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Use PRM to Connect with Partners


By Chris Smith, VP of Technology

office-talk-connected.jpegPartner Relationship Management (PRM) is a critical set of tools for companies hoping to engage and empower their channel partners. The relationship between you and your partners must always be managed and nurtured. When your partner feels ignored, the relationship is going to take a critical downturn. Good relationships, the ones that thrive, are built around four things:

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

Any software solution that promises to manage relationships needs to consider these cornerstones. In my previous post, I discussed how your PRM solution should help resolve and avoid conflict with partners. In this third article of my 4-part series, I tackle the next element of a good relationship management tool: Connection. It's critical to connect with your partners to form a lasting relationship.


The Ties that Bind

Whether it's talking with customer service on the phone, placing an order with your waiter or scheduling a meeting with a client, it's generally true that you have a better experience and are more loyal to those people with whom you've formed a connection.

On Starbucks questionnaires I get in my email, (yes, I want the bonus stars) they ask, "Did the staff make an effort to get to know you?" because they know that personal interactions build brand-loyalty and improve the customer experience.

When you get to know each other, even a little, it becomes easier to do business and work together and harder to treat each other badly. 

So how can you take small steps to form connections with your partners? There are large, broad choices around ease-of-doing business, partner incentives and profitability measurements that will affect whether partners like your partner program, but there are also small day-to-day choices you can make utilizing PRM tools in order to create connections with individual partners. Here are just a few ideas how:

  • Show an interest in your partner’s business. Your PRM should offer an effective way of getting to know your partner’s business goals and growth strategies. Use those tools to work directly with each partner. For instance, capture their business and marketing plans and have conversations about how you can support their goals. Be sure to implement these tools with the partner in mind so they feel like you're taking interest in their success, rather than simply creating metrics and setting hard-to-reach revenue goals.

  • Celebrate your partner’s successes. When your partner closes a big sales lead through your deal management system, make sure their relationship manager gets an immediate email or in-app notification. The PAM should then follow up with the partner, congratulate them, and can ask them if they need any assistance with the customer. It's always good to give a virtual high-five when someone achieves a goal.

  • Get to know the person behind the data. Does your PRM collect enough personal data on your partner users to allow you to make a personal connection? Consider adding social fields like Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. You can use these details to learn something about each user. For instance, I’m a huge Denver Broncos fan and anyone starting a meeting commenting on a Denver win would definitely be memorable to me. Sometimes it's the small details that begin the personal connection.

  • Personalize the experience to the individual. Don't overload partners with irrelevant or dated materials when they log in to your PRM. Make sure you are using effective targeting when posting content to your portal. Use some of the information you learned about them in the previous point to provide a greeting that is meaningful and personal. Build in “You might like…” suggestions when they download something based on their job function or past downloads. Give them direct links to relevant sales documents right on the deal registration page based on products in the deal, or the specific sales stage they are working through. Any number of small personal tokens can be included to help customize the experience for them and deepen the connection. 

The caring and nurturing of a relationship is not a task you can check-off your to-do list and be done with. It is an intentional and ongoing choice you make throughout the length of the relationship. The more of yourself you invest with your partners the longer and more productive the relationship will be. Good communication, effective conflict resolution, and connection are all critical to a good and lasting relationship with your partners.  

Chris-Smith-headshot.jpgChris Smith is Vice President of Technology at PartnerPath with more than 10 years of experience in technology development. 


Topics: Channel Best Practices, PRM

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