Why Your Partner Sales Program Needs a PRM Tool
Partner Relationship Management (PRM): A Necessary Step For Sales Growth
It’s natural for companies to wonder whether a PRM solution is even necessary for the channel to thrive. After all, they may have significantly more customers in their current pipeline than participating sales partners, making it hard to justify purchasing a designated PRM tool.
However, such thinking only considers the status quo rather than potential growth. As competitors increasingly adopt PRM software, your ability to recruit and retain partners will only slip.
increase in program size since launch
saved in platform costs after switching to Allbound
increase in partner referral revenue
Learn Why PRM Tool Adoption is Crucial to
Channel Partner Program Growth
PRM Software Benefits Your Partner Program
An attractive partner management tool boosts recruiting
Experienced professionals assess more than the products when determining whether to join a partner program. After all, if the company fails to find efficiencies and solidify processes, it hurts the partners’ own selling abilities.
An elegant PRM tool immediately conveys the following to prospective partners to earn their confidence:
- You will invest in their success
A PRM tool costs a company more than spreadsheets, but the returns are tenfold. Prospective sales partners will see your steadfast commitment to the program and supporting their long-term success.
- You have solutions in place to help them make money
As great as your product may be, it won’t just sell itself. Your partners need the proper training and marketing assets to positively portray your company and offerings. A comprehensive PRM like Allbound puts such resources and automated tools at their fingertips.
- You put your best foot forward so they can do the same
Which of the following sales experiences is preferable: an email thread with attachments, or a dedicated URL with a headshot and regularly updated file thumbnails?
PRM software solutions automate onboarding and ongoing training to benefit both partners and yourself
When done right, onboarding entails more than merely an hour-long meeting followed by an emailed folder of materials. A quality partner management tool will offer multi-tiered learning tracks that guide newcomers through training videos, PDFs, and other modules.
Push notifications remove ambiguity about which lessons the partners should absorb next, and quizzes can further cement their newfound knowledge.
Why does PRM tool automation help new partners?
A PRM tool empowers partners to learn at their preferred speed when most convenient for them. The more they master, the more materials they can unlock.
What’s more, access to a searchable library will make it easier to find answers when needed most. Compare this to the frustration of digging through PDFs buried in their inbox or emailing you the question and waiting for your response.
Best yet, PRM automation ensures that partners are never left aimlessly clicking around the tool, unsure of how to engage. Key behaviors like completing a quiz or registering a deal can trigger the software to instantly suggest next steps based on the workflows you shape. If partners fail to log into the PRM tool for a certain number of days or leave important tasks incomplete, you can even automate the software to send email reminders.
Why does PRM tool automation help you?
Onboarding removes the repetitive and unnecessary communications from your to-do list, allowing you to use your one-on-one time with partners to focus on nurturing relationships. You will also have additional time to dedicate to recruitment and fleshing out strategies that will improve the program as a whole.
The right PRM tool improves partner communication and management efficiencies
Think of your partner program like a breathing organism: your partners are like limbs and you are the beating heart that circulates life. When the flow of information to-and-from the appendages slows or ceases entirely, the entire body suffers.
Similarly, it’s your responsibility to meet your partners’ time-sensitive needs or convey important advice in ways easily accessed and understood. If you fail, you risk losing the relationship.
Examples of ways a PRM tool strengthens communication and processes
- Predetermine which types of partners can access select materials
Your partners are not alike. It’s important to share content that pertains exclusively to their language, industry, title, and experience level. If you give access to too many irrelevant materials, you can potentially overwhelm or mislead them.
- Co-branding tool for faster results
Let partners co-brand materials within the platform right when they need them rather than submitting a request to you. You can dictate who can add their logo to which documents, ensuring that you maintain control of your brand and messaging without being directly involved.
- MDF templates
Ask partners to complete a digitized form when requesting marketing development funds. In turn, you receive all pertinent information in a single submission rather than over a lengthy series of messages.
- Centralized communication within the platform with email notifications
We’re all guilty of occasionally passing over important emails, particularly if we’re juggling a growing roster of contacts. A high-caliber PRM tool organizes crucial communications like MDF requests and deal registrations into respective sections. You can check them when you’re most prepared, as well as receive reminder emails to keep you accountable.
Strengthen partners’ selling abilities with prospect pages and sales playbooks
You’d be wrong to think that a PRM tool only improved communication between you and program participants.
A comprehensive portal sets partners up for success with the following:
- Prospect pages
Partners can share materials with prospects using a stylized portal page that spotlights their headshot and contact information.
They can revise the on-page messaging and links to reflect the latest shared conversations and progression through the pipeline. This provides a strong first impression to prospects while eliminating the messiness of multiple email threads.
Not all customers are alike, but experience reveals which questions frequently arise, as well as common priorities shared by different types of prospects. Playbooks make it easy to pass these insights to your sales partners so they can represent your products like a seasoned pro.
A sophisticated PRM solution like Allbound leverages the Deal Registration feature to track a prospect’s maturation and suggest the most appropriate playbook.
