Depending on your company’s size, you may have partners (resellers) that sell your product in various markets around the world and its critical you know your partners (Howdy Partner). When talking about an enterprise CRM, you really want a tool that will allow your partners to be an extension of your direct sales teams internally. If taken care of the right way, your enterprise partners can help augment your company’s revenue streams in key markets and areas your company make not have normally served. Below are a few key area’s to ensure your partners are happy and set up for success in channel space, specifically related to a robust online presence.
A robust PRM (Partner Relationship Management) application which typically ties into your CRM can help your partners reach their full potential. One of the key applications within a great PRM tool is deal registration and having the ability for your partners to submit deals online. Having a good deal registration tool will be the first key to building trust with your partner community. A deal registration tool can allow partners to be protected from both other competitors and even your direct sales teams. The simple definition of a deal registration tool is an application online that allows your partners to submit deals (opportunities) in which a product(s) are selected and estimated deal size is submitted (among other deal details). The deal then gets routed internally to your channel operations teams for approval or rejection. Another advantage to have deal registration in place, your forecast models become a bit clearer and give your insight into what your pipeline will look like in the future. When you have clear line of site to your potential forecast pipeline for the next few quarters open, so many more efficiencies in supply planning can be had, if this applies to your space.
One of the other key elements I have seen in the market place for partners is having a concept called “Line of Business Protection”. This concept is pretty straightforward in theory, but implementing in your company or organization can be a challenge. Essentially, what you want to do to your premier (top partners) partners is offer them exclusive line of business protection in that they are the only partner that is allowed to sell a product, product line or even your entire business offering to a certain end user. This has multiple advantages, but has to be used sparingly and with clear contracts and definition around how it works. This is especially useful in markets where your business is immature or non-existent.
Some other tools to consider offer to your partners after a robust deal registration tool is in place is a tool that that allows your partners to take advantage of training and certification application that gives your partners access to product training and certification on these products. This will allow the dissemination of information on your product line to go beyond your direct sales teams. In addition, as your business matures, the ability to offer rebates and incentives can be a key tool in expanding the white space of certain market segments. The rebates and incentives tool, although a great mechanism to expand your business, should be approached with caution in that you are exposed more legally and financially that you may have been in the past.
There are several ways to ensure your partners are getting the most of what the need to be successful. As mentioned above, it’s critical your partners feel like they are an extension of your company’s sales and marketing teams. I would say with your premier level partners, they really are this extension. The above is not an all-inclusive list of tools and recommendation for a robust partner relationship management tool, but it’s certainly a place to start. There will be more to come on this subject later since I happen to have a lot of hands on experience in this space.