As the person responsible for your channel partner relationships, you are always looking for ways to help your partners increase their sales effectiveness. You have a defined focus on driving sales and improving partner engagement, and you are interested in any tools that help. A technology solution like Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software has the scalability to meet your near-term priorities, while being able to grow with your business over time. Below are 7 ways that a PRM solution can improve your channel partner sales productivity.
We recently hosted a webinar on channel revenue growth, and it was a huge success – plenty of participation and great feedback from all who participated. The event was hosted by our own Seth Jacobsen, and featured two fantastic guests: Marty Tascona from Deliberate Selling and Michael A. Brown of BtoBEngage. The result was a talk full of great advice for companies who are both new to the indirect sales market, as well as established members of the community.
The webinar itself is still available online to view, but in case you’re in a hurry, we wanted to put together a ‘highlight reel’ of the most important information conveyed in the next two blogs. Today, we’ll focus on Marty Tascona’s contributions and then in the next blog, we’ll look at Michael A. Brown’s advice.
PRM software is an all-in-one, web-based tool designed to help manage and maintain partner relationships. PRM is easily accessible and ensures each user (vendors and/or partners) has access to the areas they need for success.
Common features of PRM software include:
A single access portal, often cloud-based, and available to everyone in your channel ecosystem.
A database of customer leads.
A centralized communications tool.
A central digital repository of all documentation and marketing materials.
Learn-at-your-own-pace training modules.
Data on your entire channel ecosystem.
A customized, data-based incentive program.
Now that we have defined PRM software and provided information on the common features, let's learn how using the tool can benefit your company.
Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software is becoming a hot topic, particularly as more businesses look to embrace indirect sales models where they rely on sales partners to drive revenue. There are enormous challenges associated with managing a growing channel ecosystem, particularly given how much buyer behavior has changed in recent years.
PRM is the software solution that can make business relationships, and growing your ecosystem more manageable. If you haven’t looked into PRM before, we have put together a brief, two-part guide that will fill you in on its features and why PRM makes sense in a modern indirect sales scenario.
It’s a buyer’s market out there in more ways than one. Due to the proliferation of business startups in recent years, and the vast reach of the Internet, virtually every company is facing more competition than ever before. That’s not just true for B2B or B2C enterprises, but also for indirect-sales organizations seeking to sign up new sales partners.
In the same way that smart marketing today involves aligning sales and marketing efforts to precisely target buyers, a vendor looking to grow their channel ecosystem should also be focused on smart outreach to potential partners. It can’t be a “one size fits all” effort. Because local sales outlets almost always have a wide variety of potential partnerships on the table, they’ll be going with the vendor(s) who can best meet their own business needs.
Of course, having an ideal partner profile is key. From there, the better you can communicate your value proposition to each potential partner, the easier it becomes to create a compelling pitch to bring them onboard.
While indirect-sales organizations have been around for a long time, in recent years they’ve become increasingly attractive to a wide variety of businesses which, previously, had been focused on direct sales. Improvements in communication methods and quicker access to new markets has made channel-based ecosystems much more viable on large scales, while offering fewer trade-offs in terms of loss of oversight and management.
As a result, there is more demand for the best sales partners in your industry, and they can be more selective in choosing which brands want to represent.
Needless to say, a clear value proposition is needed. Your partners will be rightfully asking themselves, "What's in it for me?" They must be convinced, and then continuously reminded, of why it makes good business sense for them to work with you.
One of the philosophies we feel strongly about here at LogicBay is the need to support companies through the various phases of sales channel development. While it’s common to talk about a “sales lifecycle,” it’s far less common to see similar discussions of businesses and their sales partnerships.
However, this belief that sales channels should be treated as growing ‘organisms,’ so to speak, is at the heart of our Partner Relationship Management technology and services. It’s not a platform specifically designed for small, medium, or global organizations. Rather, LogicBay PRM is designed to grow alongside your organization, with scalability to support your efforts at each stage of channel growth.
Specifically, based on our interactions with hundreds of companies since 2003, we have identified four key ‘phases’ of growth: Three which represent the normal, sustained, healthy growth of an ecosystem, as well as a fourth which indicates sub-optimal performance. Our goal is to help support best practices across all these phases, while assisting those that are looking to turn things around.
When a company creates a product or service aimed at a certain niche market, it’s easy for them to get caught up in the potential benefit to the end customer. They offer advice on using the product which may not be realistic, or that doesn’t really mesh with on-the-ground experiences of those using the product. In short, they’re focused on sales pitches over practical utility.
In the case of LogicBay, though, we've decided to practice what we preach, by supporting our own network of channel partners to help drive home the value of a PRM solution. We’d venture to say that part of the reason LogicBay offers such a strong end-to-end PRM solution for our customers is the services our partners offer - coupled with our PRM technology - to create a comprehensive channel program solution.
When a partner comes to us looking for a technology platform to help put their plans into motion, we can immediately demonstrate PRM as a use case, which in turn, helps inform their advice and strategies for their own clients.
One of the toughest challenges facing any Channel Manager is recruiting new sales partners in markets with a high level of competition. These markets may have an excess of vendors competing with you, specifically, or else they offer many different alternative solutions for buyers to choose between. In either case, the more competitive the market, the more you need to work to truly stand out and make yourself attractive to potential channel partners.
In most cases, it's important to always think from the partners’ perspective. As independent organizations, they’re looking out for their own bottom line, just like you are. The better you can understand their needs, motivations, decision-drivers - and figuring out how to support those - the more likely you are to form a successful partnership.
So, you've invested - or are about to invest - in a new Partner Relationship Management platform. A good PRM system will provide a lot of functionality to support your channel program, which means there are some complicated decisions to be made about implementation.
Trying to start using PRM without a plan for how you're going to use it will end up creating a lot of unnecessary challenges down the road. Likewise, simply throwing open the floodgates and trying to implement everything at once will almost inevitably lead to confusion.
While every business's needs will be different, we have some suggestions for how to get started, and which aspects of a PRM solution to focus on early.