Skip to main content

What is Partner Relationship Management?

marketing
(Image credit: PhotoMix/Pixabay)

There can be a variety of reasons as to why sales are not as high as they could be. However, during these economically challenging times, with many businesses facing reduced headcount and potentially therefore a smaller in-house direct sales team, implementing an effective Partner Relationship Management (PRM) strategy could provide a welcome revenue boost or even a lifeline for many tech firms.

In many ways PRM is the new kid on the block in sales and marketing that smart business leaders need to capitalise on to succeed. Circa 2000, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) hit the scene and platforms like Salesforce that we all know and use today revolutionised the way companies engaged with their customer base. Roughly 10 years after this, we saw how the rise of data-driven Marketing Automation platforms empowered marketers with granular data insights. Right now, we’re witnessing the next chapter, which is PRM.

About the author

Meshach Amuah-Fuster is Managing Director, EMEA at Allbound

So, what exactly is PRM?

Well, essentially it is all about simplifying the sales process for your partners and making it easier for them to find the information they need to close deals. It lets you optimise relationships with your re-sellers and distributors, giving you more time to spend on other partner channel efforts.

When you consider how much revenue comes from indirect sales, it becomes clear that investing in PRM is as important as identifying the right partners in the first place.

In fact, according to research by Aberdeen Group, businesses that do invest in channel technology such as PRM can experience 48% higher annual revenue growth.

So, what’s the catch?

Well, you need to dedicate a bit of time and attention to fully leveraging your partner network. But if you do, the rewards are great.

PRM is all about developing clear systems, processes and procedures for partners who are selling for you.   

Once everyone gets used to common ways of working, it becomes so much easier to find sales leads and share knowledge.  Partners can self-serve and access crucial product information to advise consumers and use the partner portal to tap into any training options they might need to be even more productive.

Get this strategy right and it becomes much more cost-effective to acquire tech-loving customers and manage and build relationships with them by measuring sales and marketing outcomes.

There are also valuable data reports available which reveal what content is resonating best with partners and leading to deal registrations.

In fact, add all of this together and you will create a partner network that is more engaged in your vision. Both companies and their partners can recognise they can work smarter and can see how everyone is pulling in the same direction.

They want to learn more about your business and your products and, as their knowledge improves, so too does the effectiveness of the message to the end customer that generates loyalty and good reviews.

The key to successfully using partner sales channels has always been the ability to effectively track and manage these partners through effective communication and without the need to individually micromanage. A PRM platform provides internal managers with valuable evidence on how specific partners are performing based on well-defined KPIs and flags up whether they might require any additional training.

The best PRM tools also enable strategic, repeatable onboarding and enablement processes that ultimately set up partners to succeed.

From a partner’s perspective, they are more likely to remain loyal to you if they can see content dedicated to helping them reach their full potential.

PRM and CRM

The link between PRM and CRM is incredibly close, and your partners will welcome a blend of both so they can manage customer relationships and work with you more efficiently.

It is vital to be able to distribute leads and make the most efficient use of marketing budgets.

The one thing your partners will welcome is PRM/CRM technology that works seamlessly together to ensure smooth communication between all parties.

Is PRM needed today?

With the economic outlook so uncertain, there has never been a better time to invest in something that will boost your reach and sales, which is so aligned with our collective new way of working.  After all, the most successful channel programs have hundreds of interactions with partners every month so automating this process is key for scalability.

There is no doubt that interest in PRM has accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic as working patterns have changed.

Why? Well, as businesses cut staff numbers they have come to realise how an effective PRM program is becoming more crucial to success and are giving it more attention. There are no office or salary costs because partners are only paid commission on the revenue they generate.

This shift to remote working and the use of PRM has also levelled the playing field. Start-ups with lower budgets can now compete with the tech big dogs who have relied on the power of their brand to shift products around the globe via their partner network.

Many of the trends we are seeing currently, such as remote working, are likely to continue post-pandemic and increase the demand for effective PRM tools.

For example, the subscription-based model for marketing and selling tech is expanding rapidly. This has generated huge interest in API-based PRM which delivers measurable results based on the user experience. The real-time data it churns out is incredibly valuable.

PRM isn’t a new concept, as CRM wasn’t new when Salesforce entered the market, but organisations’ attitude to it is changing based on market forces and changing business requirements. PRM is not only popular in the hardware and software tech sectors, it is also revolutionising the approach that telecoms, manufacturing, retail, biopharma and other industries take with their channel ecosystems.

Business is ultimately team game, and by helping your partners implement an effective PRM system, you can restructure your network into a winning formula where everybody wins.