Prevent partner conflict with real-time deal registration
The most common reason for partner conflict is that two or more program participants lay claim to the same sales prospect. The problem is greatly exacerbated if they have both put significant resources into nurturing the relationship, unaware of their duplicated efforts.
In regards to resolving conflicts, nothing works better than transparency, honesty and being timely. Resolving issues immediately earns the respect of your partners. Even when the resolution may not be in a particular partner’s favor, knowing that the problem is addressed upfront prior to consuming their time and being transparent in why you came to a certain conclusion always seems to be respected by all parties involved.”
Ken Tripp, Director of Channel Accounts at Netwrix
A PRM tool can stop conflicts before they even start with real-time deal registration. The moment someone registers a prospective deal, the system updates to prohibit anyone else from enrolling the same opportunity. Therefore, one of your partners won’t waste too much time and should fully understand that someone else initiated contact first.
For added visibility and sales cohesion, choose a PRM solution that integrates with your existing CRM. This will prevent partner deals from registering if they already exist within other pipelines.
Enriched engagement and partner retention through meaningful PRM tool interactions
In our eBook, Six Partner Actions Proven to Increase Retention 10x, we divulge statistics based on tracked partner engagement across all platform participants. The key takeaway? Initial portal engagement is a strong determinant in long-term program participation.
- Partners who visited two articles within the PRM platform are twice as likely to continue visiting the portal 12-weeks out from their initial enrollment.
- Partners who create a prospect page are more than 2x as likely to engage long-term than those who don’t.
- Partners who access playbooks twice are 1.6x more likely to continue logging into the portal after 12 weeks. Those that leverage playbooks seven times are 300% more likely to remain active than those who never utilize one.
In light of these insights, partner programs should:
- Prioritize building out a robust, complete experience within their PRM solution (rather than have onboarding be de-centralized across multiple forms of communication)
- Provide participants with a thorough walkthrough of the various PRM tool features to inspire interactions
Make portal engagement part of their channel partner scorecard, as well as a regular talking point during one-on-one partner check-ins.
PRM tools connect data points to extract meaning and
Data—everyone knows they need it, but not everyone knows what to do with it.
The right PRM tool will collect data on your behalf and, more importantly, create meaningful connections between KPIs.
Drill down to see which playbooks assist with the most conversions. Alternatively, gain a macro-level perspective of your pipeline to pinpoint where you suffer the most attrition. These data points illuminate ways to improve your PRM content, marketing spending, and partner criteria.
You can configure your PRM solution to send email notifications if performance meaningfully declines. This lets you respond quickly while near-eliminating the need to manually check pipeline health on a regular basis.
Visualized program growth with shareable charts
To quote Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message.
How you present your PRM data is nearly as influential as the data itself. Allbound automatically renders polished charts and tables you can download to share directly with your leadership team and sales partners.
Whether you’re creating slides for a board meeting or compiling content for a newsletter, the visuals convey important points with immediate clarity. Plus, you can skip the time-consuming task of manually rendering charts and present your hard work in the best possible light.
Future Industry Trends: A Peek Into the Future of PRM Tool Utilization
2022 surveys of partner programs reveal a future in which automation of partner management will be increasingly necessary to remain competitive. More companies creating programs, existing programs are receiving greater funding, and the industry is increasingly leveraging PRM technological solutions to maximize output.
As highlighted in our eBook Buckle Your Seatbelt – Survey Results Suggest a Channel Sales Surge is Coming
- In turn, 75% of participants intend to invest in partner relationship management (PRM) compared to only
- 84% of participants report optimism of significant growth in the upcoming year compared to past years
Identifying a True PRM Versus Falsely Labeled Tools
As companies increasingly see the value of deploying a PRM, many software companies are eager to add this label to their own software, even if it’s not fully accurate. In order to correctly call itself a PRM, the software should generate an automated partner portal designed to streamline the partner lifecycle. Related tools that sometimes (misleadingly) lay claim to the PRM classification include:
- Account Mapping Tool – This technology takes your CRM and the CRM of a partner to find the overlaps and co-selling opportunities.
- Through Channel Marketing Automation – This tool allows you to send content to your partners to send to prospects. In other words, it’s a direct line of communication from the vendor to the end-user, through the partner.
- Channel Incentive Management – This is an organization that handles the accounting and payouts of incentives.
- Ecosystem Management – The software connects your sales teams (direct and indirect) to facilitate introductions.
- Channel Learning – This label applies to a tool that helps build up the skills of a channel manager.
- Channel Marketplaces – These companies help you launch on a well-known marketplace to maximize ROI.
These features provide value in their own right and are sometimes baked into PRM software. For example, though Allbound is a PRM, it also offers Channel Learning and Commissions Management features. However, to build an optimal technical stack, it’s important to understand the specific capabilities of the integrated technologies and have a designated PRM to serve as the foundation.
