CRM: Partner Relationship Management (PRM)
Partner Management processes and systems support a variety of third-party reseller business models to achieve the goal of extending the business reach to a larger customer base. Business models range from very simple (lead generation or customer referral, for example) to extremely complex (where a partner would have access to register new customers and maintain 100% of the ongoing relationship without intervention from the parent entity).
A robust PRM solution can enable the partner to move through the monetization ecosystem seamlessly to capture leads and opportunities, quote, process orders and even manage renewals. Some PRM systems allow an additional level of capability to manage various aspects of customer service regarding the product being sold.
Partner channel business models that allow partners access to register and manage an ongoing customer base must have some level of system access to achieve this goal. In many cases these are somewhat restricted systems from the core selling business and should offer analytics suites for the partner to sufficiently report on their performance, as well as an overarching analytics suite that allows the parent entity to ensure system security, prevent fraudulent activity, and monitor the performance of the overall partner landscape in comparison to their core business and provide sufficient data to understand the overall business and drive future business decisions.
Additional comparisons can be made to the core business, comparisons between partners, and the success of the various products or services being sold by each partner. This data can provide insight for product development, marketing, and business intelligence for future business decisions.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is perhaps the most consistently misused term in our industry. The customer relationship that is being managed by the software category is an exceedingly broad term that must be narrowed to make sure we are comparing similar software. ATG breaks CRM into four distinct categories, based on the channel that is being used to manage the customer relationship.
Sales Force Automation (SFA)
Partner Relationship Management (PRM)
Partner Management Components
The sales process in Partner Channel generally fits into one of the following scenarios:
If systems are shared between the parent entity and the partner, leads may reside in the same source system and be assigned to a specific partner or the parent company depending on how the lead was generated or based on other factors such as customer geography.
In many cases, the partner channel may have their own sales support systems that live outside the purview of the parent entity and may only be visible to the parent entity after the order is placed.
Managing sales opportunities in a Partner Management business model can vary depending on the business model and the relationship between the customer, the partner, and the parent entity.
Below are some common scenarios for opportunity management and generation:
Handling complex selling environments with complex quoting needs require systems that can support a complex structure. The more complex the quoting system is required to be, the more likely a quoting systems will be maintained by the parent entity, where the partner is given access to the system in order to manage the quoting process.
If the partner is managing the order process, there must be sufficient system access for this process to be initiated with as little friction as possible, while also ensuring sufficient system access controls are in place to ensure the order meets the defined business rules for selling services. Ensuring the business rules are satisfied is generally handled by the configuration and access of various systems, though may also include manual review of orders being processed for verification of the ordering process prior to the provisioning of the service to the end-customer.
Cases are created when an action is needed based on an end-customer or lead-initiated interaction. Cases can be created from very early in the sales process to indicate sales leads or other sales-related processes. They can also be created to support ongoing customer support related inquiries. Case management is the aggregate of these cases, typically segregated by customer.
Depending on the specific business model, supporting system’s capability, and the relationship between the customer, the partner, and the legal entity, cases created on behalf of end-customers could be worked through by either the partner or the parent entity. Based on the structure, the case was created, cases may only be visible and in the queue of either the partner of the parent entity, in a shared queue that could change hands throughout the lifecycle of the case, or could be routed based on predefined criteria.
When customers are registered through a partner channel, the customer service will be driven based on the business model and relationship between the end-customer, partner, and the parent entity.
Below are some common scenarios of customer service models when a partner sells the service to the end customer:The customer must contact the partner for all customer service. The customer may not know the parent entity exists or relationship is such that the end-customer will only deal with one person throughout their entire lifecycle. These high-touch business models are usually B2B low-volume, high-revenue environments.[/icon_list_item] [/icon_list]
Sales and marketing efforts in a partner channel can vary depending on the business model and the partner structure.
Below are some common scenarios:
The parent entity provides 100% of the marketing effort in a business-as-usual manner without any specific reference to the partner. The partner will naturally receive leads from this process.
The parent entity provides 100% of the marketing effort in a business-as-usual manner and the partner will naturally receive leads from this process.
The parent entity may be very brand conscious and require the partner only use the parent entity marketing collateral for all customer communication. In this case, the contact information may include partner information, but the message and experience from the marketing campaign will be consistent.
The partner drives 100% of their own marketing campaign efforts with their own collateral. Depending on the business model, there is a possibility that the parent entity may provide access to content that can be used in the partner collateral.
When a customer is approaching the end of their contract and due for a renewal, the partner must be actively engaged to ensure the customer is retained while also attempting to increase the revenue from this particular customer to drive up Customer Lifetime Value (LTV).
