Your channel partners determine whether or not your company will hit its revenue targets and your job performance depends on their success. You have a handful of channel partners signed up and you have several more ready to come on board over the next few months. It is time to invest in a in a system that will allow you to effectively manage these channel partners.
Working for an emerging growth company, you have a limited budget. Your company already has a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place so why not use this. The simple answer is that a CRM platform is designed for the direct selling environment. These systems enable the collecting and sharing of data for the entire sales process, from lead generation to closing new business. Your indirect sales channel requires a more complex relationship management. You need to effectively collaborate with independently owned and operated organizations that have competing demands on their limited resources. Strategic goals are often not perfectly aligned and tension lurks at every turn.
To be successful with channel partners, you must manage the following enabling activities successfully:
- train and certify partners so that they are prepared to effectively sell and service your products
- provide marketing and communications materials that are co-branded for your company and your channel partners
- have a partner on boarding strategy - an efficient process for bringing on a new partner
- provide new hire support - tools to help your partner ramp up new sales people so that they’re closing new deals fast
- provide a process for launching new product introductions effectively
- control performance management – to motivate, reward, track and analyze the performance of the entire sales enterprise
This complex environment and the various collaboration points are beyond the capabilities of a CRM system. What you need is a channel management system that allows you to put all this information and data in a partner portal for easy access by you and your channel partners. By implementing such a system you can increase sales, improve margins, lower service and warranty costs, and increase customer satisfaction. What you are really looking for is a partner relationship management (PRM) solution.
A partner relationship management system makes it possible to quickly and easily integrate all of the channel marketing activities related to the support, development and management of a distribution channel into a single customized collaboration portal. Recognizing the extreme challenges associated with launching and scaling a channel strategy for an emerging growth company, all companies in this position should consider a cloud-based PRM platform with low monthly user fees, no upfront capital outlay and no long-term agreements.
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