Checklist For Assessing PRM Solutions
Not all PRM tools yield equal outcomes. Whether you want to assess your existing solution or shop around for new platform vendors, the below checklist will help you determine if a PRM solution will meet your needs:
Usability PRM Solution Requirements
- An attractive interface with an intuitive layout and branding capabilities
- Ability to set two-factor authentication for heightened security
- A search bar for quick access to content
- Integrations with your CRM for comprehensive pipeline visibility
Essential Tool Functionalities Accessible to Partners
- In-portal messaging system
- In-portal co-branding capabilities
- Prospect pages for sales facilitation
- Content repositories housing multiple mediums
- Content pinning to the dashboard for quick retrieval
Portal Experience Customization for Individual Partners
- Partner classification options you can customize
- Accessibility settings based on the above-mentioned partner classifications
PRM Tool Automation
- Content or activity recommendations based on past behaviors
- Playbooks tethered to registered deal activities for prospect-specific recommendations
- Increased access to content and tool features based on activity completion
- Automated email notifications for managers about performance drops
- Automated email notifications to partners about lack of engagement and new opportunities
Building Your Own PRM Solution Versus Utilization of a Third-Party Tool
To quote Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message.
Enlisting a PRM software provider like Allbound does come with a regular fee. While building your own platform spares you this expense, it can actually cost more in the long run.
You would create the portal from scratch and face a steep learning curve, leading to a slower, more laborious kick-off. It would also fall on your team’s shoulders to perform regular site maintenance.
PRM providers like Allbound have designated teams exploring new opportunities to improve user experience for customers. Your homegrown platform could quickly come across as outdated unless your internal team does the same.
Some companies lean towards building their own portal so it can reflect their brand. However, partner managers can customize purchased PRM tools like Allbound to reflect the brand. Vanity URLs, iconography, color schemes are all easily modified.
PRM Tools Versus Spreadsheets
What if you wanted to forego development and software costs altogether by relying upon basic tools like email, PowerPoint, spreadsheets, etc.? If it’s currently working for you, it may be tempting to maintain the status quo.
However, the hard truth is that manual tracking and communication cannot scale as your partner program grows.
- The amount of labor required to manage partners will grow exponentially with each program participant
Imagine receiving urgent co-branding requests and fielding partner conflicts, all while personally onboarding one partner in Australia and another in South Africa. Now imagine that this workload doubles in six months. A PRM tool’s strategic automation reduces workflow redundancies, something that traditional email and spreadsheets cannot do on your behalf.
Growing your own team becomes more difficult
The organization of a PRM doesn’t only benefit partners, but your team as well. New partner managers will learn and operate within fixed parameters with little room for error. Alternatively, spreadsheets and manual communication invite variance in process, confusion, version-control issues, etc.
In short, what processes may work for you may not work well for future colleagues.
- Increased likelihood of channel conflict
A PRM should integrate with your CRM tools and check for duplicate deal registration in real-time. Without this feature, it falls on your shoulders to catch potential conflicts as soon as possible and find a resolution. If you fail to act quickly, two partners will work the same lead for longer than necessary, ultimately wasting one of their resources.
- Partners have come to expect PRM platforms
Partners find reassurance in platforms dedicated to their success. If given the choice between your spreadsheets and a competitor’s PRM, partners may unfortunately choose the latter.
Integrating PRM Solutions with Your Existing Technology Stack
No man is an island, and neither is your channel partner program. Your PRM should work in harmony with other components of your technology stack by sharing performance updates. By syncing your data across multiple platforms, you gain a complete view of your sales program and can avoid duplicate deal registration.
The Allbound team will help integrate the PRM solution with your other sales software for an overall seamless experience. We are compatible with many popular tools, including Salesforce, SugarCRM, HubSpot, Vidyard, and Zoho. Plus, our in-house engineers will find custom solutions for newer or lesser-known software.
Whether you want to connect your PRM tool with your incentives platform or BI dashboards, Allbound makes it all possible!
Why Allbound May Be the
Right PRM Tool for You
Leading software authority and reviewer G2 consistently names Allbound amongst the best PRM tools available. Read the hundreds of onsite reviews, and you’ll see the same points again and again.
“Allbound PRM – Great place to build a partner portal”
The interface is quick to understand and the logic around building the partner experience is easy to capture. Using the WordPress platform allowed us to quickly adopt the platform within both the web team…
Mid-Market (51-1000 emp.)
“Flexibility, Utility, and The Path To a Strong Partnerships Department”
Our partnerships department needed a portal to direct learning and engagement with our partners sales and success teams. Allbound provides a simple way to curate and create content to be shared with these teams…
Whether you represent a thriving startup or a large enterprise with partners across the globe, our team treats you with the same level of dedication to your success.
Better yet, we consistently test and collect feedback on ways to further improve the partner portal design. The result? An experience that earned top marks from G2 for ease of use.
Why should you choose Allbound as your PRM tool? Simply put, we care. We care about your goals, your struggles, your products, and your team.
Review real-world examples of our PRM solution in action with our Customer Success page. Partner programs like yours significantly improved valuable performance metrics, such as:
- Garland Technology grew partner-generated revenue by 33%
- Serko experienced an 100% increase in partner portal utilization
Cloud Checkr boosted partner engagement by 1,400% while spending 40% less