The True Measure of Partner Engagement

Partner engagement is how you know that your partners are invested in you and your products. If your partners are engaged with you and your content, it’s a sign that things are going well. If they’re not, then it’s time to talk to them and figure out what’s going on. 

So how do you measure partner engagement? If you’re like most companies, you do it through the number of times they logged into your partner portal and the number of times they downloaded content. Those metrics are good. They show that your partner is at least logging in and looking at the content you give them, but they’re not the best to measure partner engagement. 

For one thing, they don’t show you if your partners are using your content. Are they sending your lead magnets as campaigns? Is the downloaded content just sitting on their hard drive? Measuring the number of downloads and tracking the number of logins doesn’t tell you that. 

How to actually measure partner engagement

There are 4 metrics that really give you an idea of how engaged your partners are. These metrics measure the actions your partner takes with the materials you give them and lets you know how frequently they take those actions. What each of these metrics measure will be unique to each company, but here are some broad examples. 

  1. Marketing Activities

This metric measures how much partners marketing your partners do on your behalf. Do they send out an email campaign to their customers when you introduce a new product? Do they promote your joint event through social media, email, or both? Are they keeping in touch with their customers via a newsletter that includes your best practices? The more marketing activities your partners do, the more mindshare you have. 

  1. Lead Generation

This metric measures how many leads your partners share with you. If your partner isn’t sharing a lot of leads with you, then it’s time to talk to them. It may be as simple as your criteria for a qualified lead not matching your partner’s criteria or as complicated as your partner feeling that you wouldn’t treat their customer well. 

  1. Social Sales

This metric measures the types of sales and marketing activities your partners conduct and gives your partners an activity score. For example, you may measure the number of cold calls your partners do along with the number of marketing campaigns they send. The higher this measurement, the more engaged your partners are. 

  1. Partner Meetings

This metric measures how often your partner does marketing and sales activities. It takes into account how frequently they have discovery calls, how often they send out campaigns, and how often they cold call prospects. It also measures how often they meet with you. This measurement shows you how communicative your partners are with you and with their prospects. 

xAmplify vs PRMs

xAmplify is a PRM and Through Channel Marketing Automation  (TCMA) platform. Due to this, we measure engagement differently than most PRMs. Most PRMs store partner education material and sales and marketing content. As a result, engagement is typically measured through the number of times the partner logs into the PRM and by the number of downloads for each piece of content. 

With the TCMA features of xAmplify, we measure how many of your campaigns your partner has redistributed. We’ve found campaign redistribution to be a reliable indicator of partner engagement because it shows what your partners are doing with the campaigns you give them. You know your partners are sending them out to their contacts and how often they’re doing it. 

For more about campaign redistribution and the platform, schedule a demo

Conclusion

To truly measure partner engagement, you need to track 4 metrics: marketing activities, lead generation, social sales, and partner meetings. Tracking marketing activities shows you how much your partners are marketing on your behalf. If they’re launching event campaigns to promote every single one of your events, sending their customers an update every time you have a product release, and constantly promoting your new products then they’re as excited as you are about you. 

Tracking lead generation lets you know how successful partners are at generating leads and sharing them with you. If they’re generating and sharing a lot of leads with you, they’re a highly engaged partner with a lot of confidence in how you’ll treat their customers. Tracking social sales shows you how willing your partners are to market and sell your products. 

Finally, tracking partner meetings gives you an idea of how your relationship with your partner currently is. If they’re always receptive to meeting you and proactively asking you for meetings, then you’ve got a great relationship. If they keep brushing you off and never want to meet with you, then you have a problem. 

These 4 metrics will give you a great overview of how engaged your partners are with you and how great your relationship with them is. If you want to learn more about these metrics and how xAmplify can help you measure them, schedule a demo.

Make Them Famous!: 25 Podcast Review

Make Them Famous podcast has been around for a while and unless you have a day or half-day free, you’re not going to be able to get through all the episodes. The good news is their latest episode recaps the first 25 episodes and gives you the most important information they’ve learned. 

Here’s some things we learned when listening to the episode. 

  • Providing joint value to your customers is a better way to build a relationship with your partner
  • Focusing your partner program solely on revenue can lead to partner burnout
  •  Once you sign on a partner, immediately show them value. Then, when they want to reciprocate, you can move on to asking them for things you need
  • Implementation partners actually know what your customers actually do with your product and can best help your customers best optimize your product. This can help gain a customer for life!
  • Start working on your partnership even before you and your partner sign the partnership contract

If you’ve got an hour to spare, it’s a great episode to listen to. Get it here.

