Most indirect sales operations are now looking to embrace some form of sales enablement, such as a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) system, to help streamline their operations and continue competing with monolithic sales entities. The right PRM system can centralize major aspects of your ecosystem that had previously been difficult to manage by hand – including communications, sales and technical literature, strategy documents, training modules, customer data and analytics, and a whole lot more.
However, merely installing a sales enablement platform is only the first step. A PRM system isn’t a “fire and forget” solution; it’s a tool. Like any tool, it needs to be utilized properly for best results. So in today’s blog, we wanted to talk a bit about some of the common mistakes we see in PRM implementation and usage.
Avoid These Three Mistakes When Implementing PRM Sales Enablement Systems
1. Not deleting out-of-date sales materials
It’s all well and good to have a central repository for your sales partners to turn to for advertising and marketing materials. It’s a great resource – but it needs to be properly maintained. We occasionally see partners and customers simply dumping materials into their document repository, without ever cleaning out old and out-of-date information. The result is that the database becomes steadily harder to navigate and find current documentation. In worse case scenarios, partner sales staff may even avoid using the database entirely.
So, you need to stay on top of the sales and marketing materials you put in your document repositories. Periodically audit them, and either delete or segregate out-of-date documents so that the newest information is always the most easily-accessible.
2. Taking a top-down approach to planning and marketing
It’s easy for a top-level vendor to invest in a PRM-style system and think, “There! Now we can manage our partners just like an internal sales division!” And, well, it’s not that simple. Yes, partner sales enablement systems can significantly increase your level of control and oversight of your key partners, but it’s not a true top-down system. Partners may even become resentful if they feel like you’re using software tools to start “muscling in” on areas they believe to be their own domain.
In particular, whenever you’re strategizing or adding marketing materials, always remember that your partners are still independent businesses – and they’re advertising themselves to their customers as such. Remember that sales still happen in a “bottom-up” fashion, and work within that limitation to provide materials and strategies that genuinely excite your partners and their customers.
3. Moving too quickly
We strongly recommend that larger ecosystems use phased deployments when rolling out PRM software, while giving their partners plenty of time to train and adjust. This isn’t just a management issue. Any major software deployment will undoubtedly have bugs and issues. Doing a phased roll-out allows you to spot issues and fix them, before they impact your entire ecosystem.
Likewise, be sure to put an emphasis on training. Even an easy-to-use portal will be confounding for some users, particularly those who have grown accustomed to older methods. Going slowly and making sure that everyone is properly trained on the software will go a long way towards ensuring the deployment is a long-term success.