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. 

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.

Deal Registration, the Good and the Bad

Deal registration is a big deal. It’s one of the most important KPIs for the health of your channel. The channel runs on partnerships. These partnerships occur when companies repackage/resell products from another company (the vendor). Partners make money on these transactions through commissions, discounts, etc…In order to ensure they actually make money, partners will fill out their vendor’s deal registration form. 

Having your partners fill out a deal registration form gives you data on a potential customer and lets you know what your partner is offering that customer. With this, you can measure partner performance and reduce channel conflict. Without it, you’re flying blind.

Why is deal registration so important?

Deal registration is a way for partners to share leads and deals they have been developing for you. It also lets them claim a lead for a set period of time and prevent other people including their vendor from stealing the lead. Once that period of time has expired the lead opens back up. 

This is a way to reduce channel conflict as others can’t bypass the partner and sell to that lead for that period of time. Vendors may also offer their partners help in closing that deal. 

Deal registration also offers insights into the partner’s performance. Vendors know how satisfied their partners are and who are their most active partners. Partners know how well they work with a particular vendor and can identify potential areas in which they can improve. This allows both the vendor and the partner to evaluate their relationship and see if it is worth continuing.

How does it work?

Deal registration programs, which are run by the vendor, often offer additional incentives for partners to register the deals they make. This increases the profits of the partner. Each vendor will have their own rules on who can take part in the deal registration program and what incentives they offer.

Elements of a good deal registration program 

A good deal registration program has 3 key elements

  1. Forms

Your deal registration system should be easy to use. Keep your partner’s time in mind. Make sure your deal registration forms are simple, easy to use, and don’t ask for any unrelated information.

These forms should contain the name of the deal, the type of deal, the potential amount of the deal and the estimated close date of the deal. If you are giving your partner the forms through a PRM, they should not need to ask about your partner’s contact details as those should already be in your system. 

 Here’s an example of a simple deal registration form below. 

Caption: xAmplify deal registration form

  1. Rewarding Incentives

Make sure you’re making the process rewarding. Most vendors offer their partners monetary incentives. Monetary incentives can be product discounts, commissions, rebates, ect. 

 If your incentives aren’t the right ones, then your partner has no reason to register a deal with you. They may even take that deal to your competitor if they offer better incentives. 

To make sure your incentives are right, make sure they reflect the degree of effort involved. If a deal is more complex, then you’ll want to offer more of an incentive. These incentives can also motivate less active partners to become more active. You’ll want to think about this and select the most appropriate incentive that works for your partners and you. 

  1. Clear Rules

Your deal registration program rules need to be clear. This prevents abuse. Communicate these rules to your partner and enforce them.

These rules typically consist of the eligibility criteria of a deal, any exceptions to the process, and the potential reasons for rejecting a deal. Each vendor will have their own rules and partners should check them before registering a deal. 

When developing your rules take common scenarios into account. Consider what the rules are for a potential customer wanting to go with a different partner and other such scenarios. This ensures that you have policies on what to do if channel conflict arises. 

Deal Registration Problems

Unfortunately, deal registration isn’t perfect. For most partners, it’s a necessary but tedious step they have to take. Most deal registration programs make that step more complicated for partners by being inconsistent in enforcement, manual forms and having a complicated approval process. This makes protecting the deal more of a burden than losing it. 

Manual forms

Deal registration forms are mostly manual. This makes it tedious for partners as they have to fill out the entire deal registration form each time and with all the information that the vendor requests. Vendors tend to request the partner’s company information, the prospect’s company information, relationship to the prospect and much more. This allows them to evaluate whether the partner is the right one to pursue the deal. 

With automation and integration, the partner only needs to fill out the necessary information such as their relationship to the prospect and what deal the partner plans to offer the prospect. The system will populate other necessary information such as the partner’s company information which should already be in the vendor’s records. Automation also more easily integrates the deal registration form with your CRM so you can review and track the deal registration.

Without it, you would have to either manually copy the information over to your CRM or it would be created as a lead instead of a deal. If it is created as a lead instead of a deal in your CRM, you would have to add in the necessary information in order to change it to a deal. Either way, it’s more work for you. 

Inconsistent Enforcement

Vendors don’t always protect the deals that their partners register with them. Sometimes, the vendor’s direct sales team poached the deal or let another partner work the lead during the claim period. This destroys all trust between the vendor and the partner. The partner will no longer want to work with the vendor and will warn other partners away.

A Complicated Approval Process

Your partners don’t work for you. Partners are individual businesses and have other things to do. They don’t have the time to jump through the hoops your deal registration’s approval process. If your approval process involves the partner documenting every presale effort they made to that deal, then it’s too complicated. Make sure your approval process doesn’t involve much work for your partners. 

