Do PRMs Still Work for Today’s Channel Landscape?

In our previous post, we talked about what PRMs were and the benefits of using them. However, with the channel landscape changing, do PRMs still give you the same benefits or is it time to try something different? In this post, we discuss how your partners actually use PRMs, the challenges of the modern channel landscape and what tools your partners might need now. 

How PRMs are actually used

When you check your partners metrics in your PRM do you notice a trend? Are your partners excited early and logging in frequently but then dropping off? Have they complained that your PRM can’t find information, there isn’t anything new, implementing marketing plans is challenging? For a lot of vendors, this is a familiar scenario. 

PRMs are meant to improve your partners’ productivity as they provide the material needed for partners to sell a vendor’s product. But in reality, partners spend hours trying to find the material they need and even more trying to figure out what they should be doing with it. 

The modern channel landscape

The channel landscape has come a long way since the 1990’s. Products take less time to implement and partners are starting to switch from being resellers to managed service providers, who offer support and best practices for their customers. These providers become consultants for their customers, providing information about the products their customers are interested in and helping them find the best fit for their needs. 

Customer demands are changing at a rapid pace and the successful companies are the ones who can keep up. This involves actively collaborating and eliminating friction areas with partners to seize new opportunities, drive growth and generate revenue.

The easier companies can make marketing their products for partners means greater activations and more companies selling their products and services. Key ways they can do this by co-branding, co-selling, complete marketing plans and automation. A typical PRM just isn’t designed for this type of collaboration. 

Going beyond a PRM

Today’s companies need to use platforms that are intuitive and easy for their partners to use. It needs to have the best features of a PRM, while making it easy to market and co-sell. This tool is a combined PRM and Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) platform.

TCMA platforms enable companies to send campaigns and other marketing messages through their partners instead of just handing the messaging to partners and expecting them to figure it out for themselves. These platforms let companies easily and quickly collaborate with partners as partners can add their own material to their vendor’s campaigns. They also allow partners to easily leverage their own networks through the integrations they offer. 

A combined PRM and TCMA platform enables partners to find everything they need in one place. It contains both the benefits of a PRM and the automation of a TCMA platform enabling a partner’s workflow to be seamless. Partners get to learn about their vendor’s product, then use that information to better market their services in co-branded campaigns.  

Here at xAmplify, we were partners once. We thought PRMs were outdated and weren’t designed for how channel partnerships were evolving. That’s why we built xAmplify.

Our platform offers

  • Cross channel and partner activity tracking

Our platform provides detailed and comprehensive analytics on how your partners are using marketing campaigns and the downstream metrics for those campaigns. Plus you get to compare activity across partners. 

  •  Co-branded campaigns 

When you send your campaigns through your partner, our platform automatically inserts your brand and your partner’s logo into video, email, social, event and landing page campaigns. 

  • Seamless syncing with Salesforce

Leads, deals and activity automatically syncs your CRM without any manual entry or customization. 

To learn more about our platform, schedule a demo

Conclusion

PRMs have their place. They’re excellent for storing marketing and sales materials and training partners. They are not designed for the future of the channel sales. PRM +TCMA platform is designed for evolution. These platforms are built for collaboration, marketing and sales. 

Channelnomics: The state of the cloud

In the latest episode of Changing Channels, Larry Walsh gives us the details of cloud adoption in the channel. Over the last few years, the cloud has been the transformative force in the channel. It’s made vendors and partners change the kinds of solutions they sell and how they sell. This episode gives us the results of a 5-year study conducted by Ingram Mirco Cloud and Channelnomics.  

Here’s what we learned

  • $1 out of every $5 of partner revenue comes from the cloud
  • Emerging tech such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables are growing and becoming a larger share of partner revenue
  • 80% of partners want to expand their cloud offerings
  • 63% of partners don’t have a general business plan. Partners are not prepared for the dynamic cloud market.

We highly recommend watching the video instead of just listening to the podcast as it contains graphs and other visuals that make sense of the data. Watch it here

What are PRMs?

Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platforms are commonly used in the channel space. But how did they come to be? Here’s a quick rundown of how PRMs came to be, what they are and the benefits of using one.  

