How to Pull Off a Successful PRM Launch

Updated November 30, 2023
Published in Partner Relationship Management System, PRM (Partner Relationship Management), PRM Solution

You’re days away from your PRM launch, and you’re feeling confident.

Then, reality hits, and your plan falls apart.

Sales Ops tells you that they won’t be able to clean up your partner contacts before launch. Your marketing team tells you that some assets “weren’t prioritized” and won’t be making it into the portal. Your engineering team lets you know that they can’t finish creating a critical part of partner training until next quarter.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an unusual experience. And while there will always be hiccups when implementing a new system, your PRM launch doesn’t have to be so stressful.

All it takes is the right preparation. To help you facilitate a smooth launch, we’ve gathered tips from five folks who’ve done it before. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to getting your PRM off the ground — without a hitch.

PRM launch

7 Steps to a Smooth PRM Launch

1. Solidify Your Partner Program

It seems silly to put this first — if you have a PRM, you presumably have a partner program.

But not all partner programs are as nailed down as they need to be. To launch a PRM successfully, you need a solid understanding of what your partners need to be successful, including how partners:

  • Learn about your product and your program’s rules of engagement
  • Go to market with you
  • Be rewarded

As Asif Mansoor, ISV Partnerships Lead at Google, says, “Updating your partner community through webinars, tutorials, and success stories showcasing real-world applications and benefits at a regular cadence is essential to improve long-term adoption.”

Beyond that, you’ll need to know how your partner program works internally.

Each of these workflows plays a role in PRM configuration, so getting them right is paramount. A good way to get everyone on the same page is to draft SOPs or standard operating procedures.

While writing and approving SOPs, you’re bound to come across some gaps that you and your teammates can work together to close. And you may also find areas where you can simplify processes — for you and your partners.

If you’re having trouble, you may not be ready for a PRM just yet. 

2. Think Through Your End-to-End Tech Stack

A PRM isn’t a standalone product.

At the very least, it will need to integrate with your CRM, and it will likely need to integrate with other platforms, too, like marketing automation and digital credentialing systems. In addition, you may decide you want to enable single-sign-on (SSO) for your PRM. And you’ll need to figure out how to migrate any partner data you already have — which can be a major project in and of itself.

Campbell Tourgis, COO of Wainbee, explains, “The difficulties of data migration became more evident when we discovered duplicates, discrepancies, and missing details in our CRM. Having a comprehensive data migration plan could have strengthened our partner relationships from the get-go.”

Thinking through technical pieces of your PRM launch early and leaving some buffer room in your project plan can save you a headache down the line. Include your IT team and Salesforce admin in these conversations, as they will be helping you manage your integrations and have intimate knowledge of each tool that you don’t.

3. Align Cross-Functional Teams

Partnerships is a highly cross-functional sport, and all of those teams will play a role in your launch. As we’ve just discussed, IT will help with integrations. Marketing will help with content. Sales will influence the deal registration process. Product may develop partner training.

Marshal Davis, President of Ascendly Marketing, cited coordinating with busy employees as the “biggest hurdle” in their last client’s PRM launch.

Because there are a lot of moving pieces, involve these teams early. We recommend creating an overall project plan first and then meeting with each team to review your ideal timeline.

Besides nailing down deliverable due dates, these meetings may expose roadblocks you haven’t considered or reveal new partner program ideas you hadn’t thought of before. As the project progresses, send gentle reminders to keep everyone on track.

Marshal took a similar approach to keep everyone aligned with a “streamlined process for document submission and clear, achievable deadlines, backed by a system of reminders and follow-ups.”

Importantly, he also designated departmental representatives responsible for coordinating and expediting the collection of documents, which “ensured that the portal was populated with accurate and timely information.”

4. Let Good Be Better Than Perfect

It’s tempting to wait until you feel your PRM launch plan is in perfect shape before going through with the implementation.

But it won’t ever be perfect, so don’t let it hold you back. Focus on what you can control and think of the launch as a V1 — you can always iterate over time.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you need to go live with partner training, or can that be added in later?
  • Can some integrations wait a few months?
  • Do you need to activate and configure every module, or can you introduce new ones over time?
  • Is an asset so important that it needs to be in the portal on day one?

