Growing your channel partners but not seeing the same rate of sales growth? If the right tools are not in place to coordinate and optimise activity, then it can be difficult to measure their impact. That’s why businesses of all sizes are looking for more modern and efficient ways to manage and grow their partners.
You may not be too familiar with Partner Relationship Management or PRM, but as businesses rely more and more on their partners for stability and growth, that’s about to change. With expanding channel ecosystems made up of partners, resellers, consultants, advisors, distributors, MSPs and more, businesses are turning to PRM to optimise these relationships to sell products and solutions on their behalf.
Allbound PRM gets you closer to your partners, transforming the partner sales process to increase the quality of your sales funnel, keep your pipeline full and increase revenue.
In this eBook we’ll uncover what PRM tools can do for you and your channel partners, the key business drivers, and the core components of scalable and sustainable PRM software. With useful how-to advice to help you review your existing PRM, build a new programme from scratch and get the best out of your partners.
65.2% of organisations use at
least one partner tech system.
– State of Partner Ops and Programs 2022
01. What is PRM?
376% increased partner engagement
Chances are you’ve never heard of Partner Relationship Management or PRM until recently. As our reliance on channel partner sales has increased, so has the need to build a modern sales and marketing tech stack.
Similar in principle to Customer Relationship Management (CRM), with its main focus on managing customers, PRM conversely is for managing channel partners, with a much stronger emphasis on the ‘relationship’ aspect.
PRM in the beginning
Originally designed as a sales ledger to help channel managers track, manage and support their partners, PRM was the main channel management software in the late 1990s/early 2000. However, as channel programmes grew more complex and varied, so did PRM, resulting is bespoke partner portals, complicated processes, disconnected systems, and inefficient tools.
PRM today and into the future
Today, however, a subscription-based model for marketing and sales technology has taken over and channel partner programmes have a new lease on life. As a result, a new generation of API-based PRM tools have taken the industry by storm due to their ability to deliver real, measurable results. These tools focus on user experience, partner engagement, collaboration, integration, and real-time intelligent data.
Today’s complex business-to-business (B2B) sales cycles demand more from channel technology, because:
- The workforce is becoming increasingly younger and more mobile
- Cloud-based subscription models are dominating the industry
- Buyers are using more information sources than ever
It’s no longer a case of integrating pieces of channel technology into your marketing and sales stack, as this creates complex, expensive hybrid platforms. Maintaining, disjointed siloed systems seriously challenges the effectiveness of your channel partner programme, making these types of outdated systems no longer powerful enough on their own.
Today’s generation of simple, powerful API-based PRM tools are the future of channel sales and marketing – and critical to successful partnership programmes.
Emerging from traditional PRM systems, these true SaaS platforms enable businesses to deviate from the chaos and expense of traditional or hybrid-SaaS software. They also substantially decrease the costs associated with extensive customisation, service and support. These cloud-based tools take the idea of the outdated partner portal and turn it on its head by accounting for the entire sales and marketing ecosystem. Modern partner relationship management is about the data, big data – and analysing it across disparate departments to learn what is most successful.
Bringing it all seamlessly together is what makes modern PRM so powerful in today’s complex and competitive channels and markets – with the ability to develop channel partner programmes around real, hard facts.
02. Five Key Drivers for Adopting a PRM System
Approaching today’s channel demands without the right tools is like trying to perform complex, high-speed tasks on dial-up internet. So alongside dealing with more complex channel partner programmes, here are the five drivers for adopting a scalable PRM system:
- Brand building
- Centralise to optimise
- Productivity and performance
- Visiblity and ROI
As we become more reliant on our partners for stability and growth, businesses are turning to PRM to streamline and future-proof their partner management processes. Forming partner alliances for strategic expansion into new markets and territories or to reach new audiences within existing markets or both.
Either way, the impact of using a PRM system is immediate as it creates a clear structure for partners, making it easy for them to find all the materials, insights and training needed to be successful. Providing structure and autonomy also drives stability across the partner base which allows for expansion and scalability. Processes are standardised, tracked and analysed to optimise workflows, helping businesses understand what successful partners are doing so they can share these best practices with new partners as they come onboard.
It also makes it easy for your partners to amplify your marketing messages. Reaching tens of thousands or even millions, you can promote your brand to a much larger audience leading to expansion at a low price.
Maintaining one consistent brand voice and image to customers via multiple partners, requires a consistent, automated approach, otherwise you risk diluting your brand rather than building it. A regularly engaged partner programme, with clear partner expectations and target goals, leads to successful brand building.
By keeping the information up to date within the PRM system, your company will have the clearest picture of how to move forward with channel partners – and they will have no doubts as to what is expected from them and how they can move forward with end customers. Your brand identity and reputation remains consistent as partners have all the tools and information they need to for marketing and communications.
