If your company relies on an indirect sales channel to market and sell its products, the last thing you want is channel partners competing with each other (or your internal sales staff), trying to sell the same products to the same customers. This duplication of effort is not only unproductive, it will drive down prices and profits, not to mention the friction created among employees. Lead management is an absolute must, especially if you also have an internal sales staff.
But managing leads is easier said than done. Although you may offer your channel partners access to a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) for deal registration and to interact with your company, getting them to actually use the system is another thing entirely. Most likely, your channel partners are already using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to record and track their leads (for your brands, as well as the other brands they sell) and they might be loath to add another step to the process. These are the kind of challenges that drive channel managers crazy. They need to somehow extract contact information from the deals their channel partners register, integrate it with their internal leads, and then approve and distribute the leads according to their company’s sales strategy. But if you are able to engage them in the PRM with sales, marketing, and training content that helps them sell more effectively - in addition to registering their deals - then you have increased partner engagement.
A good PRM solution helps alleviate these problems by providing a layer of integration between your channel partners and your own company’s CRM. When a channel partner registers a deal, your company will be made aware of it and can communicate back to your partners to authorize the lead and provide targeted sales support. This ensures that the indirect and direct teams that make up your sales force will never find themselves competing with each other for the same business.
Full-featured partner relationship management software also reduces channel conflict by delineating territories and accounts so all sales personnel understand which accounts and territories belong to them.
How does all this get channel partners to start using their partner portals? When they are engaged with your company—satisfied that your interaction with them will lead to more successful sales—it is likely they will be logging into their partner portals on a more regular basis.
As you can imagine, a CRM is one of many systems you may operate internally that could potentially integrate with your PRM. We speak about the importance of systems integration in depth in our Channel Program Blueprint whitepaper, which you can access here: