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Why an Early Investment in a PRM Solution Will Accelerate Company Growth

“Getting partners ramped to profitability is key – and sales enablement is critical to Smartsheet’s ability to do that.”

Smartsheet explains why an early investment in PRM is a critical channel scale pedal

When it comes to scaling a channel program – and doing it faster than the competition – many ask: “When is the time to switch from a non-automated tracking tool to a fully powered Partner Relationship Management solution to manage my channel?”

For Smartsheet, a leading cloud-based platform for work execution that empowers organizations to plan, capture, track, automate, and report on work at scale, which now has 80,000 customers in 190 countries and a growth rate of more than 50 percent a year – the answer was sooner rather than later.

In a case study presentation at Impartner’s recent customer and channel management summit ImpartnerCON19, Smartsheet Director of Global Channels Steve Stewart, highlighted key reasons Smartsheet invested in a contemporary, out of the box SaaS PRM solution as a key channel acceleration tool ahead of others in the industry – helping the company bat ahead of the competition.

“We’re a high-transaction, low-deal value house, so having a channel program that is rapidly scalable is super important,” said Stewart during the presentation. At the time of the session, Stewart, a channel industry veteran from channel powerhouse companies like CA technologies, had recently joined Smartsheet as part of the company’s commitment to expanding their channel and inherited the newly implemented Impartner PRM solution.

Following are six key highlights from Stewart’s presentation on how a “right-now-versus-later” investment in PRM can help channel teams accelerate building and scaling their channel program:

  1. Justify the value of your expanding channel to finance: Continual evaluation of channel versus direct sales is a recurring conversation in most companies. Stewart says the data provided by Impartner PRM helps him prove the value of the channel and channel infrastructure to the CFO on a regular basis. “The famous Jack Welch of GE always said, ‘In God, we trust. Everyone else brings numbers’ – and that is absolutely true for the channel,” he said.
  2. Faster recruiting: Growing fast – and growing in non-US geographies — makes partner recruitment a big motion with Smartsheet’s channel team. “Being able to show partners the portal and its sales and marketing functions helps show them how well they will be supported,” said Stewart, adding that having a portal in local languages, especially in France and Germany, helps partners know they are going to be supported in their own language and adds credibility to the program.
  3. A clear view of which partners and regions are adding the most value: With Impartner PRM, Stewart says the portal and the deal registration process helps him show which deals are partner-led and which ones partners have collaborated on, so he knows 24/7 which partners are delivering the most value, by country — and he can adjust investments accordingly.
  4. The ability to map channel team structure based on data: To really understand how the Channel Account Manager structure should be organized, Steward said, “We needed a better line of sight to where we have the opportunity and maybe where we need more coverage – or less.  Impartner PRM provides us with that data to be able to manage that coverage.”
  5. Brand protection at scale: “All partners want to co-brand but we want to make sure that our brand is being treated properly worldwide,” said Stewart.  Impartner PRM ensures they have a co-brandable tool that provides guidelines and structures to help partners work in multiple geographies and expand their marketing reach – protecting their brand at the same time.
  6. Accelerated partner productivity: Getting partners ramped to profitability is key – and sales enablement is critical to Smartsheet’s ability to do that. Stewart said that is especially true outside of English-speaking countries where Smartsheet is not heavily implementing demand gen and awareness campaigns.  Partners in those markets must be able to execute marketing campaigns, and Impartner PRM is critical to extending the company’s campaigns in real-time.  “We continually put new campaigns up and we take ones down that have stopped converting,” said Stewart, helping ensure their partners have the same powerful sales enablement tools as their direct sales team and are fully armed to market to different personas, overcome objections and have strong competitive messaging. Plus, Stewart, said that by having data on which assets perform better than others, it’s easier to make data-driven decisions about what works vs., what doesn’t, given cultural differences in each region.

Sum total, Stewart says Smartsheet’s early investment in ImpartnerPRM has helped the company accelerate the growth of its channel against other emerging players.  “Walking into an organization as I did three months ago where all this was actually built was fantastic because I could pull credible, believable data out,” he said.

To find out how Impartner can help your emerging company turn its channel into a strategic competitive advantage, click here for a demo.

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