How to Make Sure Your PRM is a Platform for Growth and Scalability

By nearly every measure, worldwide, the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) market is hot. Caliente. En feu. In fiamme. Companies have realized that PRM is as critical to their success as CRM.

What that means, of course, is that there are more and more PRM choices to help you harness the power of your partner network and accelerate indirect sales – a rising tide floats all boats. However, to allow your business to grow and scale, one of the most critical elements in your selection is to ensure you choose a PRM that is truly built on a platform that is architected to grow as fast as you are -- and not a standard, static Partner Portal solution. Here are the top three reasons why:

  1. Scalability:

    Just like a house connected to major utilities, a true platform means the infrastructure powering your PRM has capacity on tap to add new functionality and/or scale as you scale to handle tens, thousands or tens of thousands of partners. The infrastructure you need to power your growth is already there – and is always being updated – so your PRM is always ready and able to scale as you scale.

    Using that same analogy, a standard PRM portal compares to a lone cabin that’s not connected to a city’s infrastructure. To expand the house for more inhabitants, it is the owner’s responsibility to add more power, and replumb and rewire to meet the needs of the community – nothing happens automatically to make sure it’s ready for the future. Impartner PRM helps companies scale their channel programs an average of 46% faster – can yours?

  2. Extensibility:

    Platforms, by their very nature, are an extensible base upon which you can run and build out critical business processes now and into the future. Using the house analogy again, a platform means you have a thick, strong foundation with the capacity to carry more weight, and that a “never ending” foundation is already pre-poured, wired and plumbed to easily add additional functionality. With a standard Partner Portal solution, what’s there is there. Each new piece of functionality will mean a new foundation to be poured and wiring and cabling run. You’ll need to go back to your PRM vendor to add additions to your solution, costing you time and money.

  3. Changeability:

    With standard Partner Portal solutions, functionality is “blindly obedient” and can only do what it can do – it comes with pre-defined business logic that will need to be completely rebuilt, should you need to change the nature of how you operate your channel. This means you’d need to go back to your PRM vendor and back to their developers – very often continents and time zones away – to make simple changes which is a costly process and lacks the agility you need to manage your channel in real time.

  4. By contrast, Impartner’s PRM platform “abstracts” logic from the application, so that it is changeable and configurable with clicks not code. Making changes is more like changing something in a smart home – with a few buttons you can autonomously update lighting, power, temperatures, etc. This makes updates easy for you, and belies the sophistication and complexity of the platform underpinning your PRM that gives you that flexibility.

At Impartner, we get questions every day from companies lured by the Siren’s song of building a portal themselves – or turning to companies that rely on teams of off shore developers to, “build anything they want.” What we know is, time and time again, world leading, fast-growing companies from Splunk to Conga to Samsung turn to Impartner because they realize that the Impartner PRM platform is built for scale, built for nimbleness and built for the future.

For an infographic to compare and contrast the value of a PRM platform versus a standard PRM solution, click here. Ready to see Impartner PRM at work? Click here to take a demo.

Those Darn Sirens:

8 Points to Help You Resist the Sirens’ Song of Building Your Own Portal

The pace of transition to a SaaS solutions market is truly a phenomenon. IDC predicts that by 2018, at least half of IT spending will be Cloud-based, reaching 60% of all IT infrastructure, and 60–70% of all Software, Services, and Technology Spending by 2020. However, despite that growth and the increasing understanding of the “snap in and go” nature of SaaS solutions, human nature and the powerful lull of the Sirens’ Song of Building Your Own Portal continues to tempt an unfortunate number of companies – until it’s too late. Like most, at some point into the project, realize the resources for a build-it-yourself portal are beyond what anyone anticipated, and their project is stalling for lack of funding and bandwidth. If you’re tempted by having your IT team cobble together a new Partner Portal - beware! Here are eight lessons from others that BYOP (Building Your Own Portal) is a sirens’ song and not what you think it is.


