When an entrepreneur creates a new piece of technology that offers an innovative solution to a problem, they may have a winning idea. However, the way they approach the marketplace with that idea will determine whether or not they can actually make a buck.

While 20 years ago, start-ups were limited to internal sales teams until they could build up the necessary sales quota to attract a major distributor, tech entrepreneurs now have the opportunity to more quickly approach an international marketplace through channel partners. However, in order to drive success through such means, they need to engage a partner relationship management (PRM) solution.

Channel partners, or established organizations who engage in contractual relationships with the vendor to sell their product, offer vendors a greater geographic spread and access to an established customer relationships and brand awareness. However, vendors have to consistently nurture their relationship with channel partners because they loose much of the visibility into the sales process when they make the switch from complete reliance on an internal sales department to a majority reliance on channel partners. A PRM gives vendors the solutions they need to do so.

Organization

Managing partners can be something akin to managing a gourmet kitchen – each expert is moving in their own direction and orchestrating them all to accomplish the same goal means you’ve got to know what’s going on. A focus that is either too myopic or too abstract will be damning. In fact, disorganization is one of the fastest ways to sink the channel partner ship and ruin an otherwise lucrative venture.

If potential partners are approached with a disorganized business pitch or if existing partners aren’t provided the support they need to sell the vendor’s product – including training material, contracts, and marketing development fund (MDF) data – their response is going to be weak at best. A PRM designates professionalism and allows both partners and vendors to keep all of the relevant information in one spot. In turn, both parties can make better, more informed decisions. Such a seamless relationship will be quick to generate envy and actually attract other prospective partners to the vendor.

Accountability

Channel partners will stray if vendors don’t stay at the forefront of their mind. With a PRM, vendors can stay on top of reporting and ensure that both they and their partners are adhering to the guidelines initially laid out in the partner agreement. By maintaining consistent measurement and utilizing the increased visibility that a PRM offers, vendors can see which partners are performing well and which partners need to some additional prodding to produce profitable results.

Motivation

Partners have a lot going on and with considerable competition, vendors need to provide compelling opportunities. With a PRM, vendors can not only initiate partner challenges and occasions for increased revenue, they can also provide the critical day-to-day support that many often overlook. Likewise, through partner forums and learning management system integration, vendors can leverage educational opportunities and partner collaboration to stay at the forefront of partners’ minds and build greater product commitment.

Efficiency

Vendors need to (a) attend their partners’ needs in a timely manner and (b) be capable of making informed decisions resourcefully. Delays in partner recruitment, lead distribution or MDF programs lead to missed opportunities and revenue for both you and your partners. If vendors can’t process information quickly, their recruitment, onboarding and ongoing partner engagement will all suffer dramatically. Consequently, partners will get frustrated and move on from the product to a competitor who has it together.

Metrics

How do we know which performers are rising above and which need additional support? We measure – and we measure thoroughly. A strong PRM tool allows us to closely monitor multiple relationship variables. For instance, we can determine to what extent channel partners are engaging vendor material and requests through trending, or continuous analysis of PRM interaction. Concerns that are raised by drops in or consistently low trending can be further investigated through more direct metrics, such as sales and lead development time.