Scaling Partner Relationship Management: 6 Principles

Updated June 27, 2024
Published in PRM (Partner Relationship Management)

Scaling partner relationship management isn’t just about throwing more budget at your program or hiring more headcount.

It’s about paying close attention to your partners’ wants and needs, and scaling new tools and strategies to support them.

As your program grows, the new partners you onboard may have different expectations, forcing you to rethink your incentive structure. You may also need new resources and collateral to support partners in new verticals. If you’re expanding to new geos, you might need to think about translation and cultural differences. And you’ll need to make these changes in ways that maintain a consistent partner experience.

In short, there’s a lot to consider.

To break it all down, we’ve conferred with 10 accomplished leaders to bring you 6 tips for scaling partner relationship management. But first, let’s refresh your memory on partner relationship management.

What is partner relationship management?

Most folks in high tech are probably familiar with customer relationship management, and partner relationship management — PRM, for short — has some similarities.

Like CRM, PRM is also about:

  • Developing strong relationships
  • Data gathering and analysis
  • Driving revenue growth
  • Using software to track, train, incentivize, and reward

Yet, as its name implies, all these activities revolve around partners, not customers. Partner relationship management encompasses all the processes and software required to help you and your partners get the most out of your relationships.

scaling partner relationship management

6 Key Tenets for Scaling Partner Relationship Management

1. Scale PRM When You’re Ready

You might have great ambitions to become the next HubSpot, Shopify, or AWS partner program, but don’t get too far ahead of yourself. 

Before you even start brainstorming ways to expand your partner program, take a moment to assess whether you’re actually ready.

Here are some signs you’re ready for scaling your partner relationship management:


Scaling your partner relationship management makes no sense if your current channel program isn’t demonstrating a moderate level of success. It’s okay to have low partner engagement — maybe you initially recruited the wrong partners or had to pivot your product and change your ideal partner profile (IPP).

But if a good portion of your existing partners are engaged and selling your product successfully, your onboarding and activation processes are likely in good shape. Indicators of engagement could be: deal registrations, portal logins, certifications, resource downloads, and MDF requests. For more ideas to boost engagement, check out Partner Engagement: What It Is and How to Improve It.


Are all your processes running smoothly, like a well-oiled machine? Is everyone following the same documented, team-reviewed process? Can you team and technology handle a doubling or tripling of deal registrations or do you have a lot of manual or ad-hoc procedures that will create bottlenecks?

Review your processes and make sure they’re designed for increased volume. If you’re not there yet, you may need stronger, more well-defined SOPs and systems, and are not yet ready to scale.


Pipeline readiness can manifest in a few ways:

  1. Your engaged partners reliably hit the quarterly revenue and co-marketing goals outlined in their business plans. Your partner recruiting efforts are working well enough to rinse and repeat in other markets.
  2. Your pipeline of partner-sourced leads is healthy in the regions you’re already working in. That means you can go and seek out more in other geos or verticals.
  3. You’re getting some inbound leads (partner-sourced or not) from regions or industries you don’t currently support. And you have partners with contacts in those regions or industries who can help you access more leads. Or, you at least know these potential partners exist and where to find them.


Maybe your strategy team has identified specific trends or new regulations that could make your product appealing in new markets. Or perhaps customers that solution partners have implemented have higher satisfaction and retention rates than other customers. If you also have too many incoming customers for current partners to handle, you may be ready to recruit new ones. New partners could be a key part of your GTM strategy.

For example, Aseem Jha, Founder of Legal Consulting Pro, knew his company was ready to expand into new markets when clients kept requesting specialized expertise in a new field: intellectual property law. 

This helped us identify a niche in the legal outsourcing landscape and strategically entered the field catering to a broader clientele.”


You have a fully-featured PRM with the functionality you need to onboard and support hundreds (even thousands) more partners — without skyrocketing license costs. There’s automation in place to handle common processes and your PRM is fully integrated with your CRM to avoid manual data entry. If not all of these statements are true, it might make sense to update your partner relationship management to ensure you’re ready to scale.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve got the stats to move forward, chat with some of your peers who’ve already scaled their partner relationship management. When did they know they were ready?

2. Update Your Ideal Partner Profile As You Go

The partners you’ve been recruiting have gotten your program to where it is now, but they may not be the partners you’ll need to scale your partner program and revenue-generating relationships moving forward.

To target the partners who will help you reach your growth, marketing, and revenue goals, re-examine your current ideal partner profile (IPP) and see where it may need to change. Schedule time to do this every year or even every quarter.

  • Are you looking for partners with higher ARR?
  • Should you be going after partners with a bigger partner team?
  • Do you need partners in a new vertical or region?
  • What about your points of contact at partner organizations? Should they now be heads of partnerships rather than partner managers?

Joseph Braithwaite, Managing Director of EvolveThinking, a management consulting firm, emphasizes the need for partners that will complement your product roadmap or growing suite of services.

“My clients come to me with broad-ranging issues, and to ensure the client challenges are fully addressed, I bring in partner firms to tackle the areas that are not my niche. Bringing on more partners like this allows me to focus on what I am good at and ensure the client is satisfied with their problems being addressed.”

To make sure he’s on the right track with his IPP, he has face-to-face meetings with potential partners. “Doing business is important, but if that comes at the expense of our reputation or negatively impacts our partner culture, it’s not worth it.”

3. Audit Your Program Regularly

As we already hinted in Step 2, your program must evolve and change to meet the growing needs of a diverse partner ecosystem. Shanique Brophy, Marketing Executive at Rocketseed, email signature management software, suggests focusing on three main things as you perform your audit: 

  1. The right rewards, to ensure each partner gets the maximum reward for each deal they secure, no matter the size.
  2. The right support, to reassure partners you will help them succeed.
  3. The right value prop, to make it easy to see how a partnership with your company will benefit them.

