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What is PRM – How to Define Partner Relationship Management

What is a PRM? The simple definition is that a partner relationship management (PRM) is a platform used to automate the channel partner lifecycle. However, the reality is much more complex. To learn more about general best practices, read The Ultimate Guide to Partner Relationship Management

Channel Account Managers (CAMs) must account for onboarding, training, co-branding materials, content management, deal registration, performance analysis, marketing strategies, and channel conflict. Plus, channel leaders must consider how they can scale their success in order to grow revenue.

More often than not, the solution is to implement PRM software, a partner-facing portal that centralizes communication, tracking, and management. This tool allows you to automate partner onboarding, training, co-branding, content management, deal registration, and gain deep analytics into the health of your channel. The ingredients to successful partnerships are strong communication, transparent performance metrics, and joint marketing efforts.

So what is a PRM? The short version of the question is that a PRM is a platform used to automate the channel partner lifecycle. However, we think that this question deserves a much more nuanced explanation. To learn about the many elements that merge to create a state-of-the-art PRM, keep reading!

Improved Onboarding Through Organization and Automation

Your PRM is a resource available to new partners 24/7 to answer all questions and facilitate their learning. Significant onboarding benefits include:

Structured partner onboarding within the platform. Newcomers will be able to view training materials on their schedule without heavy involvement from your team. You can use the PRM to classify partners so the portal only serves selective access to materials that directly apply to beginners (rather than overwhelming them with the entirety of your library).

Automation of onboarding workflow using PRM software. Leverage automation to guide new partners through the many training and onboarding steps. PRM features that make this possible include:

  • Behavior-triggered notifications to direct them through the early stages of the partner training within the PRM
  • Multi-step learning tracks in which training naturally build on top of one another
  • Quizzes which, if participants pass, will unlock new materials and capabilities within the PRM

Early-performance tracking. You can view an individual partner’s portal logins and content engagement to determine which partners put forth the effort and who are not fully committed. Similarly, you can view their quiz results so you can understand what concepts they may struggle to understand. Such insights can make one-on-one conversations particularly productive and help you further earn partners’ interest and trust.

Other Onboarding Tips: 

Finesse the onboarding process with input from multiple teams. Onboarding is a crash course in the many nuances that make up your brand. For the best (and most accurate) learning experience, invite members of Direct Sales, Marketing, Product Development, and Operations to contribute to the partner training courses. Clearly delegate which teams are responsible for producing specific materials and hold them to deadlines; otherwise, partner-serving content may tumble down their lists of priorities. 

Communicate a clear roadmap. At no point should your partners be left to muse, “what now?” The roadmap should make clear what milestones they should achieve by when. This should include the preferred timing for the completion of training, content interactions, sales activities, and registered deals. 

Create a channel partner welcome kit complete with essential information and a tutorial on interacting with the portal. This not only reinforces the newcomers’ positive first impression but limits the number of one-off questions you would have to answer.

PRM Partner Enablement Activities 

Your PRM doubles as a channel enablement software, ultimately guiding partners towards greater revenue. Key features include: 

Playbooks to guide partners’ sales conversations. Channel sales reps are the face of your brand. Therefore, you must empower them with playbooks on how to handle certain sales situations. By providing multiple content sets focused around specific audiences or products, you equip partners to represent your brand with your messaging.

Prospect pages for easy, professional communication. Your partners aren’t the only ones who benefit from centralized communication. Your PRM’s sales prospect pages create a singular destination that houses all relevant resources and partner contact information (compared to a series of disjointed emails). What’s more, every time a partner registers a deal to create a new prospect page, they prompt your PRM to automatically suggest relevant playbooks. 

Minimization of conflicts with concise deal registration processes. Real-time, precise deal registration software that integrates with your CRM is crucial for minimizing channel conflict. After all, your PRM can clarify who entered the prospect into the system first to eliminate all ambiguity. Click here for more ways to resolve channel conflicts

Other Sales Enablement Tips: 

Employ SPIFF campaigns to promote products or temporarily boost revenue. Who doesn’t love the thrill of competition? Give your partners added incentive to promote your services with a short-lived contest. For further inspiration, check out 7 Steps to Creating a SPIFF Program to Incentivize Channel Partners.

Update your playbooks regularly. The questions prospects asked your partners three years ago may have been supplanted with an entirely new set of concerns. Work with Direct Sales to fine-tune strategies that address the latest technology, world events, and industry shifts. 

Consider giving your most promising partners their first few leads. While you won’t collect 100% of the profit, this one-off show of generosity can go a long way to cementing their program loyalty and enthusiasm. 

Partner Marketing Capabilities Within Your PRM

Partners can play a crucial role in generating buzz for your brand and products, particularly amongst new audiences. Your PRM software includes channel marketing features that augment this opportunity while simultaneously putting in place guardrails to prevent misrepresentation. 

