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10 Partner Relationship Management Best Practices for Growth

Supercharge business growth. Accelerate your sales. Rapidly increase your brand's reach. If you're ready to achieve these goals, it's time to tap into the potential of a robust partner relationship management strategy. The power of partnerships for driving brand growth and your indirect sales can't be underestimated, but doing so requires following a few key partner relationship management best practices.

We're sharing ten best practices that can transform your partner relationship management strategy. Read on to discover how to take your partner relationships to the next level and unlock unprecedented growth.

👉 What you’ll find:

What is partner relationship management?

Partner relationship management, or PRM, is a strategic approach to managing and optimizing the relationship between your company and channel partners. More than a strategy, PRM also refers to the end-to-end software solutions that can manage every stage of your partner journey and ecosystem growth.

In general, partner relationship management employs different strategies, processes, and technology to enhance collaboration, communication, and coordination with your partners. It typically includes areas like partner recruitment, onboarding, performance tracking, and more.

The main goal of your partner relationship management strategy is to create mutually beneficial relationships that drive growth and success for both you and your partners. With partner relationship management best practices at the forefront of your strategy, you can drive increased indirect sales, better partner engagement and loyalty, and an overall stronger and more productive partner ecosystem.

🔎 Discover more: Learn about the many different types of channel partners that can power your ecosystem in our full guide!

What does partner relationship management include?

Partner relationship management will look different depending on your industry, business needs, and other factors. However, there are usually a few key components that each contribute to building engaged and productive partnerships. These include:

  • Partner recruitment: This involves identifying and recruiting the right partners who align with your business goals
  • Onboarding and training: Equip partners with the information they need to know about your products and services, as well as the tools they need to sell effectively
  • Sales and marketing support: This can include providing marketing materials, product updates, sales training, and access to sales tools within a dedicated partner portal
  • Deal registration: Empower partners as an extension of your sales team with automated deal registration tools
  • Performance management: Set up clear metrics and KPIs to evaluate and communicate partner performance, helping partners identify areas for improvement
  • Incentive programs: Create incentive programs to motivate your partners, using incentives like monetary rewards, discounts, MDFs, SPIFFs, and more
  • Communication and collaboration: Regularly check in with your partners, creating an environment where partners can easily share feedback and ideas

Finally, and most importantly, you'll manage your growing partner ecosystem with PRM software that automates and streamlines your tasks, while also providing partners with a go-to hub for training, sales enablement, marketing resources, deal registration, and more.

⭐️ Example: AvePoint grows channel revenue from 20% to 50% of business share with PRM

With a large and growing partner ecosystem, AvePoint was still managing their partners with a custom solution that didn't offer the true functionality they needed. With Impartner's PRM solution, AvePoint now has end-to-end partner lifecycle management, with customized onboarding, scalable co-branded assets, and automated pipeline management. Find out how they drove incredible channel ROI in the following video!

Partner relationship management best practices to grow your program

Your partners can become a powerful extension of your team, and their success translates into yours as well. By aligning your strategies with their needs and motivations, you'll not only foster loyalty but also create a highly-engaged partner ecosystem that adds value to your brand and provides an incredible experience for your customers.

Let's explore the partner relationship management best practices that can take your ecosystem to new heights!

1. Offer on-demand resources for training and onboarding

A successful partnership begins with effective onboarding and training. Elevate this must-have with on-demand resources that are always available to your partners.

You'll develop a comprehensive library of onboarding journeys, training materials, product information, and sales techniques. Keep the content updated and relevant to ensure your partners always have the latest information.

Offer access 24/7 through a dedicated partner portal, so your partners can access this information where and when they need it most.

2. Automate your sales pipeline for deals and leads

By automating your sales pipeline, you're not only streamlining your operations, but also equipping your partners to become a powerful extension of your internal sales team.

A PRM platform can automate your critical processes like lead distribution, deal registration, and sales tracking. This allows for a fair and transparent process that not only ensures all leads are promptly addressed, but also minimizes the risk of channel conflict with other partners or your internal sales team.

