The Channel Performance Problem – And How to (Really) Fix It


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Partner relationship management (PRM) systems are broken and hurting you — they're cumbersome, and only superficially address the real issue of maintaining and growing partner relationships. Is there anything that can be done to fix the problem?

Partner relationship management (PRM) systems are broken and hurting you — they're cumbersome, and only superficially address the real issue of maintaining and growing partner relationships.  Every single PRM solution on the market today is characterized by:

  • Bad partner experiences
  • Fragmented and inefficient systems
  • Poor content management
  • Solutions that are difficult to scale
  • Lack of effective measurements and metrics

It's no wonder we've come to accept missed revenue expectations as the all-too-common reality of business and channel partnerships. Is there anything that can be done to fix the problem? First, we need to understand the root of the problem.

Getting to the root of the problem

Traditional PRM served a purpose — it solved many transactional needs, such as deal registration and partner onboarding. PRM vendors typically choose to focus only on the "management" aspects of partnerships, which equates to managing transactions, not driving them. It's for this reason PRM has failed to meet the relationship needs that drive the performance of partnerships.

For example, in Forrester's 2016 assessment of top players,1 there were no vendors with best-of-breed offerings in all six of what Forrester considers a PRM's core building blocks — and not one met the expected standard for optimal user experience. This tells us that engaging partners is typically low on the PRM vendor priority list. But it shouldn't be. As Curtis Bingham, Executive Director of the Chief Customer Officer Council, states, "the partner experience is the exact same principal as the customer experience. … If there is no partner engagement, the company has limited ability to influence the customer experience at the far end."

 

Forrester research has shown that bad partner experiences negatively impact competitiveness, and fragmented and inefficient PRM systems degrade efficiency.

 

It's a no-brainer to say that delivering a world-class partner experience would drive transactional performance and increased revenue. So to fix the channel performance problem, we need to focus on the ongoing relationship with partners.

Redefining the partner experience

Let's reimagine the partner experience. What would that look like? A redefined partner experience would drive revenue and create loyalty. It would maintain and grow partner relationships, and change the way you interact with them. It would be data-driven and provide an optimal experience that fully engages your partners. This would require:

  • Building a new capability without having to rip and replace any legacy systems and that coexists with the most deployed systems of record (SOR), including Salesforce
  • Creating an experience of systems and content woven together uniquely for anyone who needs it; that would include content in all of its digital forms, as well as transactional data from systems such as Salesforce, HubSpot, and legacy PRMs
  • Providing a system of record for content and audience intelligence — and the capability to improve the relationship aspects of partnerships
  • Generating measures of partner interactions that correlate to measures of business performance and outcomes — enabling data-driven, continuous improvement

What if I told you that solution exists?

Fix your channel performance problem — today

In our latest e-book, "The Channel Performance Problem — And How to (Really) Fix It," we explain why partners fail to perform and introduce a new partner experience platform — a platform that enables you to manage the "supply and demand" of partner experience to drive revenue and create loyalty.

[Download the e-book]

Sources: 1: Forrester. The Forrester Wave™: Partner Relationship Management (PRM) Platforms, Q3 2016.

James Hodgkinson is Chief Evangelist with Webinfinity

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