Launching an indirect channel sales program is exciting, but I can tell by the questions I get from customers that this is an area that’s regularly underestimated in terms of planning and resources required. Here are some of the most common questions we hear as people embark on their partner relationship management journey and answers that I hope will help your company achieve success in your channel marketing program:
Why not just get the program rolling without a PRM software solution? If the program works, then we’ll invest in it.
The short answer is that incomplete commitment results in a predictable outcome: failure.
Having a PRM software solution in place makes your program real in the eyes of your prospective partners. It helps you recruit the best because they will see that you have thought through what will make your channel sales successful. It shows you’ve made a commitment to the program beyond your PowerPoint slides.
If you are successful in getting partners to sign up but have no systems in place for enablement or engagement, your time will become dominated by your first ten partners, which will take a toll on your overall recruitment efforts. In short, you’ll plateau and further growth will come at a much higher cost. Odds are you won’t hit the critical mass necessary to justify the program.
Why do I need a separate PRM program—why couldn’t I use my CRM program?
The main reason is the difference between partners and customers, between direct and indirect sales. Your internal sales cycle and partner sales cycle require different staging, support and activities from your company. A PRM solution allows you to manage that without getting in the way of established internal sales processes.
You can try it—some of our customers have come to us after attempting to combine their CRM and content management systems into a partner relationship management system. What they run into is conflicts between what they needed internally and what they needed for partners. Trying to make a CRM tool work as your PRM tool will ensure that it serves neither purpose well. It can also be very expensive to use your CRM this way. The Channeltivity PRM software integrates completely with existing CRMs, including salesforce.com, to help make implementation and training simple.
Why not build a PRM system ourselves?
Maybe you can, but that doesn’t mean you should. You wouldn’t build your own accounting system or CRM system because you know it’s not the best use of internal resources. If you’re thinking of creating a PRM system from scratch, there’s a good chance you’re underestimating the demands of the project. It’s the kind of investment that should really be reserved for the development of systems that support unique, proprietary processes.
Also, by foregoing the expertise offered by a PRM vendor that focuses on the intricacies of managing a partnership, you’re at risk of stalling your partner program in its early stages. About the time your channel program starts having success, it may very well implode under the pressure of growth and increasing partner demands. A partner relationship management software solution will offer the flexibility, scalability, analytics/metrics, and support that you will need to be successful out of the gates with your channel strategy.