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Using PRM Data to Justify Partner Program Investment During an Economic Downturn

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A downturn in the economy and fears of a coming recession often compel business leaders to scrutinize company expenses, weighing the pros and cons of their investments by the ounces.

To balance the books, internal budgets may be cut or programs paused. Layoffs become more commonplace.

Partnerships and channel sales are not exempt from this scrutiny, which is why having the right PRM data is all the more important during times of economic uncertainty. Getting buy-in and continued support from the right stakeholders can help ensure survival during a downturn.

Luckily, the return on investment of a partner program is easily proven – regardless of the market conditions. It’s more critical than ever to transition from direct sales to partnerships during challenging times in the market because it helps lower customer acquisition costs.

Here are some ways to use PRM data to justify your partner program investment.

The State of Partnerships During an Economic Downturn

Inflation, a tumultuous stock market and news of layoffs – particularly in tech in late 2022 and into 2023 – can all be taken as indicators of an economic downturn, fueling fears of a recession. 

While financial upheaval inevitably impacts sales, that doesn’t necessarily mean doom and gloom for partnerships in the same way it can for direct sales models. 

That’s because partnerships can help an organization push through their pain points, especially during times of economic uncertainty.

  • Partnerships lower your customer acquisition costs.

  • Partnerships give you access to new markets, industries and verticals. 

  • Partnerships build trust and positive relationships. 

We recently spoke with Alex Buckles, CEO of Forecastable and Allbound Award Winner, on our podcast about how to pivot to partnerships in the current market conditions. 

Now more than ever, he explained, the cost of direct selling and direct marketing is significant. For many organizations, the investment needed to try to get in front of the customer on a one-to-one basis is simply too high. 

“It’s not a sustainable model,” said Buckles.


We’d better start focusing on lowering customer acquisition costs. We can better arm our customer success organization with access to partnerships so they can start servicing the account without extra support around them that we have to go and fund.

Alex Buckles,

CEO, Forecastable

It is becoming increasingly mission critical for companies to invest more in partnerships as a way to combat shifts in the market.

“You get lower customer acquisition costs, higher NRR [net revenue retention] and higher lifetime value,” continued Buckles.

“There are just so many positives to partnerships and that’s why the CROs who are investing in this – this is why they’re doing it. And [they’re] doubling down on it.”

What Partner and PRM Data Should You Track?

With sales, it’s easy to measure the value – there are sales quotas, for instance. 

With partnerships, it’s more involved. Of course, partner-sourced and partner-influenced sales are part of the equation, but don’t overlook important leading indicators in addition to lagging indicators like bottom-line revenue. 

Customer acquisition costs are key during times of economic downturn.

“If you’re seeing budget cuts, you have to make yourself important,” said Buckles.

“And if you haven’t already proven the lower customer acquisition costs or the higher NRR because of the partner program that you’re rolling out, then you might be in danger.”

If you are not yet measuring customer acquisition costs or NRR, here’s how to start using your PRM’s data:

  • Focus on one part of your partner program to to begin with: one partner or one segment
  • Create a plan to go to market after a specific top number of accounts and predict the result 
  • Measure those results in this pilot project, particularly in terms of customer acquisition costs and net revenue retention
  • Rinse and repeat with another pilot project

If and when budget cuts come up, you are less likely to be impacted if you’re proving the value of your partner program with metrics that matter.

PRM Data Showing Cost Savings For Channel Management

Once you’ve proven the value of your partnership program, you can use PRM data to show how the system supports your program and reduces the overall cost of channel management:

Partner recruitment

An outstanding partner portal is a competitive advantage when trying to bring in new partners to your program and streamlines the process for you.

Partner registration

Manually managing partner registration can be a time suck. Instead, a PRM creates a consistent onboarding process by automating tasks.

Partner training 

Allowing partners to complete training modules on their own time and at their own pace increases completion rates and improves their experience. 

Lead distribution 

Use a PRM system to guarantee fairness when it comes to lead distribution. Plus, automation for these tasks reduces the change of human error.

Deal registration

One of the biggest areas for channel conflict is in deal registrations. Transparency and trust are a must here – and automation helps make that possible without any extra work on your part. 

Winning Over the Right Stakeholders

If you’re running into a roadblock with funding a partner program, the best place to start is by thoughtfully seeking buy-in from leadership.

Start by getting internal stakeholders from other departments on board first because it can be a powerful way to later win over the c-suite.

“When that CRO or that CEO sees that there’s alignment between sales and partnerships, they’re much more likely to go ahead and approve [the program],” explained Buckles.

“After they see all this wonderful collaboration between the two departments, they’re going to look and say, ‘Hey, does this pass the RevOps sniff test?”

For example, work with the VP of Sales or the Chief Sales Officer to run motions in the partner ecosystem during a small pilot and measure the results, particularly in terms of customer acquisition. Make sure to bring in the Revenue Operations team early on for their input and approval. 

It’s also important to revisit your attribution models to make sure that channel sales gets credit for wins, which involves:

  • Choosing the right attribution model: first-touch, last-touch, multi-touch

  • Running reports on partner-related conversions 

  • Using PRM analytics to track user data across multiple interactions and pinpoint successes.

Operationalizing and optimizing every partnership in the ecosystem makes that investment go even further, winning over stakeholders and furthering the return on investment. 

It also pays to present the data in an easy-to-digest format to help make your point and clearly communicate the program’s value. A PRM system like Allbound automatically generates attractive charts and tables from the channel ecosystem data that can be repurposed for internal meetings, as well.

Additional Tactics to Leverage Your PRM Data This Year

How to Optimally Segment Partners – Segmenting your partners based on specific criteria is hugely valuable for both partner performance and engagement, as well as automatically organizing your PRM data into sub-groups for comparison. Here’s how to leverage segmentation in ways that are the most beneficial for you and your partners. 

Expanding Channel Strategy Trends & Early Predictions for 2023 – Here is what’s trending in the partner ecosystem landscape right now from partner enablement to DEI. Plus, we dig into how to best put these strategies into action. 

Innovative Partnership Marketing Strategies for 2023 – The fundamentals of good partnership marketing hold true year over year, but there are always new ways of being great that emerge. Explore topics like evolving your strategies without third-party data, localizing communications, measuring partner-generated brand awareness, and more. 

Repeatable Processes Are the Secret to Partner Operations Success
Partner Operations is the up-and-coming buzz phrase right now. It’s essential, but many organizations are struggling with developing a partner operations team. Learn how to develop the one key piece of PartnerOps: repeatable processes. With the right personnel and technology, you can apply this guiding principle to your PRM data analysis, partner training, co-marketing and more. 

Ali Spiric
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