What to Know Before You Commit to a Channel Management Solution

We have many emerging channel programs that come to us that want to bring in a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) solution before they have clear goals in mind about what they specifically hope to gain from it. When this happens we first take a step back and help them identify what their areas of struggle are in growing their channel, and how PRM specifically can help.

Before you go shopping for a channel solution, ensure your resources are being invested wisely by asking yourself these questions.

1. Have you developed a detailed channel program?

When we’re working with a new prospect, this is the first question we ask. If they haven’t sat down with all the stakeholders and worked through all the details, it’s too early for a channel management solution. Don’t get me wrong—you can definitely get on board with a company that will sell you a solution, but it may or may not fit your channel or company. And, without a well- conceived program, odds are it’s going to take much longer and cost much more for your channel to produce. In fact, you’re also much more likely to be facing channel failure in a few months, and we – like you – want you to be successful.

2. Do you have a channel partner profile?

Ensure you're starting down the right path by first having a clear plan.

Ensure you’re starting down the right path by first having a clear plan.

To make the most of your market, make sure you know exactly who you need as channel partners, where you’ll need them and how you’ll manage them. Your profile should strike the right balance of channel partners by geography and by vertical. Engage with too many in the same region or industry, and you get unnecessary competition and conflict. Not enough, and you’re not taking full advantage of opportunities. Develop your partner profile before you begin recruiting to help recruiters find and hire the best possible partners.

When the channel manager can track partner results and generate reports, she can make projections that will lead to even better partners in the future.

3. How will you motivate and empower new recruits?

After you have complete answers to questions one and two, you need to determine how you’ll motivate and empower channel partners to sell for you. You get strong partners by providing a strong program. Before you choose a channel management/PRM solution, you should know how you’ll train partners, what collateral they’ll need, and if you’ll be enacting a co-op or marketing development fund (MDF).

How will you distribute leads—and make sure partners are connecting with those leads? How will you know if the program’s working?

Answering these questions before you start your channel solution due diligence is the only way to ensure you’re selecting and implementing the best tool for your company.