Below are some possible renewal scenarios present in a Partner Management landscape:
The partner has 100% ownership over the renewal effort and the parent entity may or may not have any marketing communication with the customer.
The parent entity has 100% ownership over the renewal effort and there may or may not be any financial commission passed on to the original partner who registered the initial customer.
The customer may be available for either the partner or the parent entity for renewal. There may be additional rules on timing of customer engagement that the parent entity will follow prior to actively pursuing the lead.
People, Process, and Technology of CRM: PRM
Seven of the 10 orgs within most B2B companies have a hand in the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) domain.
FINANCE - Billing
ATG maintains a set of more than 100 key business processes to support the management of Customers and Revenue for Service Providers. Thirty-one of these processes originate or are impacted by the Partner Management domain. Below are the key processes that are touched in PRM, categorized by the Organizational Unit that owns the process:
External/Partner Transaction Management
Management and integration of any of third-party resellers/partner, or large enterprise customer, transactions that including selling, billing & collections, and account management.
Prioritizing, tracking, and managing of sales opportunities.
Partner Ecosystem Management
Overall category for Management and integration of any of third-party resellers, partner, or add-on marketplace business models and oversight.
Quote - Product Configuration
Configuration of features and attributes of products and services prior to a sale. Typical in a custom solution environment.
Order Entry - Partners
Creating a new service for a customer that is originated via a Partner Channel, including capturing the necessary information to provision and bill for the service effectively.
Methods used to renew a customer's services, may be manual or automated. This could apply to the renewal of maintenance and support for Perpetual products, or renewal of a subscription term for Cloud products.
Bundled Product Introduction Process
Configuring and introduction of a bundled product or service to the product catalog and supporting systems. Includes definition of product/bundle attributes, pricing rules (usage, recurring, non-recurring), discounts rules, product/service lifecycle, revenue recognition, and reporting attributes.
New Pricing Introduction - Existing Construct
This process is for creation of a new pricing rate for an existing construct. For example, creation of a $24.95/mo. plan for a geography that previously had been at $27.95/mo.
New Pricing Introduction - New Construct
This process is for creation of a new pricing construct for an existing product or service. For example, creation of a monthly subscription where previously there had only been annual.
New Product Introduction Process
Introduction of a new product or service to the Product Catalog and supporting quoting, ordering, contracting, provisioning, ticketing, invoicing, payment, usage, and revenue recognition systems. Includes definition of product attributes, pricing rules(usage, recurring, non-recurring), discounts rules, product/service lifecycle, revenue recognition, reporting attributes, and bundling concepts.
New Product Introduction Process - Mobile
Configure attributes and introduce new products and services, with specific focus on making the product available on mobile devices.
Promotion & Discount Introduction
The configuration of standard, pre-defined promotions and discounts of products or services.
Configuration and management of trial products that do not bill at all during an agreed-upon time frame, or under a certain set of use restrictions. Includes processes for provisioning and reporting.
Inventory Management - Logical
The process a company uses to manage the consumption of non-physical asset inventory levels including inventory creation and deletion.
Inventory Management - Physical
The process a company uses to manage the consumption and replenishment of tangible inventory levels.
Quote - Product / Service Approval
Configuration of required approvals for products, services, discounts, and pricing configurations prior to the sale.
Service Provisioning / Activation
The process of activating or de-activating a service or product for a particular customer.
The process of managing lead that have been generated and nurturing into new customers, or up/cross-sold existing customers.
Cross-Training of Monetization Ecosystem Components
Process for training organizational resources
Data Stewardship Across Monetization Ecosystem
Process of assigning ownership and sources of truth for data within the organization.
Maintenance & Oversight of Monetization Ecosystem
Process around assuring that all touchpoints and connections in the ecosystem are optimized and working to their full potential.
Monitoring & Testing of Vendor Functional Releases
As ecosystem components release updates and patches, each is checked and tested to confirm all systems are working together as required by the business' requirements.
Security Oversight of Monetization Ecosystem
Process for maintaining and controlling access and permission to ecosystem components.
Vendor Management of the Monetization Ecosystem
Management of ecosystem component vendors including proactive communication of changes and general relationship nurturing.
Invoice Finishing & Delivery
Typically, billing engines produce raw invoice or statement data. Often, external applications are used to package this data for presentation on a paper invoice, electronic distribution, or alternate media. Most billing engines have rudimentary invoice presentation capability.
The steps taken to process different payment methods from customers.
The ability to provide proof of internal controls to prevent fraud and material misstatements.
