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Putting the 'R' in PRM


Never underestimate the power of communication.

communication-phone.jpgBy Chris Smith, VP of Technology

PRM stands for Partner Relationship Management and is a critical set of tools for companies hoping to engage and empower their channel partners. Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, customers, partners or the over-achieving neighbor down the street, all relationships are unique and above all, challenging. But the good ones, the thriving relationships, are built around these four things:

  1. Communication
  2. Conflict Resolution
  3. Connection
  4. Purpose

Any software solution that promises to manage relationships needs to consider these four cornerstones. In this first article of my planned 4-part series, I tackle the first element of a good relationship management tool: Communication.

Every good relationship requires good communication. In the PRM context, we like to classify communication into two broad categories: active and passive.

Active communication is pushed to the user.

Examples of active communication include:

  • Emails: Any partner action that results in the creation of a record should send a confirmation email to the partner who submitted it. This could be the registration of a new deal, the submission of a marketing claim (MDF or Co-op) or a partner directory profile update. The email should include details on timing and next steps for the partner.

    • Tip! Time-sensitive items should include automated email reminders. Do you want your partners to follow up on a new lead you’ve assigned them within X number of days? Do your marketing requests expire if not claimed within Y days? Schedule friendly reminders to your partners. As in any relationship, clear and timely communication is needed to avoid frustrations and misunderstandings.

  • In-App messages: These are short touch points that don’t convey a ton of detail – but are meaningful none-the-less. Let your partners know you are thinking about them by alerting them to newly added documents, fresh training videos, or even that upcoming webinar you really want them to attend. Think of these as text messages (or status updates depending on your medium of choice!) you send to friends during the day.

  • Activity feed: When your partners log in to your PRM solution they should be welcomed by name and shown front-and-center what you’ve been up to since they last logged in. These updates should be focused on responses related to the partner’s recent activities such as deal approvals, marketing claims paid, or even new users from their company who’ve registered for portal access. In any relationship it’s good practice to let the other person know you heard what they said, and this is what you did about it. Partners are no different.

Passive communication is content made available for a partner to access as needed.

resource-library.jpgExamples of passive communication include:

  • Resources: A good PRM system has a resource library that helps partners find documentation within a couple of clicks. Don’t make your partners swim through multi-level expandable directory structures to find content important to their business. Use a structure that is no more than category and one set of subcategories deep. Even better, make sure you can tag every resource to specific steps in your program workflows, and also by industry, and document type. The goal is to provide partners access to the content they need when they need it.

  • Content pages: Create pages inside your portal that partners can access on their own to educate themselves about your programs. The very first content page you create should be a “Getting Started” page. Give your partners a list of steps to start effectively selling your products and solutions. Make it simple and fun and don’t add unnecessary complexity. A good getting started page can be much more effective than a hard-to-follow and time-consuming on-boarding process. Next, create an FAQ page specific to each partner’s level and type. A one-size-fits-all FAQ page is going to be largely ignored. Don’t bury your partners with details that don’t apply to them.

  • New partner on-boarding: Speaking of on-boarding, make sure your portal allows you to build an on-boarding track that your partners can walk through from start to finish without hands-on involvement by your channel team. Make it self-service, self-explanatory, meaningful, and fun! If you’ve taken the time to set up all the other communication elements discussed above, then your on-boarding process can be as simple as walking the partner through each of these in a specific order along with a few video examples.

    • Tip! Be sure your PRM tracks each user’s progress through your on-boarding process and also captures any questions they have along the way. This leads to better reporting and also help you improve your processes.

A good PRM solution should include active and passive communication in many forms throughout the user experience. A well-communicated-to partner understands your goals and expectations for the relationship and hopefully knows how to communicate back leading to better engagement.

No relationship is without conflict, and next month I’ll share what good conflict resolution in a PRM solution should look like. Until then, if you’d like to see the active and passive communication tools PartnerPath has in place, contact us for a demo.

Chris-Smith-headshot.jpgChris Smith is Vice President of Technology at PartnerPath with more than 10 years of experience in technology development. He directs and manages the development and implementation of our PRM.

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Topics: Channel Best Practices, PRM

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