Navigating the world of partner relationship management (PRM) software can be overwhelming, but with the right approach and some industry insights, you can find the ideal solution for your growing channel program. In this post, we're covering everything from PRM pricing models (and how to avoid unexpected add-on charges!) to the review sites and analysts you can count on. It's time to grow your partner program with the best PRM software. Let's get started!
👉 Find the best PRM software with these tips:
- Check out user reviews on sites like G2
- Leverage in-depth analyst rankings and reports
- Look for the essential features your program will need to grow
- Unify partner processes with seamless integrations
- Choose a PRM software pricing model that works for you
- Ensure the PRM software has industry-leading security
- Prioritize partner-friendly platforms
- Find tools with built-in partner marketing automation
- Check out the vendor's reputation and support
- Experience the PRM software with a demo
What is PRM software?
PRM, or partner relationship management, software is a specialized type of software that's designed to help businesses effectively manage and optimize their partnerships with channel partners, distributors, resellers, and affiliates.
End-to-end partner management streamlines the collaboration process between you and your partners by offering features such as partner onboarding, training, lead distribution, performance analytics, and marketing automation, ensuring that you can both grow faster, together.
Now, let's jump into tips on finding the best PRM software for you!
1. Check out user reviews on sites like G2
Always look first to customer reviews to find out how a PRM software has worked for partner leaders like you. The website G2 is one of the most trusted platforms for software reviews, with its number of customer reviews and depth of filtering. Here's how you can utilize G2 for your PRM software research:
- Segment by company size and industry: One of the great features of G2 is its breakdown of software reviews based on company size – from startups to global enterprises – and by industry.
- Genuine user reviews: Users across various industries share their firsthand experiences, discussing the advantages and challenges they've faced with different PRM platforms. These reviews can provide a holistic understanding of the software beyond just its features.
- Feature-specific ratings: Users can also rate specific features of a tool, allowing potential buyers to see how well a PRM software performs in the areas that matter most to them.
- Category leaders: For the best PRM software, G2 highlights the top players in each category. Looking at the ‘Leaders’ and ‘High Performers’ in the PRM section can guide you towards the most respected and effective solutions in your market.
User review sites like G2 offer a multifaceted approach to learning about software for your organization. When exploring PRM software options, leveraging the depth of insights available on G2 and other sites can ensure you're making a decision that's grounded in real-world feedback and comprehensive data.
2. Leverage in-depth analyst rankings and reports
When you're on the hunt for the best PRM software, turning to industry experts can be a game-changer. It's a way to get the in-depth information you need, without doing the research work yourself. They also inform you about market trends, emerging technologies, and future projections.
Trusted industry giants like Forrester and Gartner don't just throw around recommendations. Their meticulous research methods and evaluations result in rankings that pinpoint the best of the best. Here's some to look to in the PRM world.
- Gartner's Market Guide: This is a renowned tool that visually represents a market's direction, maturity, and participants. You'll gain insights into which solutions are considered 'Leaders', 'Challengers', 'Niche Players', or 'Visionaries' in the PRM space.
- The Forrester Wave: Forrester's Wave ranks PRM vendors on various criteria including current offering, strategy, and market presence. While this is an asset you have to pay for, when you sift through Forrester’s analysis, you're harnessing deep industry insights for your business needs.
- Canalys' Channel Ecosystem Landscape: Want to get a lay of the land to figure out which capabilities and tools exist in the marketplace? Look to Canalys' in-depth annual research report!
- Research in Action Matrix: Finally, this in-depth report RIA interviewed 1,500 marketing and business managers at global enterprises about PRM software, price/value ratio, and customer satisfaction.
Analysts' rankings can give you an unbiased, research-backed perspective. You'll navigate away from mere buzzwords from each vendor, focusing instead on proven performance and reliability. But, while these analyst reports are invaluable, they are just one piece of the puzzle. Combine their insights with your specific needs, budget, and goals to ensure you find the best PRM software for your organization.
✅ Level up: We're providing free access to the newest Forrester Wave results for PRM software here! Download your copy now to read the full version.
3. Look for the essential features your program needs
Are you just building your partner program? Do you already have a thriving ecosystem and need to scale fast? Or perhaps you want to streamline partner training and onboarding? Understanding your goals will direct your feature wishlist. When looking for the best PRM software, check that the solution is built to serve your needs now and in the future. We'll be covering many of these throughout the rest of this post, but don't neglect to look for elements like:
- Real-time reporting: Data drives decisions. Explore how each software handles analytics. Can you customize reports to align with your key performance indicators? Can you share reports and visualizations with the rest of your team? Is real-time data access available?
- Types of partners supported: If you're working with a diverse range of partners, from distributors to ISVs to resellers, ensure the PRM software provides tailored support for each type of partner in your ecosystem.
