If you’re reading this, the good news is that the number of partners in your partner program is probably growing. And new partner types are joining your partner program. The combination of both these factors implies you are on track to reach new customers, geographies, and verticals. So congratulations, this is exactly where you want to be.
Simultaneously, you are probably finding it challenging to manage the large number of different partner types you now have. All the while in the background of your growing partner program, you are embracing new elements to drive partner behaviors and outcomes. So maybe now is the time to think about a PRM platform.
According to Forrester’s no 1 prediction of channel trends in 2020, vendors’ channel programs will increase the number of partners by 10 in five years, and 80% of these new partners will be non-transactional. The complexity of recruiting, onboarding, and managing these new partners, each with their unique business practices and value propositions, will be daunting. This growth in your partner ecosystem is why you will need a partner relationship management system to manage complexities, optimize business operations, and deliver an excellent partner experience.
Partner Relationship Management (PRM) is often compared to Customer Relationship Management (CRM). But they are not the same. In reality, the management of multi-faceted and dynamic partnerships is beyond the capabilities of a CRM system. Therefore, a PRM platform is necessary, even with a CRM in place. But fear not!
Implementing a PRM platform is not as complicated, costly, or time-consuming as you might think. You just need to do your research to ensure the appropriate PRM platform is selected. To do this, you will need to take into consideration your channel strategy, existing systems, and business requirements.
Here are real life stories of the successful implementation of a PRM platform by two organizations, to overcome challenges in their partner management.
Extreme Networks, the End-to-End Cloud Driven Networking Solutions vendor, run numerous partner rebate programs. The purpose being to reward different partner behaviors including sale achievement and training certification attainment. Partners receive the rebates in cash pay-outs every quarter, once hitting their target.
Extreme Networks has thousands of partners. Their lack of an automated system meant that tracking target achievements and calculating rebates made the timely pay-out of rebates extremely challenging. Moreover, their sales data and training records resided in a separate Point Of Sale (POS) and Learning Management System (LMS) respectively. As such, much time was spent validating and reconciling targets achieved to present the aggregated rebates to partners. The management of these tasks was completed manually, on spreadsheets, resulting in not only a time-consuming process, but one that was very much prone to error.
Extreme Networks engaged with Channel Mechanics to deploy a partner rebate management solution to automate rebate calculation. A key selling point being the modularity of the platform. As such, the platform could integrate with their existing Partner Portal, POS and LMS systems through readily available Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Sales and training data could be set to automatically synchronize. This facilitated the calculation of rebates, which in turn were available to partners via dashboards on the partner portal. The implementation of the solution came with great ease and without disrupting or replacing any existing systems. By using this modular approach, they were future-ready to automate additional partner business’ processes, as and when needed.
Extreme Networks simplified their rebate management process and significantly reduced the average time to reconcile partner achievements. An additional bonus being the calculation and reporting of rebates to partners close to real time. Not only were they successful in achieving 100% accuracy in rebates calculation, but partners were able to have a real-time view of their target achievement, the gaps to be mitigated, and the total rebates earned. Best of all, by partnering with Channel Mechanics there was little impact on existing processes and systems.
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Over the years, a worldwide leader in IT and Networking expanded their distribution network. This expansion incorporated growth in their number of Tier 2 reselling partners. Through their distribution network, the company targeted several promotions at these Tier 2 partners, to gain mindshare and drive demand. Incorporating solution bundles, promotions needed to be easily modified and reconfigured based on market dynamics, including competitive attack and the partners changing business needs.
However, their existing tool was not set up to cater to Tier 2 partners. Nor could it create the solution bundles required for some of the promotions they sought to run. Having explored customizing their existing system, they came to the conclusion that there would be a significant cost to re-engineer it to cater for Tier 2 partners. In addition to being time consuming, the project offered no guarantee of success.
Instead of customizing their existing system, the company engaged with Channel Mechanics to deploy the Solution Bundle and Promotions modules of our PRM platform to deliver the required promotions to their Tier 2 partners. With our Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), the vendor could easily integrate with their existing system. All the while configuring and modifying the bundles and discounts with ease and flexibility.
By engaging with Channel Mechanics, the vendor achieved the desired results while fending off competition in the marketplace and gaining market share. The ability to deliver incredibly targeted promotions to Tier 2 partners eliminated the need to extend the promotional discount to all partners. Thereby achieving significant savings, as opposed to using the existing system to manage the bundled promotions. In addition to the cost savings achieved in deploying the new platform compared to customizing the existing system. A truly win-win solution.
To conclude, PRM platform implementation does not have to be costly. Instead, cost savings might be just around the corner!