Running a partner program isn’t simple but having the right tools for the job does make it easier. Finding the right channel sales software for your company can take some digging, though.
For long-term success, you need to build strong partner relationships and an engaging channel experience.
So, the software solution you choose should integrate with the rest of your tools, support partner automation as well as channel partner marketing automation, and make your program easy to scale.
Ask yourself these questions as you evaluate your PRM software choices to find the right fit for your organization.
Criteria For PRM System Automation
1. What Parts of the Partner Journey Are Automated?
One of the biggest benefits of channel sales software is the automation that goes hand-in-hand with it.
PRM automation facilitates everything from onboarding to sales enablement to content management. By automating tasks, partners receive the materials and answers they need with minimal delay, helping them to progress on their timelines rather than yours. This is key to making your channel program scalable in the long run.
Find out what automation capabilities are available as well as what options you will have to set up group rules and segmentation that support your sales and marketing strategies.
2. What Elements of Partner Management Are Automated?
Strategically deployed PRM automation lessens the demand placed on account managers while simultaneously drawing their focus to where it’s needed most. The right software can automate:
- Email notifications if pipeline performance drops below a predetermined threshold
- Content distribution based on partner types or portal activities
- Unlocking new PRM system capabilities in response to completed tasks
- Blocking deal registrations if a prospect already exists within the greater sales ecosystem
Criteria For Partner Management Scalability and Usability
3. How Easy Is the PRM System to Use?
With so many different groups contributing to and using your partner management system, it’s important to make it easy for your team and your partners to use.
Sales and marketing staff should be able to quickly see deal registrations in real-time as well as update content and landing pages with ease. Likewise, partners want to quickly find the material they need on your portal without having to dig through dozens of irrelevant pages.
The best tools offer intuitive and efficient interfaces for everyone using the PRM system. Can reps access the tool on their mobile devices? Can partners log in, get their tasks done, and log out quickly? Is extensive training needed before new users are up to speed?
Ninety-four percent of Allbound users on G2 Crowd rated Allbound as easy to use.
“The Allbound design is simple and intuitive,” writes one G2 Crowd user, “making it very easy to get partners onboarded and leveraging the portal features quickly. . . . You have a lot of flexibility to get creative with all the ways you can use it.”
4. How Is Partner Onboarding Supported?
Just like support for your internal team is key during the implementation stage, the right software should help you help your partners. Onboarding is a crucial part of partner success, so make sure the platform facilitates easy onboarding and training.
Partners aren’t just looking for a great product to sell – they also need a supportive environment that sets them up for success. A partner portal that provides an intuitive, structured environment with concise learning tracks and automated training is key to making sure your partners can fully use the system.
5. Does the PRM System Foster Partner Engagement?
Your PRM system should provide value to your partners and help create exceptional, engaging experiences across the board. Make it easy for your partners and their customers to do business with them and you. After all, their success is your success.
Look for flexible features that empower and engage your partners at all stages of their journey from recruiting and onboarding to co-marketing and co-selling. This could include, for example:
- Content libraries
- Partner Prospect pages
6. Does the Tool Help Incentivize Partners?
One great way to engage partners is by offering incentives that reward sales activities and performance.
This could be through a gamification module, where you apply points for specific actions – like logging into the portal, engaging with content, or completing training. Offering an immediate, tangible reward can help encourage the right behavior and create healthy competition.
The incentives you can offer are endless from recognition to prizes to increased commissions. Find out what excites your partners and work backward from there.
The right technology is key to running an incentive program, though. You need to be able to track the actions you are rewarding – whether that’s results or actions. A platform that shows rankings or leaderboards keeps everyone on the same page, especially for teams that are working remotely.
7. How Are Deals Registered and Managed?
Knowing what’s coming down the line in terms of leads and deals is crucial information for your team to know. And partners want to understand the status of their lead’s progress within the pipeline, too.
A PRM system can streamline deal management by automating processes and making it easy to track progress in one place from start to finish. This means you can avoid duplicated deal registrations from different partners – a problem that can quickly lead to conflict and confusion.
How do partners register deals? Can you set up notifications to keep everyone in the loop? Are partners able to easily view and understand the progress of their deals?
8. Can You Easily Co-Market With Partners?
But managing all the pieces of a marketing campaign across several teams takes significant coordination and communication. A PRM system can help bring all those pieces into a single place.
Think about how you plan to collaborate with your partners to develop new services, products, or content pieces that will be co-branded. From there, you can plan collaborative promotional activities to increase visibility for both of you.
To make co-marketing easier, look for software that helps you:
- Share marketing assets and co-branded material
- Automate which partner groups can co-brand content
- Create templates for partners
- Manage marketing development funds
- View content performance
Criteria for PRM System Implementation and Integration
9. What Is the Implementation Process and Timeline?
The PRM system software should be easy to implement. Look for a tool that doesn’t require extensive internal resources or reliance on IT specialists to roll out. Does the software provider help with setup, maintenance, and support during implementation? Will your team be able to easily take over after that point?
