What good is Partner Relationship Management to me?

prm advantages

I'm a channel manager, an account manager, a reseller in the software industry

We all use software applications, products, computer programs or whatever you want to call them to make our lives or jobs easier. But the same product will mean different things to different people. What good is a PRM (Partner Relationship Management system) to me or a 360 degree analysis of partner relationship management systems from the users' point of view. Here follows.

If you are a vendor with a product preferably in its growth or mature stage, with a price meaty enough to entice resellers or selling in high volumes, then you're talking channel. The current crisis has put emphasis on another factor, which is valid for direct and indirect sales likewise: your product must offer a clear solution to a problem or have the capability to be bundled with other products offering a broader solution. Why problem solving has increased its role? Because end-customers buying behavior and motivation have also shifted. Sierra Summit Group have put purchase motivators very neatly into their white paper Survival of the Fittest:

  1. Reduce expenses and provide a fast ROI
  2. Provide measurable business efficiencies that keep a company competitive
  3. Enable a company to maintain or improve its position with customers while functioning with fewer resources and reduced manpower
  4. Increase sales/revenue

It's a Win-Win-Win situation

Can we actually extrapolate these motivators for all the players in the channel: vendors, resellers/ VARs (we're talking here about single-tier sales model and will use the terms resellers and VARs interchangeably hopefully without offending anyone), end-customers? Definitely. Can a PRM help vendors and resellers in their attempts to reduce expenses, stay competitive, etc.? Definitely. We'll see how this is achieved for each role.

I'm a channel manager. What good is a PRM to me? Effects
Vendor's channel manager Centralized reports on best selling products, account managers, reseller partners. "Big picture" easier to grasp. Better market knowledge and ability to provide measurable business efficiencies that keep a company competitive.
Manage easily large number of account managers each with tens/ hundreds of resellers. More time to discuss with account managers and concentrate on business development Increase sales & revenue / Reduce channel conflict.
More time to interact with Sales Manager/ Direct sales force
Secure preference with top partners. Attract productive resellers. Increase resellers' interest in your company and products. Improve chances of success.
I'm an account manager. What good is a PRM to me? Effects
Account manager Manage large number of resellers from tens of countries, different currencies, price lists and conditions. Enable a company to maintain or improve its position with customers while functioning with fewer resources and reduced manpower.
Real time sales reports, info on best selling partners. Concentrate on best selling partners (Pareto 80/20 rule applies here as well) and increase overall ROI.
Automate order processing, payments, invoicing Relieve account managers of routine, repetitive tasks that do not bring any value and, done automatically, achieve the same result, only much faster.
Reduce expenses.
More time to understand resellers' challenges, help with end-customer negotiations, organize joint marketing activities -> Increase sales/revenue and efficiency of marketing activities.
Access to end-customer information Secure market share in case reseller drops out. Marketing campaigns to existing customer base -> repeat buys/ up sell/ cross sell
I'm a reseller/VAR. What good is a PRM to me? Effects
Reseller partner Electronic product delivery, order and payment processing 24x7. Location irrelevant. Language not a barrier due to standardized, multi-language communication. Reduce expenses and provide a fast ROI/ Enable a company to maintain or improve its position with customers while functioning with fewer resources and reduced manpower.
No need for reporting to vendor - reports are done automatically. More time to concentrate on new customers.
Fast lead distribution - hot leads are still hot. Latest marketing information and sales tools available round the clock. Easy to manage marketing campaigns. Increase sales/revenue.
Access to end-customer information Improved market knowledge. Secure market share.
Marketing campaigns to existing customer base -> repeat buys/ up sell/ cross sell

I mentioned the word "time" in four instances in the table above. The fact is, unless you sell in high volume via resellers/ distributors/ retailers like Software House International (SHI), Amazon, CDW, PC Ware, SOS Developers (and the list could go on) you need to spend more time understanding customer needs. Without this you cannot sell directly and you cannot help your reseller partners either. And it is especially true in the case of complex sales which require much more knowledge of customer needs, profile, buying behavior and potential.

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