Microsoft, Google, Apple, Atlassian all have one thing in common - they achieved rocketship scale through their integration, service and developer partner ecosystems.


Despite the huge impact Partnerships teams have in tech companies it is still rare to see a Partnerships or BD leader on the executive leadership team.



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Partner Relationship Management

The ability to rely on one’s partners is a critical part of any companies success. When companies work with partners to sell products through the various channel distributions, it’s a win-win situation, but only if everyone is on the same page. The partner relationship management strategy allows each partner to manage their leads and revenue opportunities using a system that works for all.

Partner relationship management (PRN) creates opportunities to make that happen. There are many steps to partnership relationship management, but the goal is to maintain partners better using set and reliable systems, procedures, and interactions.

Partner relationship management utilizes software and processes to streamline the business between partners who sell a company's products. A partner management strategy might involve an online system that provides tools that all partners can use to manage their leads, develop opportunities and monitor sales metrics. The PRM could also track inventory and other key aspects of the business, such as pricing and promotions.

Partners typically sell products using indirect channels such as:

  • Value-added reseller (VARs)

  • Retailers

  • Consultants

  • Managed service providers (MSPs)

  • Systems integrators (SIs)

  • Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)

  • Independent software vendors (ISVs)

With a partner relationship management system, managers of the channels are able to see all their partner sales processes at one time and minimize repetition to create a profitable relationship for all.

Companies that invest in a partner relationship management system are looking to reduce their overhead when working with partners and use automation to stabilize the processes.

A PRM system can involve unique tools as well, such as:

  • Funding programs for market development

  • Onboarding processes for training, certification, and accreditation

  • Deal registration

  • \Indirect sales reporting

  • Planning for joint business programs

  • Loyalty and reward opportunities

  • Content and education sections.

A PRM allows for data-driven decision making and better partner reporting.

Partner Management System

As more and more companies market and sell their products through channels, the need for a partner management system grows. The concept isn’t exactly new, though. Remember door to door salesmen? How about Avon or Tupperware parties? These are somewhat adequated examples of partner management systems.

Today, channel distribution occurs mostly online using a network of marketplaces and channel partners. A partner relationship management system is the glue that holds it all together. It helps you understand the mathematics, too, so you avoid over-distribution of a product. You can calculate how many partners you need for your products and help them to hit their revenue goals along with you.

Building a partnership management framework isn’t easy, but it is critical to managing your company's sales and profits and your channel partners. To make it work, you must know your partners. You must understand their business practices, figure out how they make their money, and comprehend the marketplace they use. Without that fundamental understanding of how they operate, it’s impossible to engage with them at a level that benefits your both. That is the benefit of a partner management system. It provides you with information that you can use to sustain effective partnerships.

A partnership management system also allows companies to calculate their training requirements. Onboarding is essential for new partners, but how much does it cost to train indirect sales partners? What is the time investment for new partners? Will they take that time to learn about your product or stick mostly with existing products that they know?

The partnership management system helps you to gauge your partners’ loyalty. Their ultimate commitment will always be to their customers, so the system shows you how to treat their audience with respect and over-the-top support. Channel partners have the right to expect that from you, and the partnership management system helps you figure out what they need to stay loyal.

Finally, this critical system bubbles underperformers to the top, so you can determine if the relationship is working. If your partners are not delivering, then either they need something they are not getting, or you need to part ways.

Partner Relationship Management Software

Partner relationship management is a combination of various tools designed to improve channel partnerships, and that includes vital software. Choosing the right partner relationship management software is a critical part of your strategy. What should you look for in partnership relationship management software?

Ease of use should be at the top of your list. It must be end-user friendly for both you and your partners. Ideally, the partner relationship management software will be intuitive and efficient. There should be easy access to IT supports, as well, if questions do come up.

Look for software that meets the unique needs of your business and that of your partners, as well. For example, if you use a CRM, will the software integrate with it? Your partner community salesforce is critical to channel management, but only if it works with your existing programs, whether it’s Salesforce, Hubspot, or another CRM.

