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.
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.
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.
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.