For example, Allbound’s PRM portal’s integrated document management system, gamification, automated comms and tracking enable partners to successfully build relationships and business
with customers and prospects. This has been particularly helpful since Covid and the introduction of new remote ways of working.
Centralise to Optimise
PRM systems help the onboarding process through a centralised location for all information. Automating previously manual processes improves the user experience, as it takes the heavy lifting away from partners and makes their lives easier. Plus, a happy and educated partner is going to provide a better experience to the customer they’re selling to.
Allbound PRM is personalised and optimised for each partner to drive collaboration and
efficiencies across all aspects of the partner experience, from content management, lead
distribution, deal registration, marketing development, promotions, pricing and sales analytics.
Productivity and Performance
In general, the more partners you have, the more difficult it is to manage them manually across different spreadsheets and tools. Plus, as your business grows and the number of partners onboarded increases, those disparate tools do not scale easily – if at all. PRM means your team can do more by using automation over spreadsheets.
The automation of otherwise menial tasks frees your internal team to support more partners. What’s more, partners are able to independently progress on their time without relying upon their account manager to answer emails at every stage. Your team is happy, your partners are happy, and you have sophisticated automated processes on which your programme can achieve
Allbound PRM lets you automate strategic elements of partner management while simultaneously enhancing the portal user experience. For example, you can create partner groups based on industry, language and tiers, and determine which content they should (and shouldn’t) see within their content library. You can build optimal workflows between different training modules and post-deal registration playbooks, and you can set up the PRM to automatically unlock new features, like co-branding and MDF request forms when partners achieve in-portal milestones, such as passing a quiz.
Improving the partner experience, increases partner productivity and in turn improves the customer experience, for better performance and results all-round
Visibility and ROI
Working with multiple partners needs supervision, tracking and results management. Businesses need a clear view of all sales activity – direct and indirect together – to avoid duplication and to focus the right amount of effort in the right places.
A centralised partner portal, like Allbound PRM helps bring this all together. By having collaboration tools, dashboards and integrations with your other business tools, it means that ROI from your partners, the programme and from the PRM system itself is transparent and easy to measure. PRM allows sales to focus their time on strategic rather than administrative work, and the improved partner experience drives better performance with increased sales and engagement.
All in all resulting in incremental revenue generated that gives a PRM solution payback period of less than 1 year and year 1 ROI of 150%.
Organisations driving 26% or more revenue from partners are most likely to have a PRM programme that programmatically allocates most of their resources.
STATE OF PARTER OPS AND PROGRAMS 2022
03. Five Ket Components of Modern PRM
Today’s generation of simple, powerful PRM tools are the future of
channel sales and marketing – and here are five critical components
of the Allbound platform:
1. A Healthy Pipeline of Potential Partners
- Fill the funnel with quality over quantity. This can be a challenge for any size channel programme. Keeping your pipeline filled with qualified prospects is difficult and complex to manage accross direct and multiple indirect partners. PRM helps keep this organised, with consistently high quality.
- Give partners transparency into their pipeline. Failing to do so can result in inaccurate commissions and revenues. That’s why it’s essetial to enhance your partner practices and pipeline withy our PRM tools.
- Nurture leads at all stages of the sales cycle. While your customer relationship management (CRM) software may provide some visibility into the lead management process, your PRM tools should integrate with your CRM to provide a holistic view of the entire pipeline.
- Increase forecasting and partner support. It’s important your tools provide targeted support to your partners at specific stages of the sales cycle. This enables management to identify gaps and challenges in the sales process and address them swiftly and effectively.
2. Partner Enablement and Onboarding
- Use strategic onboarding and enablement. Partner onboarding and enablement is critical for PRM tools. Effective PRM programmes establish communication guidelines and provide partners with the right information at the right time, thereby setting partners up for success.
- Encourage partner engagement and loyalty. A PRM platform is a partner recruitment tool. It can help you show partners that there is content dedicated to them and that you care about their process/leads/customers they bring and enables them to be the most successful they can be.
Below is what successful partner onboarding and enablement should look like:
1. Outline benefits and automate the application process
2. Provide a warm welcome and once partners are ready
to start, schedule a kickoff call
3. Provide partners with necessary credentials
4. Establish goals and expectations
5. Organise training or workshops to ensure information is retained
6. Simplify the process with consolidated tools and technology
7. Empower partners with co-branded marketing content
3. A Great Partner Training Programme
- Provide consistent and optimised training. Ensuring your partners are ready to sell is only one step in building and maintaining engaged, productive channel partners. Once your partners are ready to sell, it’s time to start training.
