While the market for Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software is relatively new, it’s an area that’s attracting plenty of attention for its ability to impact change. There are already several PRM choices which are considered mature, robust, and are being widely deployed. And as indirect sales channels continue to become more important, it seems inevitable that more names will be added to that list in the days to come.
Of course, it’s not enough for a software solution to merely be well known. It still needs to fit your particular organizational goals as well. In many cases, the best solution includes a combination of technology and services. This is where selecting the right PRM provider can become tricky. A successful PRM implementation requires understanding your needs along with the capabilities of the software you’re considering, to ensure the two are in alignment.
So today, we wanted to present a general step-by-step guide for the process of selecting a PRM provider.
Six Steps To A Successful PRM Partnership
1 – Where Are You Now?
Before you can start moving forward, it’s vital to understand where you are now. The first step in selecting a PRM provider is to get a good “big picture” overview of your indirect sales ecosystem as it currently stands.
In what stage of growth is your organization? How many partners do you currently have? How is your partner manager currently doing, in terms of keeping on top of the needs of your business and theirs? What challenges are facing you, and what aspects of your current support systems do you believe are currently holding you back? If you have an existing network of partners, have you taken the time to ask them how you could support them better?
After all, if everything was going perfectly, you probably wouldn’t be looking at investing in new software. Fully understanding your most pressing challenges is key to determining the next steps toward a PRM solution.
2 – Where Do You Hope To Be?
Once you understand the now, it’s time to look to the future. If you don’t have a long-term channel strategy, it’s time to make one! As we’ve discussed before, it’s going to be almost impossible to make an informed decision about PRM until you have a clear strategy in place, because ultimately PRM is nothing more than a tool to enable that strategy.
This is an area worth spending plenty of time. A detailed and well-informed channel strategy won’t only make selecting PRM easier, it will provide ongoing guidance for your organization in the months and years to come. Additionally, when it comes time to start reaching out to PRM providers directly (in Step 4) this will make it much easier to communicate with them and for them to understand what you need as an organization. We understand the complexities of developing an effective channel strategy, and have partnered with some of the most seasoned channel management consulting teams as a result.
READ MORE: Channel Program Blueprint Executive Brief
3 – Survey And Short-List
Here’s the relatively easy part. Once you know where your business is today, and where you want it to go, it’s time to evalaute your options for PRM providers. You should be able to rely on publicly-available materials here. Look for articles discussing various PRM solutions, as well as their own websites, then short-list a handful -maybe three or four- which all look like they could potentially meet your needs.
4 – Make Contacts
Now it’s time to reach out and make contacts at the PRM providers on your short-list. Discuss your needs with sales reps, solicit RFPs, and ask for product demonstrations. This is also the time to start discussing areas such as customization. Could they, for example, provide extra assistance or software packages beyond the standard setup to address very particular needs you have?
Ideally, at the end of this phase, you should have two providers in mind: A primary and a backup.
5 – Stop And Validate
Before going further, it’s time to take a step back and sort through the information you’ve been given. Check the claims made by your chosen provider(s) from Step 4 against the information you compiled in Steps 1 and 2. Are the providers you’re looking at truly going to be able to fulfill most or all of the needs you identified?
If you find yourself torn between two providers, now is also the time to start looking at what one might call value-added features. Ie, “What ELSE can this PRM software do for me?” Go beyond your initial needs and channel strategy, and think about what the various other features of the PRM packages would potentially add to your channel management. Ask your final candidates if they have an option to 'test drive' the solution for a period of time, or provide access to a sandbox environment so you can get a better feel of the system.
It’s a bad idea to let a PRM provider sell you based on features alone. Establishing a successful relationship with that provider, knowing their team and their technology combine to meet your needs, is the ultimate goal here.
6 – Final Negotiations
Once you’re certain that your chosen primary PRM partner is going to be able to meet your needs, and that their software aligns with your long-term goals, it’s time to seal the deal. Enter into final negotiations, iron out any remaining questions about implementation, and make the transition happen!
If you are looking for additional advice for getting started with your new PRM, we’ve broken it down into four easy steps.
Need more advice, or looking for information about LogicBay’s own highly-customizable and easy-to-use PRM system? Contact us today!