2 Strategies to Resolve Deal Conflicts Between Partners

Having a relationship with your partner is like having a relationship with your significant other. It’s stressful when you have conflicts and those conflicts aren’t always as simple as who was supposed to walk the dog. They’re more complicated, can involve multiple people, and don’t have a solution that makes everyone happy. 

Here’s a scenario. You’ve got two partners. Both partners have been in your partner program for a while. Partner A is a highly engaged partner who registers a large number of deals with you. Partner B is not as engaged and has only registered a few deals since the beginning of their contract. 

Today, both partners have registered a deal for the exact same company. What do you do? Which partner should you give the deal to? Should you give the deal to a partner? What factors should you consider? What conflict resolution strategies should you use?  No matter what happens, one of your partners is going to be upset. This is the type of conflict that can make or break your relationship. 

This is a common channel conflict scenario. Knowing what factors you should consider and what kinds of conflict resolution strategies you can apply will give you more tools to make your decision. 

Factors to Consider

  1. The customer 

How much you focus on the customer will depend on what type of partnership you have. If your partners are just selling to your customer and the customer is coming to you for product support, then you’ll want to make sure that your potential customer doesn’t get frustrated with you and your partners. 

On the other hand, if your partners are the ones selling to and servicing your potential customer, then you’ll want to remind them that the potential customer should be their priority and that winning over the customer is what they should be focusing on more than the conflict with the other partner. This will matter more in a scenario where your potential customer is contacted by both partners and both partners are letting their feelings get to them and may be promising the customer things they can’t do just to make themselves look better than the other partner. 

  1. Which partner is likely to get the deal

Some of your partners have a better chance of closing a deal than others. They could have a better sales team, a personal connection to the customer, a better offer than another partner, ect…You want to give the deal to a partner who’s more likely to succeed in landing the customer. 

  1. Your relationship with your partners

Is there a way you can make both your partners happy and possibly strengthen your relationship with them? Perhaps you can give both partners the commission from the registered deal while letting one partner have the customer. 

What really matters is demonstrating that you’re working with the partner’s best interests in mind. If you give the deal to one partner, help the other partner (the one you didn’t give the deal to) find another customer. Share a few leads with them, offer your support, whatever you do make sure the partner knows you’ve got their back. 

Conflict resolution strategies to apply

  1. Be consistent with policy and procedures

You  probably have policies and procedures outlined in your partner program for situations like this. Those will provide a useful guide as to what you should do. Being consistent with these policies and procedures ensures that even your partners who aren’t in conflict know what the basis is behind your decisions. It also may lessen the chances of hurt feelings as partners know you’re making decisions based on policies and procedures regardless of your actual relationship with them. 

  1. Move the process along

Sometimes your partners will get stuck on a certain point. Perhaps they’re going back and forth with you about who got to the customer first or that they can provide better service than the other partner. Whatever it is, being stuck on that particular point will not help the process along. 

If the process drags on for long enough, it will start to take time away from more important business activities. This is the point where you step in and tell your partners that you can revisit the point at a later date or that there’s some policy that requires things to be the way they are. This strategy shouldn’t be used at the very beginning of the conflict, but instead should be used if it appears that the conflict is going to continue over a long period of time. 

Conclusion

Conflicts with your partners aren’t easy to solve, but there’s two strategies that you can use to try and resolve the conflict. First, be consistent with your own policies and procedures. These help guide you in making a decision and may reduce hurt feelings as your partners know how you’re making your decisions. Second, move the process along. This is another good strategy as the conflict can drag on if your partners get stuck on a particular point. If it drags on for long enough, it’ll start to take time away from more important activities. These two strategies will help prevent the conflict from dragging out over a long period of time and may help lessen any hurt feelings that inevitably come with the process.  

Why you should survey your channel partners

Your channel partners aren’t your customers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send them the occasional survey. Partner surveys can be a great way to see how your partners feel about you, your product and your partner program. They can also be a good way to refine your partner profile and get some insight on which kinds of partners are the best for your program. They can also help you get an idea of how partners are navigating events such as the pandemic or regulatory changes such as GDPR. 

Reasons to survey your channel partners

 Like surveying your customers, there’s many reasons to survey your partners. Here’s 3 important ones. 