With instant access to the status of their leads and deals, your partners can also make informed decisions, adjust their approach when necessary, and seize deal opportunities as soon as they arise. This not only boosts their confidence in your partnership but also their commitment to prioritizing your products.

3. Find a solution that integrates seamlessly with your tech stack

If you're managing your partner activities in a PRM, find a solution that integrates seamlessly with your existing tech stack so you'll have a single, real-time source of truth for all your customer and partner data.

Evaluate any PRM's compatibility with your existing systems, such as CRM or marketing automation platforms. With an integrated solution, you'll have visibility into your partner ecosystem data across your organization without the manual need to upload or edit data, saving you time and reducing errors.

🔎 Explore more: Impartner's PRM solution is built to integrate seamlessly with Salesforce, HubSpot, and other leading CRMs. Learn more now!

4. Build incentives that resonate with partners

Partner engagement is the lifeblood of any successful partner program, and one of the most effective ways to encourage engagement is through well-crafted partner incentives. These are not just mere rewards but powerful tools to motivate your partners, align their goals with yours, and foster a proactive sales environment.

To build incentives that resonate with your partners, you need to understand their needs. What drives them? What do they value most? The answers to these questions should be the foundation of your incentive program. Once you've gathered this information, tailor your incentives to address these specific desires. Remember, one size doesn't fit all. The more personalized your incentives are, the more impactful they'll be.

For instance, if you're a technology company launching a new product, you might offer sales performance incentive funds (SPIFFs) to encourage partners to prioritize selling a new product. Or, if you notice that your partners value learning and development, offer incentives such as exclusive training sessions or access to industry events.

However, incentives are only as good as their accessibility. If the process of claiming them is complex and unclear, partners may lose interest or fail to see the benefits. Make sure your incentives are not just attractive, but also easy to understand and claim.

5. Motivate and engage partners with performance tracking

One of the most effective ways to inspire partner motivation is through a tiered performance structure. Establishing tiers for your partners is much like setting up a game with levels that players aspire to conquer. Each level or tier represents a set of clear milestones that your partners must achieve to move up and earn better incentives or support.

Your performance criteria can be based on many factors, such as revenue targets, number of deals closed, deal velocity, customer satisfaction scores, or even the successful completion of training modules.

As partners climb up the tiers, they can unlock benefits like increased funds, higher commission rates, additional training resources, exclusive access to marketing materials, priority support, or even special recognition within your partner ecosystem.

To keep your partners engaged and motivated, provide an automated tiering system that they can access at any time. This system should provide real-time performance metrics, giving partners an instant view of their progress and what they need to do to reach the next tier.

⭐️ Example: Mambu empowers their partner ecosystem with an automated tiering program

"We launched a tiered program earlier this year and the Program Compliance Manager module helps provide our partners complete visibility on the benefits and rewards within each tier, how they are progressing within their tier and it helps greatly with reducing administrative time.” - Anthony Moy, Partner Experience Manager at Mambu

6. Empower partners with self-service co-marketing tools

Self-service co-marketing tools can be a game-changer for your partner program. They not only facilitate independent marketing of your products by partners, but also help you maintain brand consistency and messaging.

Start by providing basic co-branding materials through your partner portal. These could include:

  • Product sheets
  • Brochures
  • Logos
  • Ad templates
  • Email templates and messaging
  • Social media kits

To take their marketing efforts to the next level, offer tools that allow them to customize these materials to reflect their co-branding. Allow partners to incorporate their branding into your ad templates or customize email campaigns with their information. These tools give your partners the flexibility to tailor marketing materials to their audiences, increasing their effectiveness and relevance.

⭐ Example: Stanley Black & Decker drives 163% increase in reseller leads

Stanley Black & Decker (SB&D) was missing their customers right where they were searching for their products most—in local Google searches. With Impartner’s Google Ads for the Channel technology, they now manage localized Google Ads campaigns for their resellers, which has led to a 163% increase in local dealers’ leads and a 49% decrease in cost per lead!

