It almost seems like every single business operates with a partner (or ten).
And no wonder. With a host of benefits ranging from cost-savings to potential tax benefits, the advantages that your business gets out of partnerships can truly transform your overall performance and business growth.
Yet, having the partnerships themselves on hand is one thing, and being able to manage them adequately is a whole different challenge. That's where having the right partner relationship management (PRM) tools come in.
Read on for a full breakdown on what partner relationship management software is, its key features, the benefits it can bring to your business, and even how to select the right one for you.
What is PRM software?
In its simplest iteration, PRM software was created to help channel sales managers and channel marketers. It is designed to help them specifically with connecting and automating all the separate pieces of their partner management process within a single tool. It's a centralized platform or a portal that's dedicated to serving your channel partners.
Moreover, it’s key not to confuse a customer relationship management (CRM) tool with PRM software. Both tools have different features and serve different segments of business stakeholders.
In addition, you'll find that by centralizing all the partner relationship management in one platform, your channel managers can safely remove unnecessary steps from their workflow. They can also start optimizing —or fully automating— essential tasks like education, and lead registration.
Therefore, it enables partner managers to achieve more in less time. This, in turn, can keep your partners satisfied and productive, which can help you grow your business partnerships.
What does a PRM software do?
Now that we have a concrete idea about what a PRM entails, let’s take a look at what the software aims to do.
PRM software provides a multitude of items and functions to its users. These might include training, certification controls, product information, marketing materials, even collaboration forums.
Furthermore, by having web-based PRM software, you’ll have all the benefits of an online portal, where your partners can access these resources globally. Of course, to adhere to a healthy cybersecurity protocol, your partners will have to use log-ins as supplied by the software administrator.
The most common features of PRM software
With so many different vendors, it’s natural that every PRM software provider creates their product a bit different than the others on the market. Yet, most will have these common features in order to provide the core functionality:
- Partner onboarding: At the very least, most PRM software will be equipped with a basic automated partner onboarding process.
- Central management portal: As we previously stated, one of the greatest benefits that a PRM can provide is centralization of information. A one-stop location for partners to get information they need such as documents, brochures, co-branded collateral, training, and most importantly deal information.
- Resources: A basic PRM should enable you to share education and sales enablement resources.
- MDF: A crucial element of your partner program: monitor how you are managing partner funds. Quickly review, approve, or reject marketing fund requests. Easily ensure that funds are being used to improve partner performance and drive revenue.
- Forecasting: Capabilities for forecasting channel sales and collecting data for analytics of partner performance numbers and effectiveness.
- Preventing channel conflicts: By ensuring that leads are not double-assigned by error, a PRM will have processes in place to prevent sales and channel conflicts due to human error.
What are the benefits of PRM software?
By reading this far, you've now become a little familiar with some of the benefits that a PRM software would be able to provide to your business. We’ll now provide a more thorough breakdown to further explain the multitude of benefits that a well-tailored PRM software can grant to both your business and your business partners.
There are two main aspects of what makes PRM software so effective at streamlining your PRM tasks and mitigating its challenges. Those are centralization and communication.
Centralization or consolidation is one of the main themes of current technologies, and that's exactly what a PRM can offer you. Consider a PRM to be the smartphone of your distribution channel. A good one will consolidate everything your channel needs, starting from product information and marketing guidelines to training materials. All of these essential data points are accessible to your partners on one platform. In addition, a channel manager can not only see but also manage everything on the platform from one place.
The other main benefit of using PRM software is streamlining and creating easy and open communication between you and your partners.
In order for a partner program to be successful, it's crucial for your partners to have the ability to communicate their feedback, questions, and concerns. In addition, it's equally as important for you to receive this feedback in a timely manner.
This way, you can foster a collaborative environment for your partners to bring in new ideas, as well as address any issues that pop up the moment they appear.
There are a host of other benefits that are a bit more related to specialized features in a PRM software. We've already covered some of them in the common features available in a PRM software, outlined above. However, there are many more benefits:
- Sales analytics: With this feature, you'll be able to track a partner's performance as well as their goals and overall product sales.
- Rewards/loyalty program management: If you want to implement an incentive program to boost your sales of a product or a service, then a PRM will be able to track the partner's progress and implement rewards when a milestone has been reached.
- Marketing and brand management: Having set guidelines on your PRM will help your partners use your logos and marketing materials consistently and will leave little room for error. They will be able to see the most updated version of your materials, so the risk of a partner using an outdated logo is low.
How to select the right PRM software for you
Not all PRM software is created equal. After all, you'll find that there are a variety of distribution channels. As such, PRM software will vary to meet the different needs of those distribution channels, as well as their industries.
This brings us to the three key aspects to consider when shopping for the right PRM software for you.
1. The size of your channel
The size of your channel refers to the current size it's operating within, as well as the growth you would like to achieve in addition to its current size.
It would be ideal to start by looking at your current channel size and select your PRM solution based on the capabilities you currently need. Yet still, keeping in mind your growth projections. It could potentially influence the capabilities you're looking for in a PRM software. Thus, you'll have to look for one with scalability.
For instance, you'll find that some PRM solutions are built with small, start-up channels in mind. On the other hand, other PRM software serve much larger international channels. Finding the right fit will be key to how well your PRM software helps your business.
2. Your industry
A hotel or a resort business will have channels that look rather different to a bookstore chain's channels. Thus, the PRM technologies needed for either business will differ.
For example, if you're a hotel, then getting PRM software that can help you track and monitor room bookings from third-party booking sites are crucial to your business. Or, if you're a car manufacturer, then having PRM software that enables you to implement incentive programs for your auto dealership partners would make the process much more engaging.
3. Your budget
As with any software, they tend to be a bit on the pricey side, especially if you're a startup and budget constraints are a daily struggle.
Consider your current budget and how much you can allocate to a PRM. Then, match your budget with the key capabilities you will need in your PRM. Start small with just the basics - you always have the option of adding more capabilities later down the road.
In addition, you should consider the possibility of licensing out to your partners. For example, there are some PRM software providers that charge per individual partner and there are others that incrementally increase once a specific number of partners sign-on.
Ready to check out PRM software?
We know it can be a bit overwhelming, at first, to take a deep dive into the world of PRM solutions and software. Yet, the numerous benefits and ease-of-use are too tempting to ignore for any business with an active and growing partner program.
Although you now have a blueprint of what PRM software is all about: its features, benefits, and even how to select one for your business, that's just the tip of the iceberg! If you want to see what a PRM solution can add to your business specifically, don’t hesitate to request a demo or start a free trial. In the meantime, you can learn all about the top five strategies for successful partner management.