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Partner Relationship Management: The Four C's, Productivity and You

The more efficient your PRM plan is, the more efficient and productive you'll be.

Last month I discussed the importance of enablement as it relates to efficiency. This month we change gears a little to focus on Partner Relationship Management (PRM) as one of the essential cogs in becoming more efficient and productive. The interrelationships between the key areas of channel efficiency are extremely important. Utilizing PRM as the central hub allows all other systems to act in harmony with one another. Let's drill down and look at the four C's of effective PRM, and how these drive toward efficiency and productivity for you: Collaboration, Communication, Community and Cloud.

Multidirectional and Collaborative. Simply put, a good PRM system acts in the best interest of all parties and in both directions: vendor to partner and partner to vendor. By opening up all lines of communication, you're able to create an environment that's proactive and collaborative instead of one rooted in silos. In order to be truly effective, a PRM system must be extraordinarily easy to use for communication to and from the partner community. PRM systems that leverage the most popular social media tools -- or at least mimic their successful interaction models -- might get the fastest adoption among both vendor and partner stakeholders.

Communication -- Early and Often. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a vendor launch a partner program and neglect the basics of why they even have partners -- which is in order to create relationships that produce revenue for all parties. The first step in this process is communicating to the ecosystem, and most vendors forget this. A good PRM system will fundamentally make it so easy for the vendor to communicate that the partners will think they're truly part of the vendor family. Isn't this what you want? A little side benefit is that doing basic communication helps create a partner network that's loyal.

Creating a Community. PRM should allow you to create a community where partners can collaborate not only with the vendor, but among themselves. This is truly where the power of selling and leverage come into play, as it allows partners to create lasting bonds with other partners in geographies or vertical industries that they otherwise would not occupy. It's also fantastic for the vendor who receives excellent feedback on new solution bundles or selling opportunities, or receives valuable metrics on top-selling (or underperforming) products within the community. Knowing this information will allow partners to focus energies on product lines that might be receiving better attention in the market than other lines. Only a vibrant community can provide this value.

Cloud Is Where It's At. Creating a collaboratively based PRM system and focusing on the power of communities is absolutely the way to make PRM truly valuable. However, there's one more thing that must be done, and that's making sure these systems are in the cloud. Partner companies such as Cloud Strategies LLC, out of the New York metropolitan area, are going "all in" when it comes to the cloud. Therefore, anything the company does -- from selling to services to communicating -- is cloud-based. It "gets it" because it understands how to be efficient and how to deploy efficiency to its customers. However, as 2011 progresses, Cloud Strategies won't be unique, so most systems that partners such as Cloud Strategies leverage should be cloud-based. It's the old saying, "eat your own dog food." But, the bigger benefit of deploying PRM in the cloud is the efficiency factor for the vendor and the productivity factor for everyone. Vendors recognize greater efficiency because they'll save costs and be able to deploy faster.

Everyone will then be able to recognize productivity gains because of more communication and collaboration that will occur within the community. And all of this happens in a fraction of the time it traditionally would take, because these are cloud systems. The faster everyone is in harmony with one another, the faster they move toward revenue.

Next Time: Demand Generation

About the Author

Keith Lubner is Chief Business Strategist at Sales Gravy, the sales acceleration company, and managing partner of C3 Channel, a global consulting organization focused on channel strategy, design, enablement, outsourcing and training for growing companies. For more information about Keith, visit www.c3channel.com, www.channeleq.co or www.salesgravy.com.

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