The adoption of Channel Management and Partner Relationship Management solutions for organizations going to market through partners is continuing to rise; with some analyst reports showing that by 2025 nearly 75% of all B2B organizations will have adopted a technology to automate some aspect of their channel program. The level at which automation is deployed will vary, and the features organizations deploy out to vendors will also vary based upon the maturity of the organization and the partner ecosystem.
Channel Management solutions can handle the entire lifecycle of partnerships, from recruitment to revenue, and all the necessary steps in between. Some solutions focus on specific target areas, opting for more of a “layer in the technology stack” approach where the tool needs to be integrated into something else; while others offer comprehensive solutions and modularize the features based upon what is needed, and when.
Over the past couple of years, the proliferation of modern technology vendors bringing tools targeted at channel programs has exploded. New vendors seem to emerge on a quarterly basis as startups look to gain traction in a growing market, and existing companies look for ways to expand their user base and grow their revenue within established customers.
The trouble then becomes sifting through the noise and making sure your organization is choosing a solution that delivers on the solutions you need today but also can scale with you both from an architecture standpoint, but also with the functionality you need tomorrow.
We have put together a couple of tips and tricks to help you begin thinking through finding the solution to help your channel go to the next level.
1. Partner types:
The types of partners you are going to market with should help to define the software solution you use to support your channel program. Affiliates, resellers, referrals, solution integrators, technology partners, alliance partners, distributors… the list goes on. The solution needed to support affiliate partners is going to be quite different than the solution needed to support a multi-tier model that includes distributors and resellers.
2. CRM integration:
Just because integration into your CRM is listed on the vendor’s website, does not mean it integrates well. Is it brittle, and susceptible to breaking when fields are changed? Does it interfere with how other partners of your organization are using things like the Lead object? Does it impact your API calls daily, or to counteract that you are limited to synchronizes every ten minutes, or twelve hours? These are all things to consider when evaluating the Channel Management Solutions for your company as it relates to and integrates into your existing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution.
3. Stage of your channel partner program:
This is the most important thing to consider. The reality is most organizations trying to bring a channel partner program to market will fail. Specifically, venture-backed companies trying to hit growth targets will look to grow through an indirect model but lack the patience and product maturity to take advantage of a channel model. Successful channel leaders know it takes nine to twelve months for a channel to really start to come to life, can your organization support a nine-month investment before a return is recognized?
That being said, if your organization has 50 partners or less a simple partner portal with a basic deal registration process will suffice in supporting your program. As it grows into the triple digits, elements such as partner enablement, cobranding, and lead distribution come into play. As your program matures beyond that, through partner marketing, layers of distribution and renewals handled by partners are all new reality. Be honest about the level of investment, the resource lift, and the stage of where your channel program is when thinking about an investment in channel management solutions.
Request a demo today to explore how Vartopia helps organizations at all levels go to market through all types of partners.