Partner Relationship Management (PRM) is an essential element of every successful partner program. It enables businesses to onboard, track, and manage their partner ecosystem efficiently. However, despite its significance, the overall adoption of PRMs across the industry currently stands at approximately 18%, as reported by channel analyst company Canalys.
When investing in a PRM solution, it is crucial to maximize its potential by focusing on increasing the adoption rate. Fortunately, there are several simple strategies you can implement today to drive PRM adoption and engage partner sales teams more effectively.
Whether you are just starting your partner program or struggling with low adoption rates, this blog post will provide valuable insights to help you enhance PRM adoption and unlock the full benefits of your partner program.
What do we mean by adoption?
Before delving into strategies for increasing adoption within your PRM (Partner Relationship Management), it is important to establish a clear understanding of what we mean by adoption.
User adoption can be broadly defined as the extent to which users frequently utilize the product features that are most relevant to their specific use case. In the context of PRM, this concept relates to the frequency with which your key users, typically your partner sales teams, engage with essential features of your platform. These features include training and enablement resources, as well as other vital components such as marketing collateral.
To determine the current adoption rate of your PRM, it is necessary to examine the partners you have invited to participate in the program. Evaluate how many members of their sales teams have logged into the PRM platform and take note of the actions they are performing within it. It is important to note that adoption goes beyond simple logins; it encompasses proactive engagement and positive actions within the platform, as indicated by the factors mentioned earlier.
Adoption goes beyond simple logins; it encompasses proactive engagement and positive actions within the platform.
Who do we want to adopt your PRM?
When working with a partner, there are several individuals who play a crucial role. Identifying and encouraging the right people to engage with your PRM and adopt its core features is of great importance.
The first person to focus on for successful adoption of your PRM is your partner counterpart. This individual holds a critical role as they are typically responsible for introducing the new partnership internally. They provide instructions on how to log deals, where to access information about your product, and guide discussions about it with customers.
The second vital group is your partner sales team. They are primarily tasked with promoting your solution to their customer base. To effectively fulfill this role, they need comprehensive knowledge about your solution's benefits and how to position it during sales calls. Your PRM serves as a repository for this essential information, making it crucial to get the partner sales team on board to explore your training resources and become familiar with the platform.
In addition to these key roles, there are other individuals worth considering from an adoption standpoint.
Marketing personnel should interact with your co-branded collateral to effectively promote your solution. Partner sales enablement managers also play a significant role as they are responsible for enhancing sales teams' skills and driving increased sales. They are often involved in ensuring that partner sales teams are well-informed about new partner solutions and equipped to sell them effectively.
With that out of the way, it's now time to share with you our 5 strategies to increase PRM adoption across the board.
Step 1: Provide extensive training and onboarding
Consider the last time you acquired new software. It's likely that there was some form of training and onboarding provided to help you become familiar with the solution you purchased. The same principle applies to getting people to embrace your Partner Relationship Management (PRM) system.
Simply sending login details to your partner counterparts and their sales teams will lead to low adoption of your PRM because they won't know how to utilize the tool effectively. To ensure a seamless and clear experience, you must offer a certain level of guidance and support, clarifying the expectations for PRM users.
There are two approaches you can take to achieve this.
The first option is to provide personalized onboarding for your partners, where you spend 30-60 minutes guiding them through the PRM tool and its various components. This method is effective for quickly familiarizing people with the system, but it requires dedicated resources and time to execute successfully.
A more suitable choice for leaner programs is to implement a scalable onboarding program using recorded videos. By creating videos that cover the main features of the PRM, you can incorporate them into the platform as a welcome video. Partners and their sales teams can then access and learn from these videos at their own pace.
For most partner programs, the ideal onboarding strategy for PRM involves a hybrid approach. Larger or strategic partners receive the white glove experience with personalized onboarding, while smaller partners are offered a more scalable and self-service option.
In addition, it's advisable to schedule periodic retraining sessions if there are major changes to the platform. Furthermore, provide an easy way to onboard new members of partner sales teams, which can be another use case for the scalable video training option mentioned earlier.
An ideal onboarding strategy for PRM involves a hybrid approach – Larger or strategic partners receive the white glove experience with personalized onboarding, while smaller partners are offered a more scalable and self-service option.
Step 2: Customize your PRM
Partner sales teams have a lot on their plate. They're not only selling their own solution but also juggling other partners' solutions. This often means dealing with multiple portals, causing frustration and consuming valuable time. One way to hinder adoption is by providing a generic "one size fits all" portal that fails to consider the unique needs of each partner.
To ensure the best possible experience and encourage deeper engagement with your portal, it's essential to create a customized experience tailored to each partner and their sales team based on their partner type. Solutions like Pronto make this customization process easier.
You can onboard partners using templates that align with their partner type, granting them a personalized experience within your portal that caters to their specific interests.
Customization within your Partner Relationship Management (PRM) system to increase adoption can include partner-specific training. For instance, resell partners may be more interested in sales strategies and product positioning, while technology partners may focus on understanding how your solutions work together and customer case studies.
By segmenting partners based on various factors, you can build an experience within your PRM that maximizes relevance and leads to higher adoption rates of your tool.
To ensure the best possible experience and encourage deeper engagement with your portal, it's essential to create a customized experience tailored to each partner and their sales team based on their partner type.
Step 3: Communication
Effective communication plays a vital role in driving engagement with your Partner Relationship Management (PRM) system. The communication process begins when you sign and recruit your partners.
