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How to Choose the Best Partner Program Software: 5 Steps

Partner program software can unlock the potential within your partner network, accelerating your growth through indirect sales and better customer experiences. In our MasterClass discussion with Ryan Hasson from Spur Reply, "Mastering the PRM Experience," we dug into the important things you need to know when it comes to finding, selecting, and implementing the right partner program software.

Whether you're just building your partner program, or need to find software fast to help you manage a thriving ecosystem, we've got you covered.

👉 Keep reading to learn more about:

What is partner program software?

Partner program software, also known as partner relationship management (PRM) software or partner ecosystem software, is an essential tool for managing your partner program. This type of software can streamline and enhance the collaboration between your company and its ecosystem of partners by managing partner relationships, driving sales, and fostering faster growth together.

Some key features of partner program software include:

  • Self-service onboarding, training, and certification programs
  • Deal registration tools
  • Lead management through the sales pipeline
  • Collaboration tools
  • Partner business planning tools
  • Incentive and rewards management
  • Integrated marketing automation tools
  • In-depth partner analytics and reporting

In addition to these features, partner program software is built to automate many of your manual tasks, so you can do more with less. This software is often highly customizable, allowing your team to build the structure and processes you need. Likewise, the best partner program software tools have seamless native integrations with the rest of your tech stack, like your CRM, ERP, LMS, or account mapping tools.

How to find the right partner program software

Partner program software can automate your key processes, allowing your team to build better relationships with your partners, craft more compelling marketing campaigns, and figure out better ways to reach customers. Essentially, this type of software allows you to offload the manual tasks and focus on the strategic work that will help your partner ecosystem thrive.

Keep reading to get step-by-step advice for finding and selecting the right partner program software for you. Want to dig deeper? Watch the full webinar with Spur Reply now for our in-depth discussion!

1. Make a plan for success

When you're getting started with partner program software, it's not just about planning; it's about planning with precision. Start by looking at the various partner types and their roles in your current ecosystem. Chart your future growth as well. Are you planning on bringing on new types of partners to help with customer support? Are you planning for explosive revenue growth? Your direction will determine how you ensure the partner program software is serving your needs, today and in the future.

Do this by setting KPIs at the start that align with your company's goals and partner needs. Common KPIs for overall partner program performance include:

By setting these KPIs from the start, you'll have metrics that can provide a clear roadmap for success, allowing you to track progress and make data-driven decisions for your partner ecosystem.

✅ Discover more: Find the most important metrics to measure your partner ecosystem in our in-depth post: "20+ Channel Partner Analytics and Metrics to Track"!

2. Understand your current partner challenges

Recognizing common challenges that many organizations face when managing their partner ecosystems is a pivotal step. In our discussion with Spur Reply, we narrowed in on the most common challenges facing today's partner programs: low partner engagement, high team turnover, siloed teams, and manual processes.

Do these resonate? You'll tackle each of these in a different way, but partner program software can help. Here's how:

  • Low partner engagement: Use your partner portal to share important updates and program benefits through regular training. Implement engagement strategies like rewards or recognition programs, as well as personalized journeys so partners find the information they'll most need to succeed.
  • Manual processes: Is your team spending too much time in spreadsheets, and not enough time focusing on the tasks that matter? Automate routine tasks using partner program software to increase efficiency and responsiveness. This could involve automated reporting, onboarding journeys, deal registration, communication, tiering, and more.
  • High team turnover: Frequent changes within your team can result in a loss of institutional knowledge. Develop a robust asset library in your software with thorough documentation, as well as round-robin style support tools, to mitigate the impact of team changes.
  • Siloed teams: Lack of communication and collaboration among different departments or teams can make it difficult to grow your program. Foster inter-team communication and collaboration through integrated data tools within your partner program software. Encourage regular cross-functional meetings and shared goals.

By knowing the challenges you face and some of the specific strategies you can use to overcome them, you can improve the effectiveness of your partner program and enhance overall partner satisfaction.

3. Focus on the partner experience first

Your partners are at the heart of your ecosystem. The partner program software you choose will often be one of the primary ways they interact with your team. Similar to creating an inviting and user-friendly physical storefront, your digital platform should be intuitive, inviting, and well-designed.

