There are a ton of partner management software and tools out there purporting to be everything you need to rev up your partner relationships and turn your program into a revenue-generating giant. But not every piece of channel management software lives up to its promise.
Let’s explore how you can evaluate your partner management software—but first things first: Let’s clarify what not to call the piece of software we’re evaluating. If you’re still calling it PRM, you’re a little behind the times (and if a vendor is selling you on a product it’s calling a PRM tool, well, that should give you pause). Like hand-coding a website in HTML and decorating it with flashing, colored text and spinning GIFs, it’s technically still possible, but it gives the appearance of living in the Web 1.0 world we left behind long ago. So let’s start off by banishing that ancient term to the dustbin of enterprise tech history.
Now that we’re having this conversation firmly in the 21st century, let’s move on to the questions that you should be asking of your partner management software to determine if it is capable not just of handling the array of tasks it’s meant to do, but accelerating your partner program by streamlining those tasks.
Gamified learning is becoming the gold standard in allowing people to pick up information quickly. Being able to build out training modules that test your partners on everything they need to know based on their role—from positioning the brand to support features—is key to having a channel that works for you and your partners. Good partner software should be able to facilitate effective trainings, let you monitor how your partners are doing, and then incentivize them to do even better.
Getting up to speed on every aspect of your channel partnership itself, from brand positioning to the expectations you have of your partners and vice versa, is something your software must make easy. There’s a lot to know starting out, and that’s information that can’t be relegated to outdated documents or laid out in PDFs so long that people will never bother to read past the title. Onboarding materials should be engaging, easy to find, all in one place within the software, and easy to work with.
Analytics that measure partner performance are fundamental to driving the choices you make about which partners you stick with, whom you cut, and whom you invest more into to build the overall success of the program. If you’re looking for information, easily laid out and actionable, about how a given partner is performing or how they are all performing in aggregate, and you find out your software just isn’t built to do it—it’s time to think about software that is more geared toward the needs of today’s channel.
Content is the lifeblood of brand positioning—and it costs time, talent, and money to create. So your partner software can't allow your marketing content to be ignored or disappear into a void. You need software that will make sure your marketing content gets in front of your partners—and can let you know they're using it.
The better your channel program gets as a whole, the more partners you’re going to want. So it’s important that there’s no cap on how many you can bring on—you don't want your real-life business relationships limited at the software level! Even if there’s not a hard and fast number of users at which you have to stop, some channel software adds per-user surcharges to a subscription that can make expanding prohibitively expensive. Make sure you’re using software that encourages you to grow.
Channel partnering requires keeping track of a lot of moving parts. But you shouldn’t know it if you’re using a good partner acceleration software. The point of partner software is to make the experience easy and intuitive. It should let people do their jobs positioning and managing your product without having to think about the strategic complexities going on in the background. So if there's a set of features your software is missing, causing you to come up with endless complex workarounds, consider transitioning to one that seamlessly meets all of your needs.
Successful partner programs are ever-growing and ever-changing. The software you use to manage them needs to be as dynamic as the partner program itself. So you need the kind of support, implementation of new features, and responsiveness to your needs from your vendor as your partners and their customers expect from your product.
Now that you’ve answered a few questions to evaluate your software, are you confident that you’re using the right tool to accelerate your channel sales?