April 28, 2023

6 Tips for a Flawless PRM Implementation

The Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform is one of the most important tools in a channel marketer’s strategy toolkit.
Channel Marketing

The Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform is one of the most important tools in a channel marketer’s strategy toolkit. Many marketers forget that it’s not just the PRM platform functionality that determines success—it’s the quality of implementation for your specific channel marketing needs. 

ZiftONE, one of the most popular PRM platforms available in the market, claims that their clients have seen a 47% increase in partner engagement and a 21% increase in channel sales productivity. Further, it also claims to have grown partner community growth for customers by 82% within 4 months of launch. 
In order to get best results, companies have to keep in mind the partner users, the partner onboarding experience, app ecosystem integration, data policy and compliance, and a host of other factors. 

In this blog post, the Macro team will advise you on the most important actions to take in order to ensure that your PRM strategy is a success!

1. Start planning before you buy

Whenever you buy PRM software, always conduct a thorough internal needs assessment. Also talk about the logistics of how the PRM is going to be rolled out—both internally and among the partners.

What functionalities are needed to support your channel marketing strategy? Some examples are:

  • Through-partner digital campaigns 
  • Digital asset management
  • Co-branded content / video
  • Lead management 
  • Multi-language capabilities
  • Onboarding the marketing team
  • Partner-specific experiences
  • MDF management
  • Agency-managed campaigns
  • To-partner communications
  • Learning management system
  • Marketing campaign attribution & analytics
  • Automated social selling campaigns
  • Web content syndication
  • Virtual events

Also define the logistics:

  • Who should you involve? (more on this later)
  • What other tools does it need to connect to? Who will be admin of the platform? 
  • How many users from the team will be required? What will their roles & responsibilities be? 
  • Who will need to be trained? 
  • Do their schedules align with one another? 
  • What is your implementation timeline? 
  • Are there any hard deadlines?
  • What customizations do you need the vendor to make for your organization? 
  • How will you onboard partners? 
  • How will you enable partners?

Once you’ve answered these questions, bring this up to the PRM vendor. They may have an implementation program already in place that meets your needs.Are you going to need an implementation partner or will the vendor professional services be sufficient? Often, the vendor’s professional services will be either limited to a library of videos and online resources (which aren’t great at engaging users) or expensive yet inadequate. Many times, the vendor is only going to provide a certain number of training hours for a small number of power users, and send you to customer support for the rest.   

A channel agency like Macro might be able to suggest improvements or offer advice for the implementation phase. As an implementation partner, we’ve helped other companies implement their PRMs from the ground up.

2. Form a cross-functional team of internal experts

Is your team fully staffed with both partner marketing strategists and hands on technicals? If you lack technical skill sets in digital platform administration you should strongly consider working with a partner that brings this skill set to the table.

Here’s a quick list of the people who should be involved in your PRM implementation and what they’ll do:

  • Executive Sponsor. Owns the overall program and controls the budget. Usually the VP of Partner Marketing
  • Program Lead. Manages project resources and deliverables to meet timelines. Also determines business goals and KPIs. Usually the Director of Partner Marketing
  • Channel Engagement Lead. Develops the channel engagement strategy and develops and executes to-partner communications. Also responsible for providing lists of partners. 
  • Regional Partner Marketing team. Stakeholders that will need to use the PRM for their regional partner marketing needs so their input is required
  • Partner Sales Team. Stakeholders that will need to work with the leads generated by partners. IT Lead. Provides vendor authentication and integration deliverables. 
  • Marketing Operations. Incorporates the PRM into the marketing tech stack and will be responsible for internal support after launch. 
  • Content Lead. Develops partner marketing content strategy and provides content for implementation. Also provides guidance on content configuration within PRM.

This team needs to be able to tackle multiple unknown challenges of the  implementation project: from software issues to management support and internal communications. The implementations team should have that kind of flexibility. Look for a vendor that is able to provide some technical and training resources as well.

Project Management

The team should also be coordinated by an effective project manager. The PM has to have a clear vision of the goals of the project and the intended results. Strong leadership is necessary to coordinate the efforts of different groups. If you don’t have an internal project manager look for an agency partner like Macro who can assist with this.

3. Launch (and evaluate) in stages

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Partner relationships can be rather fragile, so you should launch in phases to give you enough time to work out the kinks before introducing the platform to your key partners.

