For many vendors, managing partners can be a frustrating process. Small companies with only a few vendors may get away with manual processes or using spreadsheets. However, when the main goal is to grow, this can become rather daunting and costly. For larger companies, dealing with numerous accounts, manually managing partners is not an option. Or at least not a very good one. As we have previously discussed, manual processes are often error-prone and time-consuming. Implementing a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) tool helps alleviate those issues while opening up growth opportunities.
That said, while managing partners can be frustrating, selecting the right PRM system can be even more so. There is no shortage of PRM companies or options.
Before choosing your PRM system, there are a few things you will need to consider. In this post, we will review:
- What exactly is Partner Relationship Management
- The difference between PRM and CRM
- When it’s time to consider a PRM solution
- What to look for in your PRM software
What is Partner Relationship Management?
Partner Relationship Management (or PRM) is a system of strategies and methods designed to help vendors streamline processes while managing communications and engagement with partners.
These cloud or web-based systems allow vendors to manage marketing promotions, sales incentives, inventory, pricing/discounts, and channel data. PRM applications also give partners access to marketing materials, sales and pricing instructions, support, and technical information through a partner portal. Essentially working as a one-stop shop for all channel needs.
Difference between PRM and CRM
Although similar in managing sales and marketing initiatives, having one does not remove your need for the other. The difference between PRM and CRM is in the emphasis of the tool itself. PRM systems focus on partner relationships, while CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems focus on customer (end-user) management. As the name would suggest, CRM systems do assist with building relationships between vendors and end-users. However, these tools are generally more centered around managing the customer lifecycle and encouraging retention.
With PRM systems, the relationship is the goal, with the idea that a strong relationship will boost profits and reduce costs for both vendors and partners.
The key is to find a PRM solution that easily integrates with your current CRM.
How to know when you need a PRM solution?
Not sure if you need PRM software yet? Are you considering PRM but are not sure where to start? If you already have a partner program in place, it’s likely time to get a PRM system in place! But if you are still unsure, here are a few additional signs to help you decide:
- Managing partner deals via spreadsheets
- Managing multiple partner documents
- Tracking down collateral from different sources
- Finding sales or marketing materials takes too long
- Increase in interest with other partners
- Need more efficient communication
- Need a centralized training tool
- Simplified partner fund requests
- Track program success and ROI
What To Look For In Your PRM Software?
Now that you have decided that you need a PRM system, here are a few things to look for before choosing your PRM provider.
1. How easy is it to use?
When multiple parties (staff and partners alike) use your Partner Relationship Management software regularly, it’s essential to select a system that is easy to use. Staff should be able to register new deals, add incentives, and upload marketing materials quickly and simply without waiting for IT approval or lengthy reboot times. Likewise, sales or marketing files should be readily available and easily accessible for partners without having to ask or waste time looking through irrelevant folders.
2. Is the setup simple?
As important as it is to have an easy-to-use system, your PRM software should be even easier to implement. An ideal PRM tool does not require IT support or additional costs for installation. When selecting your PRM company, make sure that they also provide demos, instructions, or other necessary documentation to help train your team and partners or answer any additional questions they may have.
3. How long will it take to implement?
Pay attention to timing. Not only in the time it takes to transfer your data but also in how long it takes you to set up your partner programs. Your PRM system is meant to simplify and improve your partner program. When implementation takes too long, you may be missing out on crucial sales opportunities. Faster execution means you can engage with partners faster and improve your chances for growth.
4. Is it easy to make updates/maintain?
Once you have your system set up, you will likely need to make changes or updates as you continue to grow. Whether that’s making edits to your incentives, updating marketing material, or adding data to your partner accounts, the process should be immediate and straightforward. Look for a PRM tool that allows you to edit and make updates on the spot without the need for submitting requests.
5. Does it meet your specific needs?
To understand what capabilities you need in your PRM, you should first outline your goals and what you hope to accomplish. Appealing to all partners and programs may not always be possible. However, selecting a PRM software that is easily configurable, flexible, and customizable can help you get around those limitations.
6. Can you easily integrate your current systems?
Whether your organization currently uses ERP (Enterprise Resource Planner) tools or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, make sure the PRM solution you’re considering offers seamless integration. Synching these tools from the start will ensure that all of your programs stay up to date and relevant. Making it easier for your staff and partners to work with accurate sales, marketing, and customer data.
7. Is the software scalable/are there growth limitations?
Once you get your software set up to the point where everything is running smoothly, there may be an opportunity for you to add more partners or offer more incentives. As companies grow, they may also want to add more sales staff to manage more accounts. It can be rather frustrating to find out that isn’t possible because you hit your max. Find out ahead of time what your account limitations are and whether your PRM company has options to add users or partners, and at what cost.
8. Will there be updates/advancements?
As you, and the partner management space, continue to grow it’s important to select a PRM company that is ready to grow with you. PRM companies that spend time with their users, ask for customer feedback, continually work to make improvements, and care about your success will help you reach your goals that much faster.
9. What is the cost/how quickly will we see an ROI?
Cost is much more than the price of the software program itself. When considering cost as a whole, you need to think about the time and resources used before implementation and what it would look like going forward. Saving time on data management allows your staff to focus on the things and goals that matter most. By making programs and processes easier for your employees and partners to manage, you also give them more room to grow and more sales opportunities. Ultimately, seeing a positive ROI quicker than programs that do not include PRM tools. Implementing a PRM system also helps prioritize programs that work and allows you to focus on those with greater returns.
10. Is the company responsive and supportive?
The most important feature to consider is whether the PRM company offers support once your system is in place. Are they quick to respond to requests? Do they effectively communicate updates/changes? Do they take time to address your concerns and answer questions? Are they going above and beyond to make sure you have a positive experience? Are additional training materials provided? The best PRM companies will value your opinions and work to improve the system or help you in any way possible to ensure that you are successful. With larger PRM companies, you may experience delays in responses or even talk to bots instead of an actual person. Take time to research what kind of support is provided once you have the software running.
Your PRM system — although not always easy to choose —should boost sales while building stronger relationships between you and your partners. Finding a PRM system that meets your business goals, is easy to use and set up, integrates seamlessly with your current systems, and continually makes improvements to grow with you will ultimately maximize your ROI.
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