The processes a company uses to manage complex customer subscription attributes, including recurring billing, IN Proration (service sign up), OUT Proration (service disconnect/cancel), and associated usage, recurring, and non-recurring processing.
Provides assurance that source system data is accurate, and a paper trail exists from a transaction to financial statements.
The ability of a business to identify, create, and distribute information quickly across their customer base, organizations responsible for managing customers, and other key areas of the organization.
Daily, Periodic, or Ad Hoc Reporting (ETL, Report, Dashboard)
Movement of data between domains to create a single source of truth for reporting and dashboarding. Includes key metrics such as revenue analytics and other KPIs
When a company has focus on the partner channel as a key contributor of revenue and customers, often partner relationship software is used. Sometimes, companies will just extend their CRM functionality to include partner activity, but work-arounds are typically required.
Key Partner Management Vendors
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Public
Delivery Method: Cloud
Salesforce Communities is powered by advanced online community software that allows businesses of all sizes to connect to partners, customers, employees, and business processes. The Community Cloud is built on the Salesforce platform, so any third party system or data can connect directly with Communities.
Communities allows businesses to:
- Build communities to gain deeper relationships with customers or provide better service by enabling customers to find information and assist each other online
- Connect external channel partners, agents, or brokers to reduce friction and accelerate deals
- Empower employees to connect and collaborate wherever business takes them
Salesforce Communities markets toward companies of any size that have a strong need for customer, partner, and employee engagement. Businesses that rely on dynamic customer relationships benefit most from Communities’ ability to connect directly with resellers, distributors, and partners to increase sales.
- Health Leads
- Brown-Forman Construction
- GE Capital
HQ: South Jordan, UT
Company Type: Privately held
Delivery Method: Cloud
Impartner, formerly known as TreeHouse Interactive, specializes in SaaS-based Partner Relationship Management (PRM) and Marketing Automation Platform solutions. Impartner has been profitable every quarter since its founding in 1997 because of their focus on multi-tiered PRM solutions supported by turnkey on boarding.
Impartner’s PRM solutions delivers functionality in several areas:
- Partner Management and Onboarding
- Deal Registration
- Lead Distribution
- Market Development Funds (MDF)
- Co-Branded Marketing
Impartner tends to target high tech, data storage, and cloud-based companies that range from small and mid-sized businesses to global enterprises.
- National Instruments
HQ: Phoenix, AZ
Company Type: Privately Held
Delivery Method: Cloud
Allbound has three core products: Channel Sales, Channel Marketing, and Partner Experience Automation. These three core products are supported by automated features specific to PRM such as Co-Branding tools, Content Management Tools, Deal Registration, Integrations, Partner Portals, and Partner Journey Automation. Allbound has the power to eliminate mundane manual tasks, uniform partner processes, and lay foundations for scalable growth.
- Partner Journey Automation
- Content Management Tool
- Channel Marketing
Allbound targets organizations of many sizes that want to scale their partner programs.
- Cambium Networks
HQ: Jersey City, NJ
Company Type: Privately held
Delivery Method: Cloud
Zift Solutions has grown from a channel marketing software start-up to a global organization focused entirely on channel success. In working with thousands of the world’s leading companies selling through indirect channels, Zift Solutions saw the need to move beyond siloed solutions by providing powerful channel-focused technology and continuing to deliver the most comprehensive cloud-based solutions for channel marketing, sales, and operations.
In 2017, Zift Solutions acquired Relayware, a B2B SaaS PRM solution provider.
- Partner System of Record
- Enterprise Integration
- Content Management System
- Business Intelligence
- Business Rules Engine
- Multi-Channel Communications
Zift Solutions targets companies of all sizes and in any industry that are looking for cloud-based Partnering Automation (PA) and Partner Relationship Management (PRM) solutions.
- Kaspersky Lab
- Adaptive Insights
ATG offers a full range of Quote to Cash vision and strategy solutions to help mid- and large enterprise clients compete in today’s rapidly evolving service industries. We have the experience and the know-how to help guide your company through the important decisions required to stay competitive in today’s business landscape.
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The most powerful Salesforce productivity tool you'll ever use. FuseKit™ is a cloud-based toolkit that saves you hours on Salesforce configuration, development, deployments, and data migrations.
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Revenue Blueprint is an ATG Cognizant offering that pairs purpose-built IP, accelerators, and integrations with world-class consulting to expedite outcomes for clients using Salesforce Revenue Cloud.
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ATG is proud to partner with our parent company Cognizant and the University of Montana to continue their Aim Higher program in various population centers across the United States.
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