- Ensure content is available anytime, anywhere. Your PRM platform should present content and information in a way that resonates with your partners and ensures they can access it anytime, anywhere. In addition to providing accessible knowledge, your training should include examples of how it relates to everyday tasks in that person’s job role.
To ensure you’re getting the most from your partner systems, we suggest that you ask the following:
- Does your partner portal simplify onboarding and set your partners up for success?
- Does your partner portal enable you to keep channel reps up-to-speed with courses you create?
- Are you able to align training content and programmes back to your sales process?
- Can you offer certifications within training to help your partners succeed?
- Can you create quizzes to keep your partners up-to-date?
- Does your portal incorporate gamification to keep partners engaged?
4. Stand-Out Channel Marketing Content
- Align the buyer’s journey and your sales funnel. Your content must empower indirect reps to meet the needs of your end users. Arrange content into playbooks based on verticals, personas, life-cycle stage and business outcomes to take some of the heavy lifting from your partners.
- Provide access to the right people at the right time. PRM tools improve end-user engagement with marketing content by making content discoverable, rankable, shareable and usable.
- Build brand potency. It’s important for your brand, messaging and content to remain consistent throughout every customer touchpoint every customer touchpoint and stage of the sales cycle. PRM, especially Allbound’s with customisable co-branding capabilities, help maintain your brand equity.
- Turn your partners into thought leaders. Providing your partners with the appropriate content can transform them into teachers. They become sources of education information, rather than people who simply repeat a tagline. They become problem solvers who understand and champion prospects through challenges they face.
5. Adequate Internal Support and Resources
- Align support systems and resources. Today’s increasingly complex sales landscape demands that organisations work to eliminate the sales and marketing barrier. From collaborating on marketing collateral to talking with clients and signing deals, both marketing and sales are engaged in promoting conversions.
- Align enterprise tools and technology. Aligning your organisation’s disparate departments around your tools and technology prevents confusion and ensures that everyone is consistently receiving relevant information. PRM tools provide your team with the ability to create a steady flow of creative campaigns driven by results.
- Support your partners. Supporting your partners is step one in creating a successful channel sales programme. However, finding the time in the daily scheme of business operations to provide consistent support can be a challenge. It’s critical to have an accurate overview of your organisation’s current capabilities and reosurces.
- Empower your partners. When your business relies on partners, it’s vital to empower them to sell better and more efficiently. Make every engagement between you and your partners – and between your partners and their prospects – simpler, productive, rewarding and engaging.
04. Your PRM Toolkit: How to Build an Engaging PRM Programme
It can be time-consuming managing so many moving parts manually and it’s nearly impossible to scale efficiently without the right PRM system in place. Spreadsheets are great for some tasks, but not as well suited for wide scale relationship management. So, to help you get started, try our Partner Marketing Plan Checklist and follow our useful five-step process:
- Budget – Write a business case and get budget approval. You can use our Business Case Template to help structure your business case.
- IT – Check IT for integration requirements. Try our Channel Health Quiz to help assess your current needs against your future needs.
- Recruit – Build your partner ecosystem by onboaridng new partners. Use our Partner Pitch Presentation Template to get the right partners on board.
- Nurture – Engage partners and grow the channel through relationships. Use our scorecard template to help you assess partner engagement post onboarding and keep the programme on track. Click here for some examples of great partner pages that increase partner engagement.
- Measure – Track ROI to compare partner success. Our ROI calculator tool will come in handy at this stage.
05. Driving Deal Results with Allbound
Allbound is a global PRM specialist with offices in US, Europe and APAC. Consistently titled a Leader in Partner Relationship Management Software by G2, recognised as PRM leaders by Gartner, Forester and Canalys, and highly recognized in CRN/Channel Co and Channel Marketer Report.
Whether you’re launching a new partner programme from scratch or growing an existing programme, using Allbound’s PRM will help you efficiently coordinate the management of your partners for better results. With Allbound it’s better together, because the people, processes, and technology driving your channel’s success are optimised to deliver real, measurable outcomes. That’s the Allbound way. A way you – and your partners – can excel in.
The results-driven ingenuity of Allbound’s next generation platform and our proven track record of helping channel leaders reach their goals quarter-after-quarter, year-after-year, is what’s earned Allbound our reputation as the industry’s leader in PRM.
VP of Marketing
The Allbound Way
- Seamless integrations to your existing technology stack
- Painless onboarding
- Unlimited users, partners, and content storage
- Automated comms and tracking
- Customisable marketing templates
- Best-in-class document management system
- Automatic tracking & reporting dashboard of channel performance metrics
- Dedicated Customer Success Manager
- Convenient, all-in-one portal with intuitive UX
- Insights reports to strategically optimise and drive improvement
Reinvent your partner program today with Allbound
Simplify Channel Management and Increase
Partner Engagement with Allbound.
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