How does your partner sales channel look right now? Who works for your partners and how well are they performing? Who has been given the tools to succeed and who needs more training? Where are your market development funds (MDFs) distributed and have they been put to good use? Should you focus your marketing efforts on one territory over another?
If you could answer those questions right away, you’re probably following PRM best practices. If you had to struggle to locate and analyze the data to answer those questions, you might be lacking the organizational snapshot provided by a robust partner relationship management system. When we talk about the four elements required of a partner relationship management system, we call this one “organizational management.”
How Does Organizational Management With PRM Differ From the Old Way?
When companies build their partner sales channels, common practice after having recruited a new partner is to enter that partner into your customer relationship management (CRM) system as an account and, to differentiate that partner from an end user, tag that account as “partner.” For many of the reasons we have discussed on this blog before, CRM systems are great for managing customer relationships, but using CRMs alone in the partner channel can lead to a host of problems. The primary reason for this is CRMs simply aren’t designed to respond to the unique nature of the channel partner relationship.
While your CRM and your partners’ CRMs serve as the system of record for customer information, your PRM should be your system of record for everything you need to know about your partners, including:
- Their locations.
- The agreements you have made with them.
- Their business plans.
- Their organizational hierarchy.
- Their employees’ roles and training status.
Along with fine-grained information on your sales channel partners and their employees, a PRM system should also allow you to zoom out and view the channel as a whole, making connections between your high-level sales channel strategy and your partners’ individual capabilities and performance. This organizational management component of a PRM system should include an easy-to-use administration console your company can use to establish and maintain complex partner, brand, and internal organizational structures and to map users to these structures as members, managers, and administrators.
Central to the PRM best practices is the concept of roles. With a PRM system, you should be able to assign roles to your channel partners and their employees based on any number of factors—location, job, training-level, etc.—and interact with them accordingly.