Read the full case study here.

7. Get a single view into your ecosystem analytics

A comprehensive, single view of your ecosystem analytics can provide invaluable insights into partner performance, guide your strategy, identify areas requiring improvement, and enable you to make data-driven decisions that drive growth.

Find a partner relationship management (PRM) system with strong analytics and reporting capabilities. It should aggregate data from multiple sources, present it in an easy-to-understand format, be easy to customize, and offer real-time updates so you have the latest data at your fingertips at all times.

Some critical ecosystem metrics to track include:

  • Sales revenue
  • Deal registration
  • Lead conversion rate
  • Product performance
  • Training completion rates
  • Partner consumption rates

Regularly reviewing these metrics can help you identify trends, spot potential issues, and most importantly, make data-driven decisions that lead to better performance and growth. But, this is only the start.

🔎 Discover more: Find the 20+ most important metrics to measure your partner ecosystem, and best practices to unlock the power of data-driven growth with channel partner analytics in our full guide!

8. Streamline referral and affiliate link management

Referral, affiliate, and influencer marketing have evolved beyond mere buzzwords; they're now a powerful driver of success in the B2B space. By tapping into the $21.1 billion global influencer market, your company can meet customers right where they are and create meaningful connections that lead to sustainable growth.

Now more than ever, referral management is necessary to realize the full potential of this new word-of-mouth economy. A system that can automatically track and manage your referrals and affiliate links simplifies this process. Find a system that can accurately attribute leads and sales to the correct partner to maintain trust and transparency within your partnerships.

Click below to learn how Impartner's referral management tools can empower your business in this new economy! 

9. Foster open communication channels

Set up regular check-ins through emails, video calls, or in-person meetings. These interactions should extend beyond just performance metrics and target progress, though. Encourage your partners to voice their concerns, insights into changing trends, and provide feedback during these sessions.

It's important that your partners feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, without fear of any adverse consequences. Anonymous feedback forms or regular satisfaction surveys can provide an avenue for partners to share their thoughts openly.

Proactive partner communication is another vital aspect. Don't wait for partners to reach out with issues; anticipate their needs and share valuable information timely, such as product or market trend updates. Use newsletters, webinars, partner portals, and social media to communicate.

Finally, make sure to celebrate your successes and milestones together, acknowledging your partners' efforts and their vital role in your shared growth.

10. Continually evaluate and improve your PRM strategy

Lastly, your PRM strategy should never be static. As the business environment changes, your strategy must adapt to keep up.

Today's market is seeing an influx of value-added partnerships, with resellers and distributors providing massive value to your customers with long-term support services. We're also seeing the rise of the word-of-mouth economy, as buyers want personalized recommendations for products or services to purchase. And partners increasingly want a partner-centric ecosystem that's built for their needs.

Regularly reviewing and updating your PRM strategy to align with your business goals and changing consumer and partner needs is a must. Do this by asking for partner feedback to get a trove of insights on what's working in your ecosystem and what needs fine-tuning.

Manage it all with end-to-end PRM software

The key to unlocking true business growth lies in employing these partner relationship management best practices. They can help you nurture stronger, more productive partnerships, where everyone grows faster, together.

Remember, your partners' success is your success. And there's a way to do it all—expanding growth, without expanding workloads.

Each day millions of partners in nearly every industry across the globe access Impartner. Why? Because the partner experience matters and leading channel organizations agree.

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

From partner training and certifications to communications, business planning, and performance compliance, 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

Impartner is the fastest-growing, most award-winning provider of partner management and partner marketing automation solutions. We've been around for decades, and were the first to coin the term "PRM". Today, over 40 thousand users leverage Impartner to manage their partner ecosystem with distributors, resellers, and other types of partners. We draw on decades of experience with best practices in the channel to create content that helps partnership leaders grow their careers and scale their programs.

Profile Photo of The Impartner Team