  1. Time to market

  2. For most companies, the average time to build a homegrown Portal is 6 to 12 months. Your Partner Portal is the front door of your Partner relationships. If it isn’t helping you optimize your Partners’ performance, it's costing you and your Partners money, and 6 to 12 months is a business lifetime. Portal providers have already mapped out best practices with thousands of other companies, and know what world-class, enterprise-grade Partner Portal solutions need to bring to the table to give your Partners a great experience and your business a competitive edge. SaaS solutions can be up and running in just a few months – Impartner PRM in as few as 15 days.


  3. Loss of focus for your IT team

  4. Your IT team is busy keeping your company secure and maintaining business-critical services. Why would you focus your IT resources on building bespoke software when turn-key technology already exists that can be launched quickly, and can you keep it up to date in the future? With just 100 Partners and 5 sales team members, it would require one full-time employee to update and manage a PRM solution. What happens when you get to 1,000 Partners? SaaS vendors carry this scalability burden.


  5. Level of effort

  6. Out-of-the-box PRM systems are designed to plug into your existing CRM and light up with the data and information both you and your Partners are looking for. All the workflows are already integrated for every field. What are you gaining by doing this work yourself? Out-of-the-box solutions have already done the integration work and you don’t have to worry about expensive configuration errors. You didn’t custom build your CRM, why would you custom build your PRM?


  7. Lack of a roadmap for the future

  8. PRM solutions are constantly evolving. If you create your own Portal, whose technology roadmap are you on? Who will ensure that your Portal doesn’t become obsolete? Who will be responsive if security problems are found?


  9. Ongoing maintenance

  10. PRM solutions are built to integrate with CRM solutions. CRM solutions are also constantly updating – their data fields, their APIs, their features and functions – and they require that your PRM is constantly digitally “rewired” to ensure the systems are connecting and sharing data properly. Who in your organization will have the bandwidth to ensure the integration stays current?


  11. Infrastructure costs

  12. Portals need infrastructure – servers, security, configuration, redundancy, and availability. Most companies have hundreds or even thousands of partners around the world; do you have the in-house infrastructure to build, host, and support an enterprise-class Portal? Most Partner Portal solutions are SaaS, or cloud-hosted, and come with the infrastructure built in, so not only can you have your Portal up and running more quickly, you’ll know the front end of your new Portal is supported by a back end that is designed specifically to meet your partners’ needs.


  13. Initial creation costs

  14. What to do? When the costs start piling up, nine times out of 10 an organization will begin to “pare back” the feature set, leaving you with a rudimentary FTP site without the differentiating, revenue-building features you and your Partners so badly need. Turnkey SaaS solutions have already done the development work up front, so you are not paying the tech burden of custom making a solution that will cost you many times more for a feature set that’s typically less robust. If you sell indirect, between 80 and 100 percent of your revenue goes through the channel. While BYOP is tempting, it’s not worth the execution time, the risk of poor integration, the loss of short term and long-term focus for IT teams.


  15. Lack of channel expertise

  16. CRM companies (or your IT department) may know a lot about web development and SaaS architecture. They may be experts at setting up a website using an open source tool like WordPress or Drupal. But there's so much more to a Partner Portal than just the website. You need to engage with a company who can offer proven strategies for structuring an effective channel program, and then echo those in a Partner Portal. The value a true PRM company brings is less about the web development and much more about implementing best practices to accelerate your indirect sales.


Take a Demo of Impartner’s SaaS PRM tool that can have you up and running with a complete, enterprise-class Partner Portal as few as 15 days. View our complete Infographic for an in-depth look on how to resist the temptation of building your own portal.

Is Your PRM Platform 'Listening?'

How responding to “every move” your partners’ make accelerates channel revenue

We recently released the results of a global survey of our Impartner PRM customer base. There are a number of startling statistics on how our flagship PRM solution accelerates indirect sales – but 3 in particular, show how the power of Impartner PRM adds rocket fuel to your partners and your channel program by carefully stewarding your partners’ journey every step of the way. In the first year of use, on average, customers using Impartner PRM saw:

  • A 37% ramp in partner’s ramp to revenue productivity
  • A 32 percent increase in the percentage of partner base performing better with Impartner PRM
  • A 46% increase in the speed vendors can scale their overall channel program

The one defining feature of Impartner PRM that makes this possible: Our Channel Flow Workflow Engine. With it, your PRM platform is always watching, listening and observing your partners’ behavior, and triggering off communications on behalf of a partner manager. If your partners haven’t taken a critical action – we can give them a nudge. If they’ve passed a critical step, we prompt them to take the next one. If they’ve passed a critical milestone, we can bump them to the next level. At every step, we make it simple and easy, with clicks not code, for you to automate your partner’s journey exactly the way you want.

