SaaS startups can gain tremendous benefit from forming relationships with other companies in their industries. These relationships might look like strategic alliances, channel partnerships, co-branding partnerships, or some other Doing so formalized partner program. Healthy partnerships, whether big or small, can be an essential part of your startup’s marketing efforts and have the potential to add value to both your company and your partners. In order to curate mutually beneficial partnerships that are not only successful but also sustainable, companies need a system of strategies and methodologies to create, manage, and maintain these relationships effectively.
What is partner relationship management (PRM)?
Partner relationship management (PRM) is a set of software and strategies that companies use to enable smooth business relationships with those they partner with on marketing and those that sell their products. PRM can range from simple approaches for managing co-marketing relationships to complex programs involving sophisticated software and data-management.
What is a partner program?
Partner programs can have a range of formats and purposes depending on your type of business and your goals for partnering with other companies.
In many cases, partners sell your product or service in exchange for a commission or credit. Another option is for partners to refer leads to you in exchange for a commission or credit. Other types of partnerships are focused more on marketing; your company might team up with another company to do content creation, webinars, guest blogging, or other marketing activities. These efforts should be mutually beneficial for both partners.
Fast-growing SaaS companies embrace partner relationships as a way to seek new and innovative opportunities to gain traction in the marketplace. Partner relationship management can help your company reach new customers, scale quickly, and execute new marketing ideas and options that otherwise might not be available. It’s important to be selective in choosing partners, working only with companies whose goals, values, stage of development, and product offerings match up with or complement your own.
Partner relationship management best practices
Effective PRM starts with building mutual trust. Collaboration with partners requires clear expectations and frequent communication. It’s essential that you discuss how all of this will occur at the beginning of the relationship so everyone understands the goals, knows how to judge progress, and is ready to be successful in communicating and information-sharing.
When working with partners, it’s important to:
Set out expectations in writing
Establish target goals and determine how to measure progress
Agree on methods of communication
Lay out processes for keeping information up-to-date
Familiarize all stakeholders with any PRM software being used.
Partner relationship management is a broad concept that encompasses all aspects of how you manage your relationships with your partners. If you have a partner program of any real size or complexity, this is likely to include some PRM software to help you manage your processes most effectively.
According to Forrester, the PRM software market is surging: 23 vendors with some amount of PRM functionality are responsible for $350 million in annual software revenue, a figure that is likely to grow to $679 million by 2023. If you count both PRM software and PRM service provision, the market totals $850 million today and is likely to grow to $1.65 billion by 2023.
What you can expect from PRM software
PRM software is usually cloud-based and can include a variety of tools and options, such as methods of tracking leads, revenue, metrics, inventory, pricing, discounting, promotions, lead distribution, deal registration, marketing development, and operations.
This type of software will usually have a partner portal to enable communication and data exchange, a customer database for information management, features to control access, a dashboard to monitor results and KPIs, and the ability to integrate with other business tools for managing contracts, work time, content, scheduling, and expenses.
How to choose the best PRM software
Similar to customer relationship management (CRM) software like Salesforce, Zoho, and Hubspot, there are a variety of PRM software solutions to choose from. Some of the more widely trusted PRM software options include:
When it comes to choosing the best PRM software for your company, there are a number of factors that might affect your decision, which is why thoroughly assessing the specific needs of your company, appropriately prioritizing those needs, and researching your options will always be the best course of action.
The PRM software you choose should reflect a variety of considerations like industry, budget, onboarding requirements, features, integrations, and even the specific partnership strategies you choose to pursue. For example, If you’re already using Salesforce CRM software, choosing their PRM software might make the most sense for your company if creating a seamless integration and streamlining the user experience between both solutions is a priority.
On the other hand, the SaaS industry is unique in a lot of ways and as a startup you might be looking for a PRM software solution with a solid industry-wide reputation. Luckily, there are a couple industry leaders in the PRM space for SaaS companies, both of which boast impressive customer portfolios. For instance PartnerStack is the PRM software choice for a number of major SaaS solutions including Intuit, Asana, Unbounce, Drip, monday.com, Freshworks and Evernote. Another SaaS industry favorite is Allbound, the PRM solution for companies like Zoom, WP Engine, DigitalOcean, Optimizely, Uberflip, and more.
Selecting a PRM software is an important decision and a significant investment you shouldn’t take lightly. With the proper considerations, you should be able to narrow down your selection to a short list of options that best fit your needs. From there, simply follow up with your top choices to schedule a demo and see the software in action. Use that time to ask questions and make sure you have all the necessary information you need to make a well informed decision, and choose the best PRM software for your company.
Don’t get left behind
Partner relationship management is rapidly becoming more automated and customized, with increasing options for business intelligence, personalization, and template-based workflows. Companies that use such tools are able to jump out ahead of those who do things manually; the technology for PRM allows the institution of consistent, productive relationships with multiple partners and the ongoing smooth management of those partnerships.
Over the next decade those brands that have strong partner programs will be able to identify a greater number of routes-to-market as they innovate in the methods of finding and engaging new customers.
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