PRM platforms are typically self-service platforms. They’re used to educate the partner about the product and used by partners to communicate with and get support from their vendors. They’re also used by partners to request Market Development Funds (MDFs) and to share leads with their vendors. 

The History of PRM

Indirect Sales really took off in the 1990’s with the tech boom. People all over the world wanted server infrastructure, hard drives, databases, ect… Unfortunately, manufacturers like Cisco couldn’t just open up a new office in every region that wanted their products, so they had to find other ways to sell them. 

Distributors are companies who stock a product and sell it to their customers. They were the perfect companies to sell the manufacturers products. However, to sell the manufacturers’ products, the manufacturers had to allow the distributors access to their systems so they could place orders on their clients behalf, submit service tickets and track shipments. But that caused all sorts of problems like distributors having access to systems that the manufacturers didn’t want them to have access to. This created an opportunity. Why not create a separate system for those distributors?

By creating a separate system for distributors, the manufacturers were able to keep their systems private while still giving the distributors what they needed. Eventually those distributors became partners and manufacturers turned into vendors and that separate system became the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform that we use today. 

What does a PRM platform contain?

PRM platforms are customized for each company based on their partner programs. However, they all allow vendors to upload and store the content they want to give their partners. Partners can then login, download the content they need and then use that content elsewhere such as in an email. PRMs also offer a deal registration form so that the partner can register any deals and leads they develop for their vendors. 

PRM content storage can be divided into many sections, but here are 4 of the most common ones. 

Marketing 

Your partners will need marketing material to promote your product. Marketing plans, campaigns, social posts, ect… will be put in this section for your partner to download and use in their own marketing system. Partner engagement material such as newsletters will also be put in this section as well. 

Sales 

Your partners will also need to know how to sell your product. Sales enablement material such as price lists, sales scripts and battlecards will be put in this section. The deal registration form may also go in this section as well. 

Partner Support and Management 

Product support guides, documentation and other support material for the product will go in this section. Partner management material such as contracts, onboarding material for the partner program and partner territory assignments will go in this section as well. 

Partner Rewards 

Information about partner rewards will go in this section. This will be information on how to obtain commissions and rebates. If the vendor offers any growth incentives such as bonuses, information on how to obtain them will be in this section as well. 

The Benefits of a PRM?

PRMs offer many benefits. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some of the benefits you and your partners get from a PRM. 

  • Content is stored in a single place for your partners
  • Promotes trust as partners know that their vendor is giving them support in the form of sales and marketing material
  • Improves your partners productivity as they have access to a lot of information they can use for marketing and sales purposes
  • You can track partner engagement by seeing how many times your partner logs in and the number of downloads each piece of content gets. This shows you which pieces of content your partners are using the most. The number of times your partner logs in gives you an idea of how often they are using the platform. 

PRMs came about because manufacturers wanted to give their distributors a separate system to prevent them from having to access the manufacturers’ systems. As more and more companies got into the channel marketing space, this became the PRM that we use today. PRMs allow partners to access vendor content in one place. Vendors can track their partner engagement by tracking how a partner is interacting with the content they upload into the PRM. PRM content typically consists of marketing and sales material, partner reward information and partner support and management documents.

Keep It Simple for Partners

Channel partners are typically small to medium sized businesses that don’t have the resources that a larger company would have. Partners wear multiple hats in their company. They sell, support, and help make sure customer satisfaction is high. Like most small business owners they are stretched thin while working hard to run and grow their business. In contrast, vendors are typically larger companies and have the resources and expertise to easily leverage their networks to market and sell their products. 

All too often, vendors will hand their partners marketing content and leave them to figure out the rest. Partners don’t have the time to figure out what to do with the material with all the responsibilities they have. Partners can help you scale, but you need to make working with your business simple and easy for your partner. 

Ways to keep things simple for partners

Easier Access to Training Materials

Give your partners easier access to your training materials. Did you send them a Dropbox link to all of your training documents?  Did you send them an email with links to training videos on YouTube? If your training materials are in multiple places, your partners will lose them. That’s why it’s important to consolidate all of your materials in one place such as a PRM. A PRM is designed to store all of your material and resources in one place. Your partners will be able to easily find the document they need or the video they want to send a prospect instead of having to sort through their email to find an attachment or a link. 