- Easy to build: A feature-rich platform is excellent, but if it's not user-friendly to set up with little to no coding needs, it will take more time than your team may have to give. Prioritize a solution that’s intuitive for both your internal team and your partners.
- Customization potential: Likewise, your business is unique, and sometimes, out-of-the-box solutions might not work. Delve into how much you can customize the platform, from dashboards to communication templates.
- Global reach: If your program spans multiple countries, look for tools with multilingual and multicurrency capabilities so you bridge geographical and cultural divides effortlessly.
- Training and onboarding tools: If partner education is a key focus for you, evaluate the software's training tools. Features like personalized training journeys or certification programs can be invaluable.
- Automation-first: Whether it's automating partner approvals, MDF, leads management, rewards distribution, or communication sequences, check if the software is built to take manual and repetitive tasks off your plate.
- Scalability: Your needs today might evolve tomorrow. Ensure that adding new features or scaling the platform won't be a herculean (or pricy!) task down the line.
In your journey to select the best PRM software, it's less about how many features a platform offers and more about how closely those features align with your needs. By reviewing this at the start, you set the stage for a PRM experience that's efficient, effective, and entirely tailored to you.
4. Unify partner processes with seamless integrations
We struck this one out separate from features, because it's so important. Whichever PRM software you choose should flawlessly integrate with your existing tech stack. Canalys called it one of the most important factors in the PRM evaluation process, noting:
"PRMs should automatically sync and update with CRM systems to make lead tracking, deal registration, opportunity management, and customer management seamless and transparent between partners and account teams."
This sentiment underscores the vital role integration plays in optimizing your partner relations and internal operations.
The beauty of seamless PRM integration is that it consolidates your data. No longer do you have to juggle between platforms to get a comprehensive view. A well-integrated PRM ensures that data flows smoothly between systems, providing you with unified insights. Also think of the countless hours saved when your PRM automatically updates leads in your CRM or reflects changes made in other systems. This level of automation, facilitated by robust integration, means less manual work for you and fewer chances of errors.
Before committing to any PRM, test its integration capabilities. Is it compatible with your existing tools? Can it adapt to future additions to your tech stack? Answering these questions will ensure you choose a PRM that aligns with your tech ecosystem.
5. Choose a PRM software pricing model that works for you
You need PRM software that's tailored to both your current needs and future goals. The right pricing structure is a blend of value and scalability. We've put together a closer look at the most common pricing models to help you find the best fit for your company. However, always ask about all potential fees or costs for plugins, integrations, or other needs.
- Per user licensing: This model charges you based on the number of users who will access the system. If you have a smaller team or fewer partners accessing the system, this model can be cost-effective. But, as your team or partner base grows, this pricing model can quickly become expensive.
- Feature-based pricing: Customize your PRM package by only selecting and paying for the features you need. This ensures you're not paying for features you don't need, but can limit what you choose and how much you can afford.
- Flat-rate pricing: A one-size-fits-all approach where you pay a single price for access, usually with a limit on features or data usage. If you have a large number of users but don't need all the bells and whistles, this could offer good value. You won't have to worry about scaling user numbers, offering predictability in costs.
- Tiered pricing: With this approach, PRM vendors offer different pricing tiers depending on your size, each packed with a specific set of features. This setup provides incredible flexibility. Start with a basic tier if you're a smaller business or just beginning your PRM journey. As your needs evolve, you can seamlessly move to a higher tier with more advanced features, without moving to another system.
In the end, PRM software is an investment in your program's future. Whether you're a startup or a large global enterprise, take the time to assess, compare, ask questions, and choose your pricing model wisely. Your future self will thank you!
6. Ensure the PRM software has industry-leading security
When evaluating PRM software, it's not just about the features and user experience; the platform's security standards play a critical role. Ensure the software has robust encryption mechanisms in place. Whether it's partner data, transaction details, or communication logs, every piece of information should be secure against breaches.
Check if the PRM software adheres to global security standards such as ISO/IEC 27001 or GDPR for European customers. Industry-leading security isn't a one-time achievement, though. The vendor should perform regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to stay ahead of potential threats.
If the software offers role-based access control, you can define who gets access to what. This ensures sensitive data is only accessible by relevant personnel, minimizing risks of internal breaches. In the unfortunate event of data loss, the PRM software should also have a robust backup and disaster recovery plan. This ensures business continuity even in unexpected situations.
7. Prioritize partner-friendly platforms
You and your team can't afford to spend countless hours navigating a complex PRM system, and neither can your partners. An intuitive, user-friendly platform makes all the difference. A user-friendly PRM ensures that you, your team, and your partners spend less time figuring out the platform and more time leveraging its benefits for growth.
- Champion a partner-first approach: Select a PRM platform that allows partners to seamlessly access resources, register deals, and collaborate on demand.
- Enhance collaboration: A user-friendly platform, designed with clarity and simplicity, promotes better communication and collaboration. When tools are easy to use, there's a more seamless exchange of information and ideas between teams and partners.
