fits your needs. There are some requirements you will need from any PRM provider:
- You need to see that the company providing it is focused on its continued improvement and has a roadmap for product innovation.
- Just like how a smartphone connects with various applications to make it easy for the user, you need to find a PRM solution that unifies the user experience as well. Dealers don’t merely want a portal that offers up your pre-existing applications, they will want to make sure you enable additional support features that are not currently offered.
- Consider a PRM system that offers all the support features your channel will potentially need, which includes Marketing and Communications solutions, Training and Certification, Collaboration forums, Lead Management and Performance reporting. Look for a solution that offers you more than you need right now with the expectation that you can expand the partner support features over time as your business evolves.
4. Create a Plan for Accomplishment
Envision - and then document - the results you want to see when you have launched the PRM technology. You will be able to offer your dealers online training, post announcements and marketing materials, and much more. You should consider delivering an official marketing and communications plan to your partners to let them know your strategy behind a PRM solution, what they can expect to gain from this, and what - if anything - is required of them. Develop a list of the things you want to provide your dealers. There is so much to offer with a PRM solution, it is important to map out exactly what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there.
5. Start Slow, but Start Now!
Probably the most important aspect to a PRM solution is to start small. One great benefit of most PRM platforms is that your company doesn’t have to do it all at once. Start by turning on the key pieces of functionality you need right away and grow with the system as you learn the advantages over time. This could mean you start your solution with just one specific business unit (like sales, service, parts or finance) or to improve a particular business process such as dealer training, new product introductions or new partner recruiting and ramp up.
The planning phase discussed earlier will be help you establish these near-term priorities. Then as you gain knowledge and insight of the technology look to expand into those areas that can further help you support your partners. You want a PRM that is scalable, for sure, but take advantage of a start small philosophy to be more effective in your implementation and be willing and able to expand in due time. At LogicBay, our process is...