Without that, what happens? Nothing is automated and nothing is “listening.” Your team is going to have to look for the behavior and triggers in data, and hand craft communications to get them moving. In a channel program with 10 partners, that may be possible.  As you scale to 50, 100, 1,000 and beyond, that’s simply not possible. Without automation, your program will fail to grow as quickly as your competitors, no matter how many bodies you throw at the process.

If you want to learn more about how Impartner’s workflow engine ensures your PRM platform can truly respond to your partners’ behavior and automate shepherding them every step of the way to optimize their performance, watch this demo by our Senior Director of Product Management, Gary Sabin here. Ready to take a demo of Impartner PRM? Schedule your demo, and learn how we can help increase revenue 31 percent and decrease admin costs 23 percent.

More. Faster.

At the end of the day, if you boil down business objectives for most of us, those two words pretty much sum it up. All of us, whether we work for software, manufacturing, data center infrastructure companies, or any other vertical, the pressure to do more, faster, with the same or even fewer resources never lets up.



At Impartner – we’re not afraid of those two words. We’re proud that an increasing list of Who’s Who of top businesses, from Xerox to Splunk to Ingersoll Rand to Kodak Aleris turn to Impartner’s PRM software to accelerate the performance of their indirect channel.

In recent weeks, we released a series of customer case studies, for three more companies that define the velocity with which organizations are expected to move in today’s market: Ciena, Conga and Pivot3. Pivot3, for instance, a hyper-converged infrastructure company, has grown 80 percent in a year – which can test the mettle of even the most robust solutions. Impartner PRM not only kept up, it helped the company have the infrastructure to scale 400 partners in one year…and increase deal registration by partners by 275 percent – in six months.

Impartner PRM’s deal registration functionality has also played a starring role for Conga, the No. 1 paid app on the Salesforce AppExchange that simplifies and automates data, documents, contracts and reporting. Conga SI and Reseller Partner Program Manager Susie Wallingford said in the case study, “It’s driven down the average age of our deals to sometimes as low as a day, where a partner will register a deal and say, ‘Hey, I've done all the work for you. I just need you to send a quote,’ which has made my team look fantastic to our sales teams.”

Telecom leader Ciena sees similar popularity of deal registration with partners. “Our partners like this feature because it gives them a competitive advantage,” said Genevieve Beaumier, partner experience manager for Ciena. “This functionality provides the framework that allows Ciena and its partners to collaboratively work on new opportunities, including automated approval/notification workflows and real-time updates between the PRM and CRM systems.

If you want to learn more about how Impartner has accelerated channel performance from these customers, click here. If you’re ready to get more from your channel, faster, get a demo here.

When The Buck Stops With the CFO: Make Sure Your PRM Biz Case Has the Goods

In the not too distant past (three years ago), the line at the CFO’s door asking for a new technology buy was a short one: IT.

These days, it’s probably someone from every department – accounting itself, HR, sales, marketing, engineering, and so on. As the buying decision has shifted from IT to the business units, CFOs are faced with requests from every direction for THE technology every group is certain they NEED to have or they will fall behind.

Unfortunately, many fail to come armed with the information they need to help the CFO prioritize requests and understand what will truly have the most impact on the business. However, we know putting together the right info can be challenging. That’s why, in a recent white paper, we summarized the pre-sales conversations we’ve had with our customers, who are some of the world’s top corporations such as Splunk, Xerox, Conga, Zendesk and Ingersoll Rand. We’ve packed it full with data from a global Impartner customer survey to get right the business hard of the matter with your CFO and help you get the PRM buy of your dreams.