  1. To see how they feel about you

Are your partners happy with you? Are there things you could be doing better? Asking your partners will help you spot any issues before they arise and you can fix them before they lead to larger issues. 

  1. To see how they feel about your product

Your partners are selling or servicing your product, so getting their feedback lets you know what issues customers run into when using the product. That feedback can also suggest new features for you to add in your next product or your next product update. 

  1. To learn more about them

You may already have this information from your initial talks with them, but it’s worth revisiting. How many of your partners were able to hire more employees? How many of them are able to forecast their sales for the next quarter? Knowing more about your partners will help you determine the amount of support they need. It’ll also help you build or refine your partner persona. 

What to do with your partner’s responses

The partners who take the time to write detailed responses to your questions are going to be more engaged than the partners who just give you a star rating. But, both types of partners are going to be more engaged than the partners who didn’t respond to the survey at all. Make a note of this as you can add it to the rest of your partner engagement metrics. 

When you sort through the responses, make a note of what types of things come up frequently. Do 45% of your partners lack a sales process? Then it might be time to organize a webinar or another type of training on how to create one. Do 85% of your partners say they’re happy with the incentives you give them? Great! You don’t need to do a thing. Knowing what comes up frequently allows you to adjust parts of your partner program if necessary. It also lets you know what you’re doing well and can help you learn how your partners are keeping up with your industry. 

Sharing these results with your partners and letting them know how you’re using the results will help you be transparent with your partners. They may even offer some suggestions as to how to improve things and offer suggestions on things you didn’t ask about in your survey. 

How often should you survey your partners

You can’t just survey your partners once and be done with it. You should survey your partners over a period of time to see how engaged your partners are, to be able to spot any trends that occur and to see what effect the changes you made had on your partners. 

How often you send a survey will define its length. If you’re sending a survey every quarter then it will be shorter than a survey you send every year. You don’t want to send long surveys very often as your partners will get tired of filling them out. 

Here’s 3 best practices for sending surveys. 

  1. Make your surveys easy to answer

Don’t just give them a question and expect them to write an essay. No one has time for that. Instead give them multiple choice questions, ask them to rate something on a scale of 1-5 or ask them to agree/disagree with a statement. 

  1. Send them frequently, but not too frequently

Time is valuable and no one wants to spend it answering surveys. Make sure you’re sending surveys on a frequent enough basis to be able to spot trends. But at the same time make sure they’re not frequent enough to annoy your partners. Annual surveys would be the sweet spot here as you can make them strategic and pass the results along to your executive team. 

  1. Make your surveys anonymous

This doesn’t mean you can’t gather demographic information about your partners. It just means that you shouldn’t ask them for specifics such as their company name. Anonymizing surveys is the best way to get honest responses. People are more comfortable giving feedback, especially if it’s negative, if they know you won’t know who they are. 

Conclusion

Surveying your partners is a great way to see how engaged they are. It’s also a good way to see how they feel about your partner program and your product. Using the data you get from the responses to your survey, you can spot trends and see how many of your partners may need additional training on your product or additional sales and marketing support. Surveys should be sent consistently and should be quick and easy for your partners to fill out. 

Speaking of surveys, we’d like to introduce to you xAmplify’s new survey feature. Integrated with the rest of our platform, you can automatically send your partners a survey without having to configure a new tool. Survey data is automatically collected and generated in an easy-to-read report that you can share with your team. Schedule a demo to learn more.

How to Quickly Ramp Up a New Channel Manager

The relationship you have with your channel partners is the backbone of your partner program. Having a good relationship means that both you and your partners are invested in each other’s success. As a result, you and your partners are equally involved in driving that success. 

So what exactly is a channel partner relationship and how do they work? And what happens when your current channel manager leaves? How do you ramp up your new channel manager fast enough?

The channel partner relationship

Channel partner relationships are mutually beneficial relationships. Your channel partners market and sell your products to their customers. You get more market share and revenue without having to invest in hiring and training new people. Your channel partners get more customers and revenue by selling your products, offering related products and services or by doing both. These partnerships allow both you and your partner to grow.

These relationships will look different for each company and for each channel manager-partner pair involved, but they all have some things in common. These are actual relationships with actual people. 

First, your channel partners aren’t a faceless company that you can ask to sell your products, but are actual people with their own interests and motivations. You have to get to know your channel partners on a personal level. Due to current circumstances, this relationship building will look different than in the past, but there are still ways to get to know your channel partners. Events such as virtual happy hours and virtual coffee meetings can help you get to know your partners better and start building a good relationship. 