Co-branding capabilities within the partner portal. Partners can add their logo to pre-approved materials in a way that presents a consistent, professional aesthetic. Plus, you can restrict the co-branding of premium materials to partner tiers (i.e., gold tier partners who have completed all learning tracks). Without a PRM tool, this process can be time-consuming and slow, as it requires your team to manually add the logo and send multiple emails back and forth for each individual request.

MDF automation and tracking. Market development funds (MDF) are the financial support you grant partners to promote your products better. But how do you know whether you’re spending your money wisely if you can’t tie marketing strategies to revenue? With a PRM tool like Allbound, you can easily analyze which marketing efforts led to improved deal registrations and which bore no noticeable impact. Additionally, automating MDF requests within the PRM expedites the process for all involved by eliminating paperwork and back-and-forth emails.


Content marketing management. Your PRM enables easy organization and distribution of content marketing materials. Promote new pieces on the dashboard homepage, tag specific pieces for relevant groups, and capabilities like the search bar and content pinning let partners find their favorite pieces time and time again.

Other Partner Marketing Tips:

Collaborate directly with select partners. Ideas include inviting them onto your company’s podcast (or vice versa), co-hosting an event, co-authoring a piece of content, or joining forces to conduct a survey. 

Communicate appropriate KPIs to measure a campaign’s success. A co-branded infographic won’t nurture the same kind of interactions as a product demo video. Therefore, make sure you and the participating partner are on the same page about timelines, responsibilities, and measurable goals.

PRM Integrations

Integration with your existing tech stack. Allbound believes that your PRM platform should seamlessly work in conjunction with your CRM and existing tech stack. Our integration capabilities help bridge gaps between tools for a robust view into your overall sales channel.

Easy-to-Understand PRM Data to Inform Business Decisions

Built-in charts to visualize trends and assign meaning to data. What good is raw data if you can’t comprehend its significance? A PRM tool helps you visualize data for easier tracking of partner program health and influence of different marketing campaigns. 

More importantly, partner program KPIs can reveal how your strategy progresses over time and potential weak spots in the partner journey. After all, there’s a long road between a partner onboarding and generating revenue, and failure to measure the many twists and turns will lead to a shallow understanding of the channel. Examples of important questions to ask yourself include:

  • How many of my onboarding partners complete the training? 
  • How do different partner groups compare to one another regarding portal engagement and generating revenue?
  • Which content—playbooks, content marketing, training lessonsis most effective in accomplishing its set goals? 
  • What content do partners click/pin the most? The least?
  • How many registered deals end up converting? At what stage do prospects disengage? 
  • What is my program’s attrition rate?
  • Which products do partners sell the most? The least? 

A PRM’s channel sales insights feature should let you answer these queries (and more) for individuals, separate partner groups, and the ecosystem as a whole. Knowledge in hand, you can dock processes and content that fail to deliver, focus on opportunities for improvement, and double-down on proven strategies. What’s more, you can justify such decisions (and spending) to other teams with automatically generated charts.

What Are Other Benefits of a PRM

The above article dove into the benefits of individual PRM features. However, there are other compelling advantages that are worth acknowledging. 

A first-rate PRM is a recruitment tool for partners. To join a channel program is a time investment, so prospective partners will want reassurances that it will be profitable. The utilization of a best-in-class PRM conveys your company’s willingness to support partners, on the whole. What’s more, it minimizes process barriers so your onboarding messaging takes center stage in their minds. 

Overall greater efficiencies through strategic automation. A PRM tool frees up channel account managers to focus on big-picture strategies and building valuable relationships rather than sifting through co-branding requests, easy questions, and spreadsheet updates. This yields greater tactical gains and allows for scalable growth.  

Adaptable solution for future growth. As your partner program grows at scale (which is the goal), you will quickly find that manual processes that worked for a 10-partner program won’t bring the same results for 100 partners. Alternatively, PRM solutions are designed for quick adaptation to new audiences, new verticals, etc. 

Consistency amongst partners and internal teams. PRMs naturally systemize procedures, whether it be co-branding output, opportunity measurement, or content organization. This helps make your program near-immune to the hiccups of internal turnover and conflicting promotional messaging amongst partners. 

Unification of your program to “connect the dots.” One software solution will house your onboarding, deal registrations, MDF spending, content distribution, and every other element of your partner program. This strategic consolidation streamlines tool costs, simplifies processes, and helps illustrate a complete picture when analyzing data. 

A platform experience that meets the current standards. Your PRM provider should make regular updates to provide you and your partners with enhanced capabilities and adherence to the latest portal design best practices. Comparatively, in-house developers will have their attention divided between multiple projects, often letting the partner platform user experience grow outdated.

Bottom Line: What is PRM? An Opportunity to Diversify and Grow

An increasing number of tech-based companies invest in channel partners to sell their SaaS products. If you’re interested in joining their ranks for accelerating your existing program, see how a PRM tool can strengthen and automate elements of your channel strategy.

Ready to start shopping for partner portal software? Read Automate, Scale, Integrate – PRM System Criteria for guidance on what to look for in a tool.

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Tags: Blog
Ali Spiric