- Increase adoption rates: A solution that’s easy to navigate and understand will have higher adoption rates. If your team and partners enjoy using the platform, they're more likely to consistently engage with it, ensuring you get maximum value from your investment.
- Test drive the interface: Before making a final decision, put potential PRM platforms to the test. Engage your team and a few trusted partners in trial runs to gather feedback. This hands-on approach will offer insights into the platform's real-world intuitiveness.
The PRM software you choose will be an extension of your brand and program ethos. By prioritizing a user-friendly, partner-first platform, you’re making a statement about the value you place on your channel relationships. Remember, the easier and more delightful the experience, the stronger the partnerships and collaborations you'll forge.
8. Harness the power of built-in partner marketing automation
As you dive into your PRM software choices, you might look for one that also automates your partner marketing efforts. Enter through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) tools, built right into your PRM. Here's how these tools can revolutionize your partner marketing:
- Personalized campaigns, amplified reach: With built-in TCMA tools, you can empower your partners to launch personalized marketing campaigns. Craft the foundation, and allow your partners to add their unique touch, ensuring brand consistency while resonating with their distinct audience.
- Effortless content distribution: Feed your partners a steady stream of up-to-date, brand-approved content. Whether it's social media posts, email newsletters, or paid ads collateral, ensure your partners always have the freshest content at their fingertips.
- Real-time performance analytics: Gain immediate insights into which marketing strategies are working and which need a refresh.
- Lead management simplified: With automated lead distribution and tracking, ensure every lead is promptly addressed, enhancing conversion rates and partner satisfaction.
- MDF funds management: If you offer marketing funds to partners, an integrated tool to manage, track, and approve these funds can smoothen the process, ensuring transparency and accountability.
When your PRM software comes equipped with partner marketing automation tools, you're not just simplifying processes; you're amplifying the effectiveness of every outreach effort. Embrace a solution that's not just partner-centric but also marketing-savvy, setting you and your partners up for unparalleled reach.
9. Check out the vendor's reputation and support resources
Finally, the reputation of a PRM software vendor can be a strong indicator of the reliability and quality of their solution. Just as you looked at reviews, it's crucial to delve into the vendor's overall standing in the industry. Look at their client testimonials and successes, awards and recognitions, and client portfolio.
Longevity can also often indicate stability and experience. If the vendor has been in the PRM industry for a considerable period, it's likely they've evolved, adapted, and honed their solution over time.
Many of the best PRM software solutions are engaged in the wider channel community as well. The ongoing support, training, and resources a vendor provides plays an equally vital role in ensuring you maximize its potential. Look for those with comprehensive training and onboarding resources, as well as hands-on workshops.
Go further with industry resources and insights that help you keep up platform updates, best practices, or even broader industry trends. If they offer small local events, you'll be able to network with other users, exchange tips, and understand how others are leveraging the platform. Larger-scale channel partner events that they host can offer a deep dive into industry trends, success stories, and even one-on-one sessions with product experts.
Finally, issues can arise at any hour. Ensure your vendor offers round-the-clock technical support, so you're never left stranded. Check the mediums – be it chat support, helpline numbers, or email support – and their response time.
A successful PRM journey doesn't end with software purchase. It's an ongoing relationship between you and the vendor. By ensuring they offer rich support, training, and resources, you're setting the stage for a partnership that not only addresses challenges but also supports your growth.
10. Experience the PRM software with a demo
Reading about features or watching promotional videos gives you an overview, but engaging directly with the platform reveals its true capabilities. Just as you'd test drive a car before purchasing, diving into a demo, going through an interactive product tour, or building a proof of concept offers invaluable insights.
Beyond the demo, some vendors offer guided, interactive product tours. These walk you through key functionalities at your own pace, highlighting both major features and nuanced details. It’s like having a virtual guide showing you around, ensuring you don’t miss any vital aspects.
Encourage various team members – especially those who will use the PRM software frequently – to participate in the demo or tour. Gather their insights on usability, features, and potential challenges.
In the real-time environment of a demo or PoC, you can judge the platform's response times, loading speeds, and overall performance. This hands-on evaluation helps ensure you're investing in a solution that won’t lag or hinder operations.
The demo should be able to help you make an informed, confident decision about your PRM software. By immersing yourself in the experience, asking questions, and gathering feedback from your team members, you're taking a proactive step towards ensuring the platform you choose aligns perfectly with your goals and operational needs.
Learn more about Impartner PRM
We put together this full guide on how to find the best PRM software because we're committed to helping channel leaders like you learn more about the industry and its complexities so you can make better strategic decisions. We know the right decision can help you build a thriving partner program that accelerates revenue and fosters incredible customer experiences.
Today, millions of partners in nearly every industry across the globe access Impartner. 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 PRM software to see if it fits your needs.
Impartner is the 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 onboarding to pipeline management, resource sharing, 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.