Provide Resources

It’s also important to give your partners resources that benefit them. Like you, your partners are constantly looking to improve how they do business. Give them resources on how to market on Instagram, on how to claim their business on Google. By giving them these resources, you’re showing that you’re showing them that you care about their business which leads to better relationships with your partners.

Clear Messaging

Also don’t forget to be clear and consistent with your messaging. Your partners need to know exactly what they can expect from your partner program. They need to know what happens to their leads once they hand them over to you. If you don’t give your partner this information, they won’t trust you. If your partners don’t trust that you have their best interests in mind, they’ll go to your competitor. 

Your messaging about your product also needs to be consistent. You can’t give one partner completely different product messaging from another. There will be some variation in your messaging due to region, language, ect…but the key points of the message should remain consistent among your partners. 

Remove Obstacles

Finally, one of the best ways to keep it simple is to remove any obstacles that could prevent your partner from selling your product. Give them sales decks, product demos, ect. This makes it incredibly easy for your partner to start selling your product right from the start. 

Key Points

  • Give your partners one central place where they can access all of your resources
  • Give your partners resources that benefit their business
  • Communicate with your partners 
  • Remove obstacles allowing your partners to immediately start selling

Example: Nextiva’s CoNEXtion

Nextiva an award-winning cloud-based communication company with more than 100,000 customers relies heavily on partnerships to do business. To keep it simple for their partners, they launched Nextiva CoNEXtion Partner Demand Suite for their self-service partners. This suite contained everything their partners needed to sell Nextiva’s products such as a marketing automation tool, marketing strategy tips, and more. 

The suite made it easy for Nextiva’s partners to find what they needed. They were immediately able to start generating demand and deals. Partners were able to understand how they fit into Nextiva’s marketing strategy and how they would benefit. 

In addition, Nextiva’s channel marketing team wasn’t overwhelmed with requests for help as they had been previously. They could focus their efforts on continuously engaging their partners and helping them follow up after their initial campaigns had been sent. 

For more on how Nextiva kept it simple for their partners, check out our case study.

Conclusion

Keeping things simple for your partners lets them start selling immediately. It also improves your relationship with your partners and makes their lives much easier. You can keep things simple by communicating your terms clearly to your partners. You should also keep your product messaging consistent. Finally, giving your partners plenty of resources and keeping those resources in one place is essential. 

xAmplify’s through-channel marketing automation helps keep things simple by combining all the features of a PRM with an out-of-the-box marketing automation platform. Our platform makes it easy for your partners to share your content with their prospects in just a few clicks.

Schedule a demo to learn more.

PartnerUp Podcast: Marketo’s Partner Program Structure and Tiers

In the latest episode of the PartnerUP podcast, Stephen Ceplenski talks about designing and managing Marketo’s Partner Program. Celpenski has been managing Marketo’s program up until a few years ago when Marketo got acquired by Adobe. He shares his insights on how to best structure a partner program.

Here’s what we learned. 

  • Your partner program doesn’t work if you can’t attract the right partners.
  • If you thoroughly analyze what you need from a partner program, you stand a better chance of choosing the right partners
  • If you get buy-in from all of the departments in your company, creating a partner program goes a lot more smoothly. For example, once Marketo’s software engineering department understood that they’d get a private beta environment with partners willing to test products in advance. This testing would ensure that the engineers were aware of product issues a lot quicker and partners would be willing to be thorough in their testing as any product issues would affect their reputation as well. Once the software engineers understood this, they were much more receptive to the idea of a partner program. 

You’ll want to listen to this podcast if you’re thinking about creating a partner program, are in the process of creating one or are looking to redesign yours. Listen to it here.

Podcast: How to Drive Cloud Adoption in the Channel

In the latest Channel Journeys podcast, Lana King talks about why your partners may be dragging their feet on cloud adoption. Lana is the VP of Partner Programs, Training and Enablement at Mitel shares what she learned from overseeing thir partner program. 

Here’s what we learned:

  • Partners are afraid that they’ll have to hand their customers over once all of the paperwork is signed. 
  • Partners feel more comfortable when they own the entire customer relationship. 
  • Partners may already be supporting their customers through the entire customer lifecycle. 
  • Taking a backseat and supporting your partners makes for a better partner relationship. 