Conclusion

Deal registration enables visibility into partners performance. It allows the partner to claim a lead for a set period of time reducing channel conflict. This process isn’t perfect. Deal registration programs can fail if they are too complex or if they aren’t automated. This creates more work for the partner making them less likely to use the program.

To learn more about easier deal registration, contact us.

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.

Partner University: The Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack

Marketing technology has seen incredible growth over the last year and that is only going to continue. The increase in digital channels, technological expansion, and consumer interaction with brands requires modern solutions that keep partnerships growing. With the right marketing technology, your partnership can grow exponentially. In this post, we’ll show you which tools you need to keep your business growing by building the ultimate marketing tech stack.

Finding the right partner marketing tech stack requires an understanding of what it actually is. Marketing technology stacks are a group of tools that marketers leverage to simplify marketing processes and improve partnership activities. These tools not only assist with marketing automation, they also provide measurements of activities and help partners increase spending efficiency. Together, these tools facilitate growth and help partners streamline collaboration for improved marketing campaigns that communicate with customers in efficient and personalized ways. 

The Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack

With over 8,000 marketing technology solutions in 2020, we decided to pare this down to categories that are most important and relevant for channel partner marketing and sales. Forrester also did a great article around technologies for Channel Marketing, but we wanted to share what we found in our experience not just the tools. Each partnership and business varies, and there isn’t a one size fits all option. The right tools for your business depend on your current and future marketing goals. 

Tech Stack Segments

There are seven marketing tech segments that companies and partners must build their stack based on the areas that are most important for them. 

  • Promotion and Advertising – Software that promotes your brand and increases traffic to your website
  • Sales and Commerce – Improves online and offline shopping experiences
  • Social Engagement and Relationships – Focuses on customer success, social media and the overall management of customer relationships
  • Content and Consumer Experience – Content management, email marketing, marketing automation, apps and other software that integrates with both sales and customer success departments
  • Analytics – Tools for measuring campaign effectiveness
  • Data – Databases to get enriched information and insights on your prospects and leads 
  • Management – Software that facilitates collaboration across teams for a more complete alignment strategy

Once you understand where your partnership needs to focus, building your ultimate tech stack becomes easier. 

Necessities and Nice-to-Have Tools

It’s also important to consider the necessities for your team. There are must-have tools that boost efficiency, increase collaboration, and improve communication between partners. Additionally, there are nice-to-have tools that facilitate organization and creativity. Creating the ultimate partner marketing tech stack requires a focus on the must-haves, and a consideration of the nice-to-haves if the budget allows for them. Keeping your stack lean helps protect against having too many services that confuse partners and lessens the financial impact of unused tools and software.

Why is this Stack Important?

Now that you have a better understanding of the right tools for your ultimate partner marketing tech stack, you need to know why the stack you choose is important. While there isn’t a defined stack for each business, there are essential tools that help your partnership grow based on your terms. Your marketing tech (martech) stack should meet the needs of your organization, facilitate your overall strategy, and solve any current problems you have. Creating a flexible stack that scales and automates as you grow enhances your processes and doesn’t limit your growth due to cost or overall capabilities. 

What Are the Components of the Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack?

A fully developed martech stack includes different tools that work together seamlessly. Regardless of your overall goals, the ultimate stack for your partnership should include:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Software that stores customer information and helps build relationships for increased engagement
  • Project Management – Tools that increase collaboration by streamlining workflows and simplifying communication between teams.These tools increase organization across partnerships and let members easily track the progress of each project.
  • Marketing Automation – Software that automates email marketing, social media and lead generation workflows. This component lets you create personalized messages across campaigns that run constantly, without manual effort.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Software that improves search rankings with keyword research, content audits and backlink building for online growth.
  • Content Management System (CMS) – Manages, stores, and publishes online content without requiring new code each time.
  • Social Media Management – Tools that help you keep track of brand mentions, schedule social media posts, and access user analytics.

Depending on your business model and requirements, your partner marketing tech stack may include all of these components, a few of them, or others that aren’t mentioned. A solid martech stack provides the tools necessary for growth in areas that are important, without the bloat of software that you won’t use or don’t need. Careful strategizing helps you choose the options that best fit your company, goals and growth requirements.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, consider how each component in your marketing tech stack works together. Most of the software available integrates with a variety of tools, making onboarding and integration simpler and faster for the entire company.

xAmplify Helps You Create the Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack

xAmplify partner relationship management (PRM) solutions combine the tools and software your business needs into an automated system. With tools that align processes, improve workflows, facilitate communication and help increase sales and results, xAmplify helps you create the ultimate partner marketing stack so you and your partners can focus on growth.

If you’re ready to grow your business with a martech stack that meets your partnership’s needs, schedule an xAmplify demo for more information.