Second is consistently supporting your partners. Some channel managers schedule weekly check-ins with their partners while others do one every two weeks. Those regular, consistent check-ins allow you to catch up with your partners, answer any questions and resolve any issues. Sometimes, this also involves your channel managers sitting in partner’s sales meetings and helping to assist in forming a sales or marketing strategy. 

As you can see channel partner relationships take a lot of work. Once you’ve built that relationship with your channel partners, you have to maintain it. 

But what happens if your current channel manager leaves? Your partner may not want to work with a new channel manager, may think that the previous channel manager was better or may even follow the old channel manager to their new company. Your new channel manager will have to start the relationship from scratch. 

What happens when your current channel manager leaves?

For many people this is a familiar scenario. Your current channel manager found a better opportunity elsewhere, went on maternity leave, moved to a different part of the country, got promoted, ect…whatever the reason, you now need a new channel manager.

 Here’s the problem. 

Your new channel manager won’t know how to work with your partners from Day 1. They’ll need some time to get up to speed. But, you and your partners don’t have that time. So how do you ramp them up quickly? 

How to quickly ramp up your new channel manager

You need a process that’s both efficient and comprehensive. This will minimize disruption and ensure a smoother transition from one channel manager to another. But what do you need in this process? Building relationships takes time and effort but there are a few things you can do to bring your new channel manager up to speed.

  1. Understand the partner

 The very first thing your channel manager has to do is understand the partner. They need to know the partner’s strengths and weaknesses, what products they offer and their history. They also need to know what kinds of opportunities the partner wants and any issues that could prevent them from capitalizing on those opportunities. 

Your new manager should spend as much time with the partner as possible in order to understand them and their business. This can be through having regular conversations with the partner or shadowing them during their day to day. This gives your partner a good first impression of your new manager and gets their relationship off to a good start.  

  1. Have consistent partner expectations

Share your partner program information with your new manager. Ensure that they know what your company expects from your partners. What are your metrics to measure partner engagement? How do you track those metrics? Share that information with them. Doing so brings your new manager’s expectations in line with your partners and minimizes any confusion that may occur. 

  1. Give them their partner data

Unless you assign your new manager a new partner, you’re giving them a partner who’s been with you for a while. What campaigns did that partner run?  How many times did they meet with their previous channel manager? Do you have a history of their activities that you can give your new manager? Your new manager will need to know all of these things. Make sure to give them access to this data. This will allow your new manager to familiarize themselves with your partner’s history with your company and see how they can help your partner succeed. 

  1. Communicate your expectations for them

While you have to ensure that your expectations for your partners are consistent and communicated to your new manager, you also need to communicate your expectations for them. How many partners will they work with? Are they expected to help recruit partners? What type of guidance will you give them? You probably went over this in the hiring process, but it doesn’t hurt to go over it again. 

How xAmplify helps ramp up your new channel manager

xAmplify is a PRM+TCMA platform. It has all the features you’ll find in your typical PRM combined with the automation features of a TCMA platform. 

The platform tracks your partners’ activity within the platform and with our new team update, makes it easier to ramp up your new channel manager. Your new manager will be able to see your partner’s history with you and get a sense of their strengths and weaknesses. 

When you ramp up a new channel manager, you can ease the transition by giving your new manager access to the same information that the previous channel manager had. This can be done by assigning the new channel manager to the same group as their predecessor. The new manager will then be able to see the partner’s history on the platform and any notes that the previous manager had taken. This will get them up and running. 

Schedule a demo to learn more.

Conclusion

Channel partnerships are mutually beneficial relationships between you and your channel partners. You get to expand your market reach and gain revenue while your channel partners get more customers and revenue. These relationships are also personal relationships between channel managers and partners and take time to build. 

When channel managers leave, it’s difficult for new managers to rebuild that relationship. It also takes time to ramp them up. To make that process faster, you need to ensure that your partner expectations stay consistent. You also need to make sure your expectations for your new channel manager are communicated clearly. Finally, you need to ensure that your new manager has access to all the necessary information and systems they need to get up to speed. 

PartnerUP Podcast: How Drift builds trust in partnerships

In the latest PartnerUP episode, Jason Yarborough shares his partnership framework. Yarborough joins Drift, a chat bot and revenue acceleration company, as the new Head of Tech Partnerships. They also give a quick shoutout to the Cloud Software Association where PartnerUP host Jared Fuller will be teaching a masterclass in October. 