Knowing why some of your partners are adopting the cloud helps you tailor your program, shows you’re listening, and makes for a better relationship. 
Listen to the podcast here.

A Deep-Dive into the Digital Agency-Partner Persona with Greg Portnoy and John Florey

Listen to Make Them Famous’s 55 minute deep dive on the Digital Agency Partner Persona to find out more about this persona and how your agency can leverage partnerships to generate growth.

3 Takeaways we got from the Podcast

  • You might be able to easily convert your existing relationships into partnerships. Building out these relationships can give you and your partner reciprocity and mutual wins. 
  • Be flexible with your partnerships. Companies may change their tech stack, their value and more. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your relationships. 
  • Maintain partnerships even if you can’t offer your partner’s product at the moment. You never know which one of your clients will need a particular product and maintaining those relationships with those partners will make it easier to recommend them to the clients who need them. 

Listen to the full episode here

Reasons Why Your Partners Don’t Send You Leads

Lead generation is an important indicator of partner engagement. It’s a good sign that your partner program is working. Your partners are keeping you top of mind. Yet getting your partners to send you leads isn’t easy. Here’s 3 reasons why your partners don’t send you leads. We’ve also provided 3 solutions and an explanation of each. 

Problem: Lack of trust

Your partners don’t have any insight into your pipeline, so they don’t know what you do with the leads they send. They also don’t have a guarantee that you’ll pay them once the deal is closed or give them the credit. They also might not know if you’ll treat their customers well. 

Solution: Build trust

Be transparent. Explain how your pipeline works. Outline the process of how they get credit for the leads they give you and when and how they get paid. Take their feedback into account and make sure you consider their needs as well as yours. Build a relationship and your partner will be more comfortable sending their customers your way.  

Problem: They don’t know your product well

Do your partners know how the product can benefit their prospects? Can they explain it? If your partners don’t understand your product, they can’t sell it. They’ll miss sales opportunities and you’ll get less leads. 

Solution: Provide training

Personalize a training program for your partners. This will ensure that they understand your product and can explain it to their prospects. They’ll understand the value of your product and find sales opportunities. They’ll get more prospects and you’ll get more leads.  

Problem: You don’t put your partners first

If you don’t invest in your partners, they won’t invest in you. They won’t feel connected to your company or your products. They’re less likely to be engaged and less likely to give you leads. 

Solution: Invest in your partners

Treat your partners as you would your customers. Put their needs first. Talk to them and find out what they want. Provide places for them to build relationships with other partners. Build a relationship with them. They’ll be more engaged and more likely to give you leads. 

Conclusion

If your partners aren’t giving you leads, your relationship could use some improvement. Take a look at your partner program, your product and the way you treat your partners. Look for ways to reduce friction and ask for partner feedback. Make sure you’re investing in your partner and they’ll make sure they invest in you. 

About Us

We were partners for decades and we know what they want. We’ve used that experience to build an easy-to-use channel marketing automation platform. You provide the material, we provide the automation and your partners do what they do best, sell.

3 reasons why your partners aren’t engaged and 3 suggestions for a fix

A good partner relationship means that your partners are engaged, growing their revenue and yours. But sometimes, partner engagement can be difficult. If partners aren’t engaged, your channel is less effective. So how do you engage your partners and why aren’t they as engaged as you’d like them to be? 

Why are Your Partners Less Engaged?

Partners have many reasons for not being as engaged with you as you would like. Here are 3 common reasons why your partners are less engaged. 

1. Not enough support

Partners are often small businesses and have less resources. They may not have much knowledge about the industry and rely on a few large contracts to get by. These partners will need more support than other partners, but engaging them is a good way to grow your channel. 

2. They struggle to bring in revenue
Typically, partners are great at sales, but less so at marketing. They have difficulty keeping up with new marketing technology and trends. They struggle to reach potential customers. Partners are willing to learn how to market themselves. They just don’t know how. 

Also consider your sales process. If your sales process is too complicated or takes too long, your partners will lose their prospects. This decreases the likelihood of your partner selling your products in the future. 

3. The tools you gave them are complicated 

Have you noticed your partners logging into your PRM less? Do you have multiple tools, each with their own login? Your partners struggle to understand how to use the tools you give them. They find them time-consuming and costly to use. They don’t see how the tools can support them and their business. 