When partners find the platform easy to use and tailored to their specific needs, they are more likely to invest their time and effort into the partnership. Here's how:

  • Set it up so partners can handle many tasks on their own, such as deal registration, training, applying for market development funds, and more
  • Ensure that essential tools, information, and support are readily available to partners without unnecessary hurdles
  • Customize the experience to suit different partner roles and objectives, such as personalized dashboards, relevant alerts, and targeted resources
  • Regularly seek and integrate partner feedback to continuously improve their experience
  • Offer comprehensive training and ongoing support to help partners utilize the software effectively

By focusing on these areas, you can create a more engaging and efficient environment for your partners, leading to stronger partnerships and better business outcomes.

✅ Discover more: A great partner experience can drive incredible channel success. Dive into exclusive partner experience research and actionable best practices now!

4. Prioritize automation to optimize workflows

The right automation tools empower you to strike a delicate balance between enabling partners to be self-sufficient while providing a personalized approach for your strategic partners. Partner program software can automate several key tasks for channel teams, and it's one of the most important reasons why teams invest in this software.

Look for tools that can help you automate:

  • Lead distribution and management: Automatically assigning leads to partners based on predefined criteria.
  • Performance tracking: Generate and share real-time reports on partner sales, activities, and achievements
  • Business planning: Collaborate with your partners to create, and then track shared business plans for growth
  • Content distribution: Automated sharing of marketing materials and updates
  • Training and certification management: Streamlining the delivery and tracking of partner training programs
  • Partner onboarding: Simplifying and speeding up the process of bringing new partners into your program
  • Market development funds (MDF) allocation: Manage MDF to your partners for marketing and co-op activities
  • Incentives management: Automate the calculation and distribution of partner incentives and commissions based on predefined rules and performance metrics
  • Tier progress tracking: Assign partners to appropriate incentive-based tiers based on predefined criteria such as revenue, sales targets, or certifications achieved
  • Compliance monitoring: Ensure partners adhere to your contractual agreements and compliance requirements

By automating tasks like these, you can optimize your partner program, reduce manual workload on your team, enhance partner experiences, and drive better outcomes for your channel team.

5. Find the best partner program software for your needs

To find the right partner program software, it's crucial to go beyond the surface and deeply understand your specific organizational needs. Start by assessing these areas:

  • Program readiness: Assess how prepared your organization and partners are for new software. This includes technological readiness and the willingness to adapt to new processes.
  • Vendor support: Do you have space to bring in consultants like Spur Reply to help you fine-tune your strategy and implementation?
  • Budget considerations: Determine your financial capacity for investing in partner program software. It's important to balance cost with functionality, ensuring you get value for your investment without overstretching your resources.
  • Team alignment: Ensure that the chosen software aligns well with your team's capabilities and workflows. It should complement, not complicate, your existing processes.
  • Research thoroughly: Read user reviews and analyst reports to gain insights into various software options. Look for feedback on usability, support, and the software's ability to scale with your business.
  • Match with business goals: The software should align with your long-term business objectives and be flexible enough to grow and evolve with your company.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your company's unique needs and drives your partner program towards success.

✅ Dig deeper: Our in-depth guide on PRM software covers the review sites, analysts, and other criteria you'll need to choose the best software for you.

Learn more about Impartner

At Impartner, we're committed to helping partnership leaders like you learn more about the industry so you can make decisions that drive long-term growth.

Today, millions of partners in nearly every industry across the globe access Impartner's partner management tools. We coined the term "PRM" and have been active in the channel community since the beginning. We'd love for you to take a look around at our partner program software.

Impartner is the most award-winning channel management solution provider on the market. Our partner management and partner marketing automation solutions help companies accelerate revenue and profitability through their indirect sales channels at every partner lifecycle touchpoint.

From partner training and onboarding to pipeline management and performance tracking, Impartner handles it all and more with best practices and automation built-in.

Need to accelerate your partnerships? We’re ready when you are.

About the Author

Trevor Burnett is the Head of Product Marketing at Impartner. Burnett has over 15 years of experience in the channel partnerships space. Over the years, he has built both technical and business acumen as he's done everything from building partner portals himself to strategizing how to solve partnership problems through technology with hundreds of companies.

Profile Photo of Trevor Burnett