A straightforward setup makes implementation easier and more streamlined. Timelines and the steps needed to launch should be clear. Will the partner portal be up and running in days? Weeks? Longer?
A fast rollout also means less risk for your organization, faster access for your partners, and a quicker return on your investment.
Allbound users on G2 Crowd enjoy how fast and easy the tool was to set up, with 92% of them rating their experience as positive.
“Our company was searching for a partner portal solution that would be quick and easy to implement: Allbound was all that and more,” writes David B. of Generali. “With a price point that can’t be beat, Allbound has helped our company create a sleek interface, customized to the specific needs of our industry and our business.”
10. Does the PRM Integrate With Your Other Tools?
Look for a solution that can easily connect with the other tools you are currently using.
For example, your partner software should work smoothly with your CRM and allow two-way integration. It needs to consolidate the data and insights in a single place without requiring you to set up extra processes or workflows.
Keeping these tools in sync from the beginning will ensure that your executive team, your sales organization, and your marketing staff stay coordinated and efficient.
Remember, a PRM should make your life easier – not more complicated!
11. What Kind of Customer Support Is Offered?
High-touch support is critical when rolling out a new partner management solution. Whether you run into setup issues yourself, or your partners are having trouble accessing the PRM system, you need to make sure you can get support quickly.
It’s also worth checking that the company has systems in place for collecting and managing customer feedback on the product and is working to incorporate that feedback into the solution.
Does the company’s support team respond quickly to requests? Are there customer-success team members available to help make your experience better? Does the company go above and beyond to make your experience as easy as possible?
G2 Crowd users rate Allbound’s Quality of Support 9.3 out of 10.
“One of the best things about Allbound was the sales process has been consistent with the support,” states one Allbound user in their G2 Crowd review. “I was blown away by the responsiveness of the sales team and was curious if it would continue into support and it truly has—I really feel like I am important to the whole company.”
Additional Criteria for Your PRM Software
12. What Kind of First-Impression Will Your Portal Make On Prospective Partners
An attractive partner portal design is a powerful recruitment tool. After all, you’re not the final end-use of your PRM system – it’s your partners! Therefore, it should exude overall professionalism, display your brand colors, and have an intuitive layout.
Partners will specifically want easy content retrieval, co-branding capabilities, deal management tools, and polished prospect pages that will ultimately help them reach success.
13. What Metrics Are Measurable?
Knowing what’s working by keeping an eye on channel partner performance gives you the information you need to make informed decisions about how and where to improve.
But actually tracking those numbers can be a different matter. Start by identifying your KPIs, which should include leading indicators of success like partner engagement as well as lagging indicators like revenue.
When you’re looking for a PRM system, make sure it provides all the data you’ll need to measure success and opportunities for improvement.
Can you drill down into channel growth, engagement actions, deal data, and pipeline health with the one tool? Can you segment that data by partner type or tier? What kind of insights will you have about partner engagement? Make sure that any PRM you consider tracks these 13 channel performance metrics.
14. What Is the Cost As Your Partner Program Grows?
Think about pricing and, particularly, the cost as your partner program expands.
Try to choose a program that doesn’t charge more for each new user. Although your partner program might start small, it can quickly expand to hundreds of users in a few short months. Keep your costs in check by choosing a PRM system with a flat monthly fee for unlimited users to make scaling affordable.
Looking at G2 Crowd reviews, Allbound’s pricing and integrations meet the requirements of 86% of Allbound users.
“The largest benefit to our team has been scale,” writes Optimizely’s Robertson. “We can now support a larger number of Partners through the portal and our Community Partner Program.”
15. How Quickly Will You See a Return on Investment?
A unified partner management solution lets you do more with less. By making it easier for your partners to sell, your revenue will grow more quickly, and you’ll see a positive return on your investment in the tools earlier.
When comparing PRM systems, be clear about your goals from the onset. This will help set expectations about how quickly your company will begin seeing a return on your investment and prioritize the solutions that provide the most value.
That means using a system that is easy to set up and use, supports automation throughout the partner journey, and is scalable as your program expands.
16. Is the PRM Headed in the Right Direction?
As the partner management space continues to grow and change, you need to know that your chosen solution can keep up with the market. Switching platforms can be costly and time-consuming, so it’s important to understand whether the product is heading in the right direction.
Is the company taking into account customer feedback when they make changes? Do customers have access to a product roadmap? Are product updates communicated effectively?
Choosing the right PRM solution—one that meets your requirements, is easy to implement and maintain, and, most importantly, provides a positive return on your investment—isn’t easy. But it is worth it.
Leverage Your Software to Build an Engaged Partner Program
Great partnerships are built on great relationships. Your PRM system should help you make more sales but also build stronger relationships between you and your partners.
The best software and the most technologically advanced tools will only go so far in helping you build a successful channel partner program. Even more important is a clear strategy and strong framework.
In our new guide to building a partner program from scratch, we explore the best ways to leverage what you have to increase partner engagement and improve channel sales.
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- How to select the right partners for your program - November 8, 2023