So, if you’re a channel/sales/marketing leader, read through this white paper, “The CFO’s Business Case for PRM,” and learn more about the top 13 reasons a PRM solution is the single most important technology purchase your company can make to accelerate your indirect sales. Just consider these performance stats from our Impartner PRM customer survey:

  • 31 percent increase in revenue
  • 23 percent decrease in administrative costs
  • 46 percent faster partner program scalability
  • 32 percent increase in percentage of partner base which improved their performance
  • 48 percent increase in sales for partners who have completed training programs
  • 56 percent increase in profit of partners who used sales enablement materials
  • Savings of up to $50,000/year by 90 percent and savings of up to $100,000/year by 10 percent by consolidating technologies and using functionality built into the PRM

Want to learn more, set up a one on one demo. We’ll help you make sure you’re ready to go grab a copy of this white paper for your CFO, secure your place in line, and get the budget you need to transform your channel’s performance.

To Whom It May Concern

"To whom it may concern..." Is that how you greet your partners on your partner portal? Of course not, you’re thinking to yourself, that would be crazy, right? Surprisingly, despite the explosion in the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) market, there are a tremendous number of companies out there who haven’t upgraded their partner portal technologies – and because they cannot personalize the experience for each of their partners who sign on – that’s essentially how they say hello to their partners.

If you’re one of those, you may be thinking – “Does it really matter so much, if ultimately, they can find the information they are looking for?” The answer is yes. Consumer-grade experiences with retailers like Amazon and airline frequent flyer sites, mean that most of us expect to be greeted by name, and given full insights into our purchases and offers that are available to us.

So what’s good enough in today’s market? Think in threes. If you cannot personalize your partner portal in at least three places or more, you are immediately at risk of “leaving money on the table.” Because you’re not able to optimize your digital conversations with your partners, you can’t convey the most important information when they visit your portal, and you’re at risk of having them leave you for vendors who make it easier to drive value out of your mutual relationship.

When your partners sign in, they should be greeted by name, see what next steps they need to take to be onboarded, be able to see their status and what would take to bump them to the next level, get info on new products, see what incentives and special offers are available to them, view their leads, see what events you have coming up in your area, see new content that’s available to them, understand what training is available…and on and on. At every level, Impartner customer stats show the power of that personalization: a 31 percent increase in revenue, a 37 percent increase in partner ramp time to profitability, and a 56 percent increase in partner profitability for partners using sales enablement materials.

Fortunately, if that is your current state, Impartner can help shift to a fully personalized partner portal experience in as few 30 days with our simple, yet highly engineered 3-step Velocity process. Take a demo to learn more.

An inability to personalize your partner portal is a topic covered in our recent eBook, "The Top 13 Signs You’ve Made the Wrong PRM Decision.” Read more about the 13 signs it's time to consider a new PRM solution to truly drive the performance of your channel.

Do You have the Business Mindset to be a Top Channel Chief?

When it comes to accessing your own business acumen, ask yourself these questions. Can you see around corners, tease out insights from a spreadsheet or dissect a PowerPoint presentation for structural flaws? How about breaking down an industry report and extracting new understandings that others miss? You’ll have to do these and more effectively to lead in the channel. Working with partners requires:

  • A data-driven mindset and the ability to think broadly and clearly at scale.
  • An understanding not only of sales models, but also marketing, customer experiences, social media, partner satisfaction and macroeconomics.
  • An understanding of the dynamics of partner recruitment, recognition and reward.
  • An ability to master more than your employer’s economics; you also have to immerse yourself in your partners’ finances no matter their size, focus or territory.

In addition to those skills, you’ll also need an ability to understand international business and regulations. For example, establishing a sales office and business entity in some countries is all you need to recruit and engage partners. In others, it’s merely a first step. In a significant portion of the world, you’ll have to master not just partner but government relations. And how you sell, reward and retain partners will require a vast amount of business acumen and cultural savvy. Partners in the some regions do not like entering information into Partner Resource Management (PRM) systems unless its triply verified. In other regions… things are more casual.

