Skip to main content





Personalized Partner Onboarding
Create automated and tailored training.

Pipeline Management
Sync deal registration and partner leads with CRM.

Certification Management
Build courses, lessons, and quizzes, code-free.

Market Development Funds
Hand requests, fulfillment, and ROI analysis.

Partner Business Planning
Share, create, and track goals together.

Tiering and Compliance
Incentivize partner performance, automate compliance management.

Reporting and Analytics
Know what drives mutual revenue.

Paid Media Marketing
Connect local partners with local leads via Google.

Impartner Marketplace
Bring “Where to Buy” to your corporate website.

Referral Automation
Effortlessly generate more leads from more types of partners.


Experts Across Industries

Cyber Security

High Tech





Are We Running the Channel on Spreadsheets? A Case for Change

Partner marketers play a critical role in managing relationships, optimizing the partner lifecycle, and driving successful channel marketing strategies. However, relying on spreadsheets and CRM solutions to manage your activities can present significant challenges.

In this article, we delve into a recent discussion between Mike Cotton EMEA Sales Director at Impartner and the UK-based partner marketing focused Coterie Community, where they explored the limitations of spreadsheets and CRM systems in channel marketing. We also outline steps to help partner marketers build the case for change, overcome these challenges, and maximize their efficiency.

The limitations of different tools in channel marketing

Finding suitable tools that meet the specific needs of partner marketing and management can be challenging. Many professionals’ resort to using spreadsheets and manual processes, resulting in time-consuming tasks such as pipeline planning, MDF spend reporting, lead assignment, and campaign management.

While spreadsheets are familiar and easy to use, they lack real-time data synchronization, automation capabilities, and advanced reporting features. This hampers the ability to track marketing campaign impact, manage market development funds (MDF), and optimize partner engagement. Spreadsheets also lead to data inconsistencies and version control issues, hampering efficiency.

Also, CRM solutions, which are designed primarily for customer relationship management and sales, often fall short in meeting the unique requirements of partner marketers. They lack specialized functionalities for partner relationship management, MDF automation, lead distribution, partner onboarding, and collaborative content management. Customizing CRM systems for channel marketing can result in compromised efficiency and additional workarounds.

Major challenges of disjointed systems

Data fragmentation across multiple systems and spreadsheets is another major challenge for partner marketers. Without a centralized platform, gaining a holistic view of partner relationships, marketing campaigns, and ROI becomes difficult. Inefficient decision-making, inadequate tracking of partner performance, and missed optimization opportunities are common outcomes.

Smooth collaboration and communication among internal teams, partners, and stakeholders are also vital for effective partner marketing. Spreadsheets and fragmented systems hinder seamless collaboration, leading to miscommunication, delayed responses, and a lack of transparency. This can result in missed deadlines, decreased partner satisfaction, and suboptimal campaign execution.

Finally, integrating various tools and systems within the tech stack presents a significant challenge. The absence of seamless integration between MDF tools, leads, deals, CRM, and other essential tools makes it difficult to track and measure the ROI of marketing activities. Partner marketers need an overarching PRM system that connects all these elements.

The need for integrated and specialized PRM solutions

To overcome these challenges, partner marketers require integrated and specialized solutions tailored explicitly for channel marketing. Partner relationship management (PRM) technology provides a comprehensive platform designed to address the complexities of managing partner relationships and optimizing the partner lifecycle.

PRM solutions offer functionalities such as:

  • MDF automation
  • Lead management
  • Performance tracking
  • Collaborative content management and co-marketing tools
  • Partner engagement tools

Making the case for a PRM solution

Demonstrating ROI is crucial for any PRM solution. However, using disparate tools and manual processes makes it challenging to prove the ROI of partner activities. Consolidating data in Excel spreadsheets can quickly become outdated and hinder agility. Justifying the investment in a comprehensive PRM system or tool can be challenging, though, especially in larger enterprise organizations.

Legacy tech stacks with incompatible tools and systems can also hinder the adoption and integration of new solutions. Data privacy concerns and limited access for channel partners further complicate the sharing of data across the organization. Overcoming these challenges requires ensuring the availability of the right tools and addressing data privacy concerns.

Seeking consolidation and simplicity

Organizations are recognizing the need to consolidate their tech stack and simplify partner management processes. A unified PRM solution that addresses MDF management, lead assignment, campaign management, and ROI reporting provides a holistic view of partner activities. Streamlining operations and enabling better decision-making are crucial outcomes of consolidating the tech stack.

Running the channel on spreadsheets presents significant challenges for partner marketers. By understanding these challenges and presenting on the points outlined above, partner marketers can highlight the limitations of spreadsheets and CRM systems and demonstrate the value of investing in integrated PRM solutions, enhancing collaboration, improving data visibility, and simplifying the tech stack. This will enable partner marketers to maximize their efficiency and importantly drive better outcomes in their channel marketing efforts.

This article was originally posted on Coterie Community.

About the Author

Mike Cotton is the EMEA Sales Director at Impartner. Mike is a veteran of the technology industry with senior leadership roles in sales, marketing, and channel. Mike has experience setting up and building a technology company from scratch developing all aspects of sales and marketing to launch and rapidly expand the business globally. Mike has always seen partnering as critical to drive rapid growth with any of the organisations he has worked with, whether this is strategic partners, dealers, resellers, distributors, MSP, technology, and referrals they all have a place in the sales ecosystem.

Profile Photo of Mike Cotton