Specifically, you’ll want to re-evaluate your:

  • Partner onboarding process
  • Training and certification
  • Co-marketing/channel marketing
  • Standard partner business plans
  • Deal and lead flow
  • Deal and referral commission structure
  • Partner agreements
  • Tech stack (especially your Partner Portal)

You might also want to think about establishing partner tiers. Alari Aho, founder of time-tracking app, Toggl did this to give more dedicated attention to partners that best fit his company’s ideal partner profile.

Read our comprehensive blog post for a step-by-step guide to partner program audits.

4. Continuously Source Partner Feedback

Involving your partners in your efforts to grow and expand may not only surface some great ideas but also deepen your relationships.

As Joseph puts it, “Partnerships shouldn’t be about calling them up when you have work to do. Partnership should be brought into the fold for decisions on client engagement where they will play a part.”

Your partner managers should already be keeping in touch with assigned partners regularly. But make it part of your team’s standard operating procedure to do a more through call with partners on a quarterly basis to elicit their feedback. Or, you could gather it through a satisfaction survey and reward the partners who fill it out.

John Xie, Co-Founder and CEO of Taskade, an AI-powered productivity platform, experimented with various partner feedback mechanisms so he could adapt and refine his program dynamically. “As we thought about expanding into new markets and verticals, we adopted a ‘test-and-learn’ mindset, using pilot programs to understand the nuances of each new area before fully committing.”

He continued, “This strategy, combined with a transparent internal case for building out our team based on pilot success stories, ensured that we not only grew our program sustainably but also maintained a consistent and high-quality partner experience throughout the expansion.”

Regardless of your approach, always close the loop. Thank partners for their contributions and make an effort to implement their feedback.

5. Do the Necessary Prep Work for Geo and Vertical Expansion

Different industries and geographies have different rules, go-to-market strategies, and operating procedures, so it’s important not to jump in headfirst. Before you start working with partners in new markets, you’ll need to figure out:

  • If there are legal restrictions. Diana Zheng, Head of Marketing at Stallion Express, a Canadian eCommerce shipping solution, explains, “Our team has faced regulatory challenges in emerging markets, which necessitated agility and proactivity in our approach, looking for creative solutions and relying on our partner network for support and insights.” One of the most significant challenges she faced was dealing with the intricate customs regulations and the import/export controls imposed by various countries. “For example, customs clearance processes are complex and change frequently in some areas, which could result in delays and increased administrative costs. Different tax regulations and import duties in other countries also made it difficult to estimate shipping costs accurately and comply with local laws.” Strict packaging and labeling requirements in some jurisdictions also necessitated careful attention to detail to prevent penalties or shipment rejections. “Managing these regulatory complexities required active involvement with local authorities, keeping up with changing regulations, and implementing robust compliance processes across our partner network.”
  • If you need country or industry-specific certifications. Do some research or consult a few trusted partners who do business in that region or category to help you prepare.
  • Who the industry leaders are. What do these people care about? How can you adapt your incentives and better-together message to get them on board? Lean on any partners you know who play in this space for guidance. Global expansion consulting firms can be super helpful in these cases. Alari says, “Partnering with local entities who understood the cultural and business nuances of these new markets was a strategic approach that facilitated smoother entries and quicker adaptation to local needs.”
  • How you’ll handle different currencies. You’ll need to do some internal work to adjust pricing calculators and enable sales folks who may be handling deal registrations or referrals from partners in new geos.
  • How you’ll handle translation. Not all partners may need translated resources and training, but some probably will. Get input from partners and customers, or geo-specific consultants, and look for PRM software that will automatically translate your Partner Portal for you.
  • What your volume of new leads/deals is. This is a tougher nut to crack — after all, no one can predict the future. As a start, think about trends or new regulations that your product could help customers in this new market manage and your total addressable market by mapping your ideal customer profile to marketing databases.

Read our in-depth guide to optimize your global channel management strategy.

6. Build Out Your Team

It may seem obvious to you that you need more resources to scale partner relationship management, but it may not be obvious to the people who need to approve budget for those new hires.

Ashwin Ramesh, CEO of Synup, suggests doing some projections to show how these hires will impact future revenue.

“Asking to hire more people needs to be based on clear proof: more partners, partners happier with help, and how additions could help problems or do more. By showing data on how new people could fix bottlenecks or boost what we could do with a bigger team, I could clearly show the value of growing compared to just the costs. It focused on potential new money coming in and building the partner community.”

Bonus #7: Use the Right Technology

Sourcing the best partners, providing excellent partner training, deploying clear communications, and using technology to monitor and reward partner success are critical components of a powerful program.

But trying to manage all that in disparate spreadsheets, Google Docs, and Trello boards won’t set you up for success, particularly as your program grows.

According to Robert Kaskel, Chief People Officer at background check platform, Checkr, “B2B partnerships are built on mutual trust and respect, so you need a scalable method of maintaining those relationships so you don’t drop the ball as you expand. Invest in good PRM software to meet those shifting needs, especially as you attempt to enter completely fresh markets.”

A self-service PRM like Channeltivity has everything you need for running and scaling partner relationship management, with modules specifically designed to:

…and more. Check out the depth and breadth of the Channeltivity platform for yourself. Schedule a demo today.


New Channel Partner Manager? Here’s How to Excel in 6 Ways


The Complete Guide to Partner Marketing in 2024