What does business acumen look like in action. In one instance a few years ago, an up-and-coming channel chief took a job for a company that, out of almost nowhere, zoomed to the top of key tech market. The company’s products were ideally suited to indirect sales and provided partners with lucrative after market opportunities. It literally was a “razor-and-blades” business for a moment in time. At the height of the company’s success, however, the channel chief sensed something was amiss. Product failures were growing and price commoditization, which negatively impacted partner margins, was rampant. When another vendor offered the bright young executive a job, he accepted it with mixed emotions. While he adored the people he worked with, he recognized that his employer’s technology was optimized for an era that was quickly coming to an end. His business acumen saved his career, in other words. At his next assignment, the same channel chief relied on his business acumen to secure greater funding and technological support for his company’s business partners.

To be a world-class channel chief, in other words, you must become develop a word-class mind for business. Think of it as though you were pursuing a Masters in Partner Administration or MPA.

This post is an excerpt from our new free eBook. Learn whether you have more of the element of what it takes to be a top channel chief in The Nine Attributes of a World-Class Channel Chief, authored by T.C. Doyle, Senior Content Director, Channel Brands, Penton Technology.

13 Signs You've Made the Wrong PRM Decision

Oh #@*$!

Is this what you’re thinking about your Partner Relationship Management (PRM) purchase? If so, you’re not alone. The number of marketing, sales and channel technology solutions has sky rocketed, and so has the complexity of the buying decision…and often, companies aren’t making the right decision. If you feel like “something is wrong,” but you can’t put your finger on it, we’ve just released a new eBook to help you identify the “Top 13 Signs You’ve Made the Wrong PRM Decision,” which are listed below:


  1. No one owns the roadmap or updates for your custom portal - and it's falling behind.
  2. You've realized the resources for a build-it-yourself portal are beyond what was anticipated - and the project is stalling for lack of funding and bandwidth.
  3. You realize the demo positioned aspects of the solution as out-of-the-box, but it was over positioned - and it's going to require major customization.
  4. Your “good enough” functionality is proving to not be good enough — frustrating partners and/or causing you to lose credibility in the organization because you can't see and report the necessary metrics.
  5. When your PRM vendor has a product or a security update, it is taking weeks or months to get it.
  6. You can’t personalize your partner experience – it’s not tailored or unique.
  7. Your team finds it too hard to update the content on your Partner Portal and the content is not fresh.
  8. Your dot.com site is better than - and doesn’t match - your Partner Portal, the front door to your relationship with your partners.
  9. You have almost no insights into past success or future projections for your channel partners.
  10. Your portal can’t support today’s end-user journey.
  11. You have other solutions in your tech stack that don't integrate with your PRM — and you're losing insight because data is siloed and your partners hate having to sign into multiple sites.
  12. You have channel conflict.
  13. You only have visibility into a small portion of your channel revenue represented in your sales funnel.

Don’t be surprised that you see your problem or problems -- the inspiration for the book, was conversations with a multitude of potential new customers, who are frustrated with their PRM purchase and looking for a new solution. If you didn’t get it right the first time, you can certainly make the decision to ‘live with it.” However, in the case of PRM, which is the single most foundational technology investment companies need to make to optimize the performance of their channel, if you don’t have it right, you need to acknowledge it, pull off the bandage and move on to something that works for your business. Otherwise, you will fail to unlock the potential of your channel and fall behind your competitors.


To learn more, download your complimentary copy of our eBook. If you already see the signs your company has made the wrong PRM decision, take an Impartner demo, and learn how we help leading companies like Xerox, Conga, Ingersoll Rand, LogRhythm, Ciena and National Instruments generate an average of up to $9 million in additional revenue from their indirect channels per year.

Modifying Partner Behavior for Sustained Change

Vendors need to reward partners’ journey, not just the destination.


By Larry Walsh

We often hear about the channel’s long tail – the vast number of underperforming partners that, en masse, generate a tremendous amount of revenue despite being individually uninteresting. Wrenching more sales out of this large segment seems a rich opportunity except for one problem: the reason these companies are in the long tail.

The majority of companies operating in the channel aren’t well-structured or disciplined business organizations. The channel lacks maturity because most partners are technologists first, businesspeople second. According to research by The 2112 Group, four out of 10 partners don’t have strategic plans for growth or business plans governing operations. Another 45 percent don’t set annual growth targets, and more than one-half don’t have annual sales goals.