Pro Tip:The first thing you want to do is launch internally. This is your opportunity to try your new PRM and user experience in a safe environment. Stress-test the system and pay attention to any feedback you get. For example, if your test users find it difficult to navigate your portal, then chances are the partners will have similar challenges, too. Correct and adjust as necessary.

Soft Launch:

Once the internal tests have been completed, you can now bring in a select group of close partners as a pilot program. These are partners who have demonstrated great loyalty to the company and can be trusted to be supportive of the project while still providing an honest and constructive opinion. Their feedback will help guide the final state of the PRM implementation, so choose these partners wisely. 

By the time you bring the rest of the partners in, you should’ve already addressed the most critical issues discovered by the previous teams. This is where you go all-out in conducting training and onboarding, and in providing ongoing support for partners and users alike.

4. Develop and execute a clear communications plan

Put together a comprehensive, multi-channel communications plan that involves both internal teams and the stakeholders.

For internal teams, be sure to communicate the value of the PRM and set expectations as to the intended results from using the new portal and the policies dictating their use. Emphasize how important their cooperation is to the portal’s success. If need be, conduct launch webinars and hold office hours in order to get the message out, and take advantage of any executive sponsors you may have by having them send company-wide memos supporting the initiative.

For partners, the communications plan would be a bit different. Not only do you have to communicate the value of the PRM; you also have to effectively instruct the partners on how to use the portal properly. This includes how to access the portal, set up new users, and how they can navigate it to get the info they need. For best results, you should use a combination of webinars, office hours, instructional videos, and downloadable guides. You can even set up a 30/60/90 day onboarding plan, so partners know what is expected of them in terms of adoption.

Macro can help in this phase by hosting webinars, creating guided tours, and conducting live demos. We have a lot of experience in onboarding partners to PRMs and can offer our unique perspective on the process.

5. Integrate the PRM with your CRM for better lead management

If your PRM tool exists in isolation, then you’re not using it to its best advantage. A PRM platform works best when it’s integrated with other systems—especially for lead management and marketing, chief of which should be your CRM.

It’s a game-changer to have partners be able to record leads in the PRM, and then have those leads show up in the CRM for the sales team to see. It decreases the likelihood of lead cannibalization and increases the coordination between partners and sales.

Further, integrations will help you create a closed-loop report that shows partner-sourced and partner-influenced revenue, as well as show ROI and the depth of the partner pipeline—all things that help validate the existence of the partner program to internal sales managers.

6. Monitor and adapt

No matter how well you plan your PRM implementation, there is still a risk that things will go off the rails. Maybe partner adoption isn’t going as smoothly, or the system uptime isn’t as effective as expected.

Implementation teams should always be monitoring results and tracking performance numbers.
Examples of metrics to track include:

  • Number of user logins
  • Number of partners engaged in marketing activities
  • Number of leads and opportunities generated

These metrics should be closely monitored so that the teams can catch these trends as they form and take action quickly. Having hard numbers also helps justify any additional features, training, or expenditures the team will require, and helps ensure that any enhancements you introduce to the program will actually provide value to partner and employee alike. 
A channel marketing agency like Macro can help you with the ongoing management of your PRM. We can help companies roll out new features, improve user experience and portal navigation, and keep portals up to date with new campaigns, assets, and more. 

How we can help

Many companies have trusted Macro with their PRM implementation programs. Our teams of specialists are highly experienced professionals who are experts at matching an organization’s needs with the right PRM solution, and successfully rolling it out across the company and their partner network. We’re happy to help your organization get a maximum return on your PRM investment.

Why Macro?

So, are you looking for the next step up in your global operations and marketing? Consider the benefits and services offered by Macro as your global B2B digital marketing partner!

We ourselves are an organization with team members and resources from around the world; as such, we know exactly what the challenges of global marketing teams are and how to tackle them.

Through Macro, you can…

  • Grow: Increase your revenue and scale your supporting digital operations.
  • Align: Streamline the processes between your different teams and break down silos.
  • Improve your CX: Empower your customers’ experiences through the potential of the latest digital tech.
  • Optimize for Cost: Use global resources to operate with max efficiency.

Simplify and optimize your digital marketing tools. We stay on top of the latest trends and updates to help you make the most out of your stack.

Let our experts handle the ins-and-outs of your MarTech tools. Book a free consultation with us at any time (after all, we’re stationed around the world!).