Look closely at pricing to see if there is a ‘per user’ charge that might make it hard for you to expand your future partnerships. The initial pricing might seem reasonable compared to other solutions, but you’ll end up paying more in the end. Choose a PRM that offers unlimited users and a flat monthly fee.

Partner relationship management software is an investment, so you want to know how quickly you will see a return on it. Does it improve your partners’ ability to sell your product easily, for example? Ideally, it will take 12 months or less for you to see an appreciable ROI.

Finally, choose software that changes with the trends. The partner management environment is evolving, so whatever PRM software you select should be following industry trends, so you don’t have to change to keep up. For instance, do they ask for customer feedback? That would be one way to know they were interested in your needs. Are there regular product updates? That can show they are growing in the right direction.

Partnership Relationship Manager

A partnership relationship manager handles the day-to-day needs of channel partners. Channel distribution is a growing industry, so it’s critical to have a partnership relationship manager that is in tune with the changes as they occur. They work to evolve the partner relationship management strategy to ensure it stays in line with current trends.

This critical role also involves developing new partnerships as the business expands. They collaborate with the channel partners to ensure long-term success and serve as a liaise that manages the needs of both sides of the relationship.

The partnership relationship manager job description involves:

  • Being the lead point of contact for channel partners

  • Providing advice for day-to-day channel operations

  • Set-up engagement activities for partners and legal, sales, marketing, and product development

  • Communicate initiatives to internal and external partners.

  • Oversee and liaise with partners on various transactions and interactions

  • Resolve issues

  • Mentor new partners and internal employees on channel distribution

It is a critical role in the long-term development of partner relationships and other key stakeholders.

Strategic Partnership Management

A strategic partnership is one that exists between two commercial alliances and is typically formalized by a contractual arraignment. Strategic partnership management helps unlock both sides’ potential to create the most beneficial opportunities.

It aims to maintain that vital connection between partners and other stakeholders such as manufacturers. People make any business works, and healthy relationships connect these people into one cohesive group. Relationship building isn’t necessarily inherent, though. It takes work. Strategic partnership management emphasizes the importance of relationship-building not just for business growth but for accountability, incentives, and support. It allows for a deep understanding of the needs of partners.

Strategic relationship management uses short, medium, and long-term goals to enhance the partnership. The goals ensure proper governance, monitoring, and evaluation of the relationship so everyone benefits. Partnerships are not linear. They are dynamic, and managing strategic relationships allows for flexibility in those partnerships that help businesses evolve and grow.

Partnership Relationship Management Examples

Examples of partnership relationship management strategies that work are strategic alliances, channel partnership, and co-branding opportunities. Some of the most prestigious tech companies employ channel partnerships, such as:

  • Microsoft

  • VMWare

  • Oracle

  • eBay

One of the best partnership relationship management examples is Appland. In 2015, Appland was one of the most promising tech companies in Europe. They offered the ad-free subscription model for mobile phone games.

At that time, over 1.9 billion people played mobile games on their phones. Appland was a small company that needed to find a way to reach these potential customers. They created a channel partnership with telecom companies to make it happen. Their channel partners set up business deals with mobile network operators. Through subscription clubs, the partnership brought in regular revenue to both sides.

Appland worked with a partnership relationship manager who designed the channel partner program details. The goal was to give channel partners the tools they needed to help Appland deliver quality services to their customers. Today, Appland has a global partner network in over 40 countries.

Some of the partner relationship management best practices that made this work include:

  • Creating motivation for channel partners

  • Developing clear communications

  • Providing tools that helped to close deals

  • Eliminating anything that blocks the relationship

Partnership relationship management is a proven way for businesses to thrive and create a healthy channel program.

We are a Private Network for the Leaders Changing Partnerships in Tech

To be accepted, applicants must be an active partnerships executive or expert practitioner at a technology company.