Implementing a partner relationship management system (PRM) is a necessity for companies in the emerging growth stage that are developing or growing an indirect sales force. Without a system in place that has been specifically designed to manage the unique relationships between vendors and their indirect sales channel partners, the indirect sales channel can become unwieldy and disorganized as it grows. At a certain point, the channel could become too large for a company to manage through its existing systems (like customer relationship management systems or traditional phone, email, and face-to-face interaction) and the information partners need to effectively sell or service the vendors’ products will not be received or will not be understood.
PRM systems provide a robust support environment with proven workflows enabled by technology that allow an emerging growth company to better organize and manage its channel relationships. This capability enables the emerging growth company to manage the entire channel partnership relationship – from initial onboarding to partner relationship optimization or dissolution. A PRM system can be regarded as both a technology solution and a business philosophy. For the purposes of a company in the growth phase, the core functional components and core business process support of PRM include:
1. New Partner Ramp-Up
By necessity, emerging growth companies have very aggressive goals for increasing their number of channel partners over relatively short periods of time. A robust PRM system gives these companies the ability to ramp up new partners by providing the tools to quickly create customized, intelligent partner portals. Through these portals, emerging growth companies can – among other things necessary for efficient partner ramp-up – provide training and certification programs, provide a turn-key platform for marketing and sales support collateral, and provide a method to register sales leads immediately, while facilitating a way to integrate those leads with both the partners’ CRM and the company’s CRM.
2. New Hire Ramp-Up
A full-featured PRM solution will have the necessary tools to provide on-demand training, instructor-led training, and virtual classrooms. A new-hire curriculum for an emerging growth company’s channel partners can be role-based, on-demand and available the moment a new salesperson is hired by one of the company’s channel partners. The right PRM solution also enables emerging growth companies to easily motivate new hires through a powerful, integrated incentive and rewards module.
3. Training and Certification Management
Within an educational framework, PRM technology provides tools for structuring, launching and managing a channel training environment that is available around the clock. The technology provides an emerging growth company’s team with the ability to create, launch and manage a well-defined learning plan that’s tied to specific job roles in the channel. These tools can facilitate the full range of training methods, including classroom training, webinars, e-learning, workgroup collaboration and on-the-job performance support.
4. Marketing and Communications Support
Robust PRM technologies provide a company with a partner portal environment and tools to manage its channel marketing documents, communications and other marketing assets within one dashboard. A partner portal simplifies the interaction between an emerging growth company and its channel partners. By providing a contextual environment that “knows” who each user is based on their authentication, a PRM system ensures that every user of the system gets the right information at the right time to enable them to do their job more effectively. Done right, the result is more engaged employees and increased partner loyalty.
SEE ALSO: Challenges to Effective Channel Sales
5. New Product Introductions
New products introductions are the lifeblood of any emerging growth company. A well-designed PRM system recognizes that by giving channel partners the ability to provide real-time feedback on products and selling strategies and vendors reliable data on product performance.
6. Sales Productivity Tools
On the sales productivity front, the right PRM solution can give an emerging growth company the tools to communicate, educate, motivate and measure its channel performance. Furthermore, a full-service PRM system can capture the company’s sales process, train and prepare its channel partners salespeople for success, monitor compliance, and measure results.
The above six uses of a PRM system for an emerging growth company are just brief snapshots. For a complete overview, download our free white paper, “Partner Relationship Management: A Success Guide for Emerging Growth Companies,” by clicking on the image below.