Marshal has a strategy for this, too: “Our strategy for selecting launch assets was driven by the goal of reducing customer service interactions as efficiently as possible. With that in mind, we prioritized Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), recognizing their significant impact in reducing internal queries and workload. Less critical documents were scheduled for subsequent integration, based on their potential impact and user demand.”

5. Don’t Forget User Testing

Chances are, there will be mistakes when you first configure your PRM. We’re human, after all!

But extensive testing ahead of your PRM launch will keep those oversights to a minimum. First, run through the portal yourself — as a partner user and as a fellow peer.

  • Are you seeing the right modules and materials?
  • Do workflows function as expected?
  • How do your reports and dashboards look?
  • Are the integrations working?
  • Does the PRM work on every browser?
  • Are you getting relevant notifications in your PRM and via email?

Jot down what might not be working, as well as any other thoughts you might have about how to make the portal more appealing and intuitive for internal and external users. Once you’ve resolved those problems, hand the PRM to your teammates for another pass.

But don’t stop there — you want as diverse a testing team as possible. If you feel comfortable, ask a few of your most trusted partners to give it a whirl. You may even consider doing a “beta launch” with a smaller group of partners.

Draven McConville, CEO of Klipboard, shares, “In my opinion, a carefully limited rollout is crucial before launch. The strategic release to a small set of users before the broader launch allows for real-world testing that guarantees users will get a consistent and optimal experience.”

Asif agrees, “It’s critical to conduct user testing sessions with a diverse group of users — including those unfamiliar with cloud technologies — to gather feedback on the portal’s intuitiveness. We also implemented A/B testing for different features to understand user preferences and behaviors.”

Doing a beta launch comes with another bonus, too: it generates excitement.

6. Built Momentum

Just launching your PRM doesn’t mean partners will flock to it right away. They need to know (1) it exists and (2) what’s in it for them.

So get a PRM marketing strategy going before you even launch. Here are some examples of what you might include in your pre-launch marketing:

  • A new incentive structure
  • The quick and easy deal reg or MDF request process
  • A screenshot of your home page or other important pieces of the portal
  • Training and certification highlights
  • Quotes from partners who went through beta testing

Share this information in ways your partners will see and appreciate. Here are some ideas:

  • Email sequences
  • Messages in shared Teams or Slack channels
  • Regular partner meetings
  • Press releases
  • Blog posts
  • Newsletters

Asif also used collaborations with key influencers in the tech and cloud community to amplify reach. But, he warns, “It’s important to be mindful of our partner’s time. Rather than asking them to watch or engage with all of our content, we began to incorporate a section about our new PRM at the end of our regularly scheduled touchpoints, which helped us create momentum.”

And don’t forget to build excitement about your PRM launch internally, too. You want to commend your colleagues for helping out with the launch and draw attention to the important work you and your team are doing.

Jon Morgan, CEO of VentureSmarter, suggests, “Hold regular team meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and successes and create a countdown to the launch day to keep everyone motivated.”

Marshal hosted internal webinars and workshops to emphasize the portal’s efficiency and value to the company’s revenue. Draven even hosted a launch party to help partners feel more connected to the big release.

7. Continue Soliciting Feedback

The PRM you launch with shouldn’t be the same PRM you have a year later. 

To continue serving your partners in the best way possible, you’ll need to improve your portal over time. And the best way to do that is to request partner feedback.

Remind partner managers to ask partners for portal feedback in their regular meetings. Or take a page out of the customer success playbook and send an annual NPS survey. For more instant feedback, send short, periodic satisfaction surveys and encourage participation with a raffle or other reward for partners that respond.

Keep your partners informed and engaged as you add to and modify the portal. A partner newsletter can help you highlight new features, recognize the partners doing great things, and conduct tutorials to continue educating your PRM users.

Pick a PRM That’s Easy to Launch

Launching your PRM is a big deal, but it doesn’t have to be a big pain. Following these seven steps will get you well on your way to building a portal that your partners will actually want to use.

But all the prep in the world won’t make a difference if your PRM isn’t easy to configure.

Channeltivity’s self-service partner portal has all the features you could possibly need in your PRM, from joint business plans to granular user permissions to an open API. All of this is configurable with point-and-click settings, enabling our customers to get their portal up and running in weeks — not quarters.

See what makes Channeltivity the PRM of choice for high-tech companies by booking a demo today.

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