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Use PRM to Prevent Channel Conflict


Always focus on the relationship.

By Chris Smith, VP of Technology

It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.
– Benjamin Franklin

partner-relationship-shake-hands.jpgPRM stands for Partner Relationship Management and 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 because all it takes is one mistake to ruin things. Good relationships, the ones that thrive, 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 my previous post, I discussed the importance of communication and how it is critical your PRM solution provide ways to improve communication. In this article, I tackle the next element of a good relationship management tool: Conflict Resolution.

All relationships have conflicts.

Conflict is inevitable. It’s how you resolve these conflicts that will make or break your relationships. There is a significant difference between business relationship conflicts and personal relationship conflicts. When conflicts in business arise, it is important to stay focused on the facts, and to check egos at the door. Conflicts in personal relationships should avoid focusing on the facts, but instead, get beneath the surface and uncover the feelings that are fueling each person’s viewpoint.

When talking about the channel, the 500-pound-gorilla in the room is always channel conflict. More specifically, direct sales crashing the party of partner sales efforts. How does a good PRM solution prevent channel conflict? By giving partners and relationship managers a way to clearly communicate who will be doing what on a particular sales opportunity. A list of possible activities related to referring, sales assistance, and closing of the opportunity should be available to the partner at the point of registration. Give the partner a way to indicate which sales activities they intend to do themselves, and which they want assistance with.

Your PRM solution should allow for a back-and-forth negotiation of these activities until all parties involved understand their commitment and are happy with the outcome. If this negotiation process becomes heated, remember to focus on the war, not the individual battles. Be aware that your long-term goal for this relationship is mutual growth in revenue. A little give-and-take from both sides can result in both parties feeling like they've won. When resolving conflicts in relationships, no one wins if either party feels they've lost. In relationships, both in business and in life, you win together or you lose together.

Where else does conflict happen?

partner-conflict-listen.jpgThis is just one example of how PRM can help resolve conflict. Others would include: clear communication of expectations for the relationship, and following up with timely reminders around those expectations. Also, give partners a quick and simple way to connect with the right person who can answer any questions, or resolve any concerns they may have. For instance, this could be a link in the portal to their relationship manager’s portal profile page with contact information and a built in way for them to send a message to that person.

Dealing with conflict effectively shows your commitment to your partner’s success. It lets them know you care about their opinion, and that you will do what you can to help them.

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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