If any of these reasons sound familiar, take a look at your partner’s feedback. The feedback from your partner is the best way to find out what their problems are and what they want. 

How to Engage Your Partners? 

Your partners want to be partners. Providing them the support, tools and incentives they want, will help you maintain a good relationship. 

  1. Provide Support

Many partners are small business owners with less resources. Providing industry knowledge such as whitepapers and other material tailored to your partners’ interests will help show your partners that you’re invested in them as much as they are invested in you. This also helps your partners market themselves, allowing them to reach more potential customers.

2. Provide tools that connect to other tools

Partners use multiple channels because that’s what their potential customers do. Providing tools that connect these channels together enables your partners to coordinate their efforts across channels and expand their reach. Enabling access to all of your tools from your partner portal makes it easier for your partner to use the tools they need, freeing them up for more important tasks. 

3. Change your incentives

Find out what your partners would like as an incentive. Some of your partners may want incentives that allow them to focus more on customer experience while others may want a reward for finding new markets. Reward your partners for what they want to be doing.  

Conclusion

Partner engagement is essential for a good relationship. Ensuring that your partner program supports your partners and offers the incentives they want will go a long way in increasing your partner engagement. Providing your partners with easy-to-use tools will free up your partners and allow them to reach out to more prospects. 

About Us

At xAmplify, we’ve kept partners top of mind. With our decades of experience, we’ve helped companies engage their partners by giving them a marketing automation platform designed for partners and by partners. Our platform solves the challenges that partners face and automates much of the work they have to do.

Want to learn more? Schedule a Demo

3 ways to improve your partner’s experience and 2 reasons why you should

Partner experience is more than your partner’s experience with whatever partner management platform you pick for them. Your partners talk to end customers and are more than happy to share their experiences and impressions about your company. So it’s important that your partners have a good experience and impression of you. The better your partner’s experience with you, the more likely they are to resell or recommend your products. 

What thinking about partner experience can do for you

Happy partners are better partners. Here are the top 2 reasons why you should improve your partner’s experience. 

  1. Drive sales

Partners who have good experiences with you and your products are going to sing your praises every chance they get. 

  1. Increase your reputation 

People talk. When word gets out about your partner’s amazing experience with you, you’re going to be the most sought after company for partners to work with. 

What should you consider when thinking about your partner’s experience?

  1. Consider the type of support you’re giving them

Many partners are small businesses, who often have just a few contracts and renewals. But with the changes in technology, these contracts and renewals are bringing in less and less revenue. These partners have little to no marketing experience and struggle to go beyond their personal networks. They need support and training to thrive in the new environment. 

  1. Is your content personalized for that particular partner?

Don’t throw every piece of content you have at your partner. Take the time to consider exactly what they need from you. For example, a partner who resells your products to the European market doesn’t need campaigns geared towards the South American market. You don’t have to be hyper personalized, but considering what your partner doesn’t need access to will make your content less overwhelming for them. It also reduces friction for your partners and makes your partner program stand out.

  1. Your relationship with your partner

Do you have someone who works closely with your partner. Does your partner know who to go to with any questions or concerns they may have? How do you respond to your partner’s feedback? Do you keep in regular contact with your partner? Having a good partner relationship is essential to your partner’s experience. Partners who are kept top of mind will keep you top of mind. 

How to gauge your efforts

How do you know if your efforts are working? Aside from your partners giving you feedback, there are a few ways to tell. 

  1. Revenue increase

If you track your partner’s revenue over time and it’s increasing, then your efforts are working. Your partners are getting the support they need from you and as a result, they’re able to do what they do best. Sell

  1. Partnership length

Has your partner been with you for years? Did they leave and come back again? Are they referring you to other partners? Long lasting partnerships are the best sign that your efforts are working. 

  1. Total number of partners 

Do more people want to work with you than before? Do they cite your partner program as one of the reasons why? Your partners don’t just recommend your products and company to customers, they also recommend it to other companies in the partner marketing space. Improving your partner’s experience, improves your relationship with them and other prospective partners. 

About Us

At xAmplify, we’ve kept partners top of mind. With our decades of experience, we’ve helped companies improve their partner experience by giving them a marketing automation platform designed for partners and by partners. Our platform solves the challenges that partners face and automates much of the work they have to do.