A valuable strategy is to establish a process where the designated person responsible for the partner adds them automatically to your PRM solution. Using tools like Pronto, this action can trigger a welcome email to the relevant partner contacts. However, communication shouldn't stop there. Partners and their sales teams often have busy inboxes and may overlook automated messages.
To ensure their onboarding success, it's beneficial to include an onboarding "pack" as part of their journey. This pack should outline the necessary steps for them to get up to speed with your PRM, including instructions to log in. If you notice low sign-ups and logins from your partners, the next step in your communication plan should be a follow-up email to reinforce the importance of logging into the PRM.
In cases where overall adoption is lacking, consider arranging a session with the team to facilitate their login and usage of the tool. By implementing a communication schedule spanning several weeks and incorporating various calls to action, you can effectively engage the sales team and encourage more of them to join the platform beyond relying solely on automated communications from the PRM.
Furthermore, PRM solutions like Pronto offer enhanced convenience by integrating with the tools already in your sales teams' daily workflow, such as CRM and instant messaging. With Pronto, you can soon embed the PRM as a widget in their CRM system or access it through instant messaging platforms. This seamless integration makes it effortless for sales teams to access the PRM and facilitates smoother adoption.
To ensure partner onboarding success, it's beneficial to include an “Onboarding pack" as part of your partner journey. This onboarding pack should outline the necessary steps for partners to get up to speed with your PRM.
Step 4: Regularly seek feedback
Partners' continued usage of your PRM depends on the value they derive from it. That's a fact. To ensure you provide the best possible experience, collecting feedback becomes imperative. There are several ways to gather feedback.
Firstly, include PRM adoption as a discussion point during regular cadences and business reviews (QBRs). During these conversations, ask your partner counterpart about their experience with your PRM platform and encourage them to share feedback from their internal team members. Actively listen and be prepared to take their feedback onboard and act upon it.
Another effective method is to incorporate surveys into your regular partner communications, such as partner newsletters or emails. These surveys can ask partners to rank your PRM based on usability and other relevant factors.
Equally important is the process of implementing changes to your PRM based on the feedback received. Consolidate the feedback into a centralized document that can be shared with your PRM vendor and internal teams. This collaborative effort will help enhance your PRM to a point where it is universally appreciated by all partners.
Being receptive to feedback and taking prompt action based on it will further increase overall adoption of your PRM.
Collecting feedback on your PRM from partners is imperative to increase adoption of your PRM system. Discuss it with your partners during business reviews, incorporate surveys into your partner communications, and implement changes to your PRM based on the feedback received.
Step 5: Incentivize
Have you ever come across the saying, "Sales teams are coin operated"? This phrase highlights the fact that sales professionals are highly motivated by monetary incentives to perform at their best. With this in mind, implementing incentives can be an effective strategy to increase the adoption of your PRM.
While it may initially seem counterintuitive to pay people to use a solution for which you are already investing, this approach can yield significant results. This is especially true for larger-scale and strategic partners, as PRMs serve as the repository for valuable enablement resources, marketing materials, and, importantly, lead registration.
By introducing a SPIFF (Sales Performance Incentive Fund) program with newly onboarded partners, wherein you provide lunch for the team upon successful completion of specific actions (e.g., logging in and downloading collateral), you can encourage positive behaviors and cultivate familiarity with the PRM platform. This, in turn, establishes a foundation for increased adoption and engagement with the platform going forward.
By leveraging incentives strategically, you can tap into the innate motivation of sales teams and drive the desired behaviors that lead to enhanced PRM adoption.
Leveraging partner incentives strategically and tap into the innate motivation of partner sales teams to drive the desired behaviors that lead to enhanced PRM adoption.
Bonus tip: Change PRM
Surprised you, didn't I?
Throughout this article, we have explored specific tactics to optimize the utilization of your current PRM solution. However, there may be instances where the adoption rate falls short of expectations, leading to the realization that your current PRM might not be the right fit. In fact, many modern PRM solutions often fall short in crucial areas, such as lacking essential features and being difficult to navigate. If your PRM's functionality hinders user engagement, it might be time to consider a change.
Fortunately, contemporary PRM platforms like Pronto are designed to bridge the gaps left by traditional PRMs, offering an intuitive user experience for both your partners and their sales teams. Pronto not only integrates with popular instant messaging tools and CRMs, but it also provides the flexibility to customize partner portals, tailoring the experience to each partner's specific needs.
By adopting Pronto, you can address the challenges associated with poor adoption rates, providing a seamless and user-friendly PRM solution for your partner ecosystem. With enhanced functionality and a personalized experience, Pronto can help drive higher adoption rates and maximize the potential of your partner program.
In conclusion, PRMs remain a vital component of any thriving partner program. If you find yourself facing low adoption rates, there are several effective tactics you can employ to increase overall engagement.
Start by enhancing your upfront training and onboarding processes, ensuring partners receive the necessary knowledge and guidance to effectively use the PRM. Additionally, consider customizing the experience for each partner type, tailoring the platform to meet their specific needs and preferences.
Remember, poor PRM adoption can severely impact your partner program, hindering access to crucial resources such as training and enablement content. This ultimately leads to unprepared partners and their sales teams, resulting in missed sales opportunities.
If you're seeking a PRM solution that prioritizes adoption, we recommend exploring Pronto. With Pronto's modern PRM platform, we prioritize the partner experience, making it seamless and effortless to access and utilize the PRM within the flow of work.
To learn more about Pronto, we invite you to book a demo. For additional partnership insights and content, be sure to visit our blog.
By implementing these strategies and considering a PRM solution like Pronto, you can drive higher adoption rates and maximize the success of your partner program.