Here’s what we learned.

  • Partnerships are an accelerated way of creating trust with your partner’s customers
  • Partners like it when you treat them as advisors and give them access to more than just your marketing and sales teams. Get them involved with your product development team or share your roadmap. Giving your partners access to these things reinforces the trust you have in them and allows them to add additional value. 
  • Understand how you help your partners solve a problem. What solution are your partners trying to provide their customers? How does your product fit into that process?

Get the episode here

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

Two Ways to Minimize Channel Conflict

Channel conflict is common. It happens when a partner or vendor’s interests come into conflict with another party’s interests. This is seen when one partner tries to poach another partner’s prospect, when pricing differs, when one partner finds out that the other is getting a better deal from their vendor, etc. While channel conflict won’t disappear, deal registration and other methods can help minimize it. 

Prospects are potential customers. They bring the money while partners and vendors offer a product that solves an issue they have. Prospects are so important that people fight over them constantly

Partners usually find prospects through their own network, through referrals, through their own marketing and through other sales and marketing techniques. However, it’s common for two or more partners to go after the same prospect. This often leads to channel conflict. 

What is Channel Conflict?

Channel conflict occurs when two or more partners bring the same prospect before the vendor. Who does the vendor give the commission to? Is the vendor’s direct sales team also after the prospect? How is the vendor supposed to navigate this? It’s complicated and there are no easy answers….if there even is an answer. 

So what do you do? Aside from trying to solve channel conflict, you can try to prevent it. But like trying to solve channel conflict, that’s also incredibly difficult to do. However, instead of trying to prevent it completely, you can try to minimize it. 

P.S. For more on Channel Conflict, see our previous post, Channel Conflict: The Ultimate Standoff – Can It Ever Be Solved?

Deal Registration and Transparency

While channel conflict won’t disappear completely, there are two ways to minimize it. 

  1. Deal Registration

Deal Registration is an important part of how partners make money. It’s a way for them to share leads and deals that they’re developing for their vendors. This process minimizes channel conflict because once a deal is approved, the partner has a certain amount of time to work the deal without interference from anyone else. Once that period of time has expired, then that lead is available for someone else to work. 

This process works because vendors can enforce that period of time. If another partner approaches a vendor with the same deal, the vendor can easily check to see who registered the deal first. The vendor can then enforce consequences for the partner that didn’t register the deal first. These consequences can range from the loss of money to ending that partner’s relationship with the vendor. 

  1. Transparency

Partners talk to each other. They compare notes. They talk about you. It’s in your best interest to be transparent about who you work with and why. 

Transparency involves clear communication. Communicate with your partners on a regular basis. Make any restrictions you have on region, market, product adjustments, etc….clear. Be clear about your expectations for the relationship and your goals for the partnership.

Communication is key to a good business relationship and channel partners need to trust that they’re playing on a level playing field. 

Transparency also applies to data. Do you know what your partners are doing with the content you give them? How many campaigns are they sending out? What are the open rates? 

Knowing this type of data will ensure that you know how engaged your partners are and which partners may need more support. You’ll be able to see which partners are registering the most deals, sending you the most leads and if they’re not a top tier partner, you  may decide to move them up. You’ll also be able to determine which partners need additional training in your product. If some of your partners have downloaded your quick start guide 10 times, then it might be time to schedule an additional training session on the product. 

You’ll be able to predict how specific partners will handle specific types of campaigns. For example, your partner on the East Coast gets good results with the video campaigns you send them while your partner on the West Coast handles email campaigns really well. In this case, you’ll want to give more of your video campaigns to your East Coast partner while giving the email campaigns to your West Coast partner. 

Knowing how many campaigns your partners have sent out, their open rates and other associated metrics gives you greater insight into what your partners do with the content you send them. This enables you to make better, more informed decisions and allows you to understand how your partners market your product. 

Conclusion

Partnerships are critical to your business and it’s important that your channel partners have a clear understanding of what markets and geographic boundaries and other qualifications they might be working under in representing your brand.

It’s imperative that you recognize that keeping the channels of communications open with your partners is essential. Establishing guidelines and setting expectations will go a long way in minimizing partnership conflicts. At the end of the day, treat your partners with respect, settle disagreements quickly and fairly and you’ll find that these actions will improve your relationships and business. 

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.