Vendors, on the other hand, incent too little as a part of their partner relationship. Most channel programs influence and reward partners based on revenue generation and training and certification. While revenue productivity is important, as is empowering partners with knowledge, translating that productivity into persistent and consistent sales and marketing activity is what drives long-term success.

Vendors may realize that the channel isn’t automatic, but they don’t pay enough attention to this fact. Partners don’t always have the same alignment, goals, or interests as their vendors. They’re often tugged in different directions by numerous vendors wanting higher product sales. They service diverse markets and customers with a variety of needs and expectations. Couple these factors with their lack of business focus and you get inconsistent results and return on channel investment.

Partners need the guiding hand of vendors to help with organization, management, governance, and, ultimately, performance. This guidance can’t happen just once; engagement needs to be persistent, with vendors leading partners, and partners completing periodic tasks and receiving corresponding rewards for performance that results in positive returns. This process is called micro-behavioral influence. 2112, in conjunction with Impartner, produced a complimentary white paper, “Micro-Behavior to Macro Results,” that details how vendors can use micro-behavioral influences to drive more productive partner outcomes, why guiding micro-behavior is more advantageous than current channel program frameworks, areas in which to focus micro-behavioral influences, and how to measure influence outcomes.

The issue isn’t whether vendors should influence partner behavior, but to what degree they should influence business practices, operational processes, and customer engagements.

The channel nominally operates at a 90/10 ratio, with 90 percent of the channel revenue flowing through the top 10 percent of partners. The 2112 Group has assessed channel programs in which the top 2 percent of channel partners drive as much as 90 percent of the gross indirect revenue generation. These ratios reflect unbalanced channel programs that put vendors at high risk of disruption due to inconsistent partner performance.

Our white paper details how vendors can define micro-behaviors, assign tasks to partners, and reward partners based not just on end results but also on the process by which partners arrive at those results. The goal is getting partners to learn and incorporate good behavior that generates consistency, not just opportunistic and unpredictable outcomes.

Organizational Hutzpah: Do You have the Influencer Chops to be a Top Channel Chief

Organizational influence is one of the most important qualities of a successful channel chief in the information technology industry today. Being a channel chief requires securing a seat at the table wherever big decisions are made. If you don’t have a relationship with your CEO, you’re unlikely to occupy a spot in that all important place. Without a seat at the table, you’re likely to find yourself living in the shadows of your chief of marketing or head of worldwide sales.


It Takes Juice

To succeed as a channel chief, you’ll need what Hollywood calls “juice” to get your job done. That’s because you’ll need the help of others inside your company to coordinate go-to-market activities, plan for product rollouts and provide sufficient support to partners. There’s more: Being a channel chief requires more than just getting along with others; it sometimes requires compelling them to work on your behalf. This includes powerful leaders within an organization that have different if not competing agendas. Think executives who represent engineering, legal, finance and more. Without organizational influence, you’ll never get their cooperation when it comes to revenue sharing, customer satisfaction, partner reward or support. To be a successful channel chief, you have to thrive amid ambiguity, change and conflict. Is that coded into your DNA? Here’s a simple test to find out:


  1. Do you play well with others?
  2. Can you work across cross-functional lines and motivate others that do not report to you?
  3. Can you secure promises including funding, commitment and talent to work on your behalf throughout your own organization?

What does that influence look like in action? Here’s an example: A few years ago, a tech company known for its broad product portfolio and mercurial CEO scheduled some media interviews to promote the appointment of a new channel chief. Because the CEO was not especially involved with partners at the time, reporters were eager to ask the new channel chief about meeting the CEO before taking the job. After fumbling around for some words, the channel chief confessed sheepishly, “I didn’t meet him before I took the job.” It was a portentous sign. Despite the chief’s best efforts to improve channel relations and implement pro-friendly channel policies, the company’s partner programs never fully transformed. One reason? Sales leaders with closer ties to the CEO persuaded him to accept more channel conflict than what the channel chief liked. Not surprisingly, the individual lasted only a few years in the role.


This post is an excerpt from our new eBook, The Nine Attributes of a World-Class Channel Chief, authored by T.C. Doyle, Senior Content Director, Channel Brands, Penton Technology. Download it for free and learn whether you have more of the element of what it takes to be a top channel chief.