4 Ways to Improve Your Partner Channel Success

At Perficient, we’ve been helping manufacturers maximize partner channel investments for over 20 years. For the past decade, we’ve done it with the industry’s best CRM and sales force automation platform: While we’ve always known that their Partner Relationship Management (PRM) solutions are great, industry experts are recognizing that success as well. And recently the Salesforce Partner Community raised the bar yet again.

In this blog post, I’ll show you just four ways (out of many more!) that we’re helping some of our biggest clients succeed with their partner channels using Salesforce PRM.

1. Strategic, consultative approach to PRM

Strategy can get overlooked when companies embark on transformational initiatives.

Not having a strategy is like jumping in a car with no map or destination. Wanting to get somewhere, organizations tend to jump immediately to tangible tools.

While tools certainly make up a significant portion of your investment in the partner network, we know it takes much more than technology to succeed. That’s why we first work with our clients to establish the business outcomes they want to accomplish with their partner network. We look at the people, the processes, the data and the technology needed to achieve those outcomes.

Here’s how we do it:

  • Assess current state of your partner relationships and channel strategy.
    • What measures of success do you track with them?
    • What tools do you currently have?
    • How are you supporting partners?
    • How do you recruit and onboard new partners?
    • What kind of executive support do your partners get?
  • Identify specific outcomes and impediments.
    • What do you want to achieve? Some examples on that list may include:
    • Decrease lead closure time.
    • Increase opportunity win rate.
    • Capture competitive data for lost deals.
    • Increase customer loyalty.
    • Reduce order-related calls to customer service.
    • Speed the quote-to-order time.
  • Tell the story. See the big picture and how you can pivot from being a product-centric manufacturer to becoming a customer-centric organization. Your partner systems, CRM, marketing, sales and service can all work together to give customers a great experience.
  • Establish a program roadmap. Get the highest value functionality into the hands of your partners quickly, and break up the work into manageable chunks. This includes organizing the work efficiently and effectively with the desired business outcomes in mind.

2. Smart Lead Management

Getting leads to your partners is a high priority. But many manufacturing clients come to us with a lead management “system” of spreadsheets, emails and word-of-mouth. You need to move hot leads quickly to the right partners and know with confidence that they are working those leads and closing deals.

Here’s how we do it:

  • Help you define a good nurturing strategy. Follow a relevant buyer journey with Salesforce Marketing Cloud to engage your leads with individualized, timely content.
  • Evaluate your lead qualification processRecommend and implement automation solutions with the Salesforce platform.
  • Take advantage of AI and machine learning. Systematically (and automatically!) qualify leads with Salesforce’s Einstein Lead Scoring.
  • Deliver the right leads to the right partners. Implement Salesforce’s Lightning Partner Community and use the Lead Inbox. If you have more sophisticated territory management and lead routing needs, we open our toolbox of custom routing solutions to find the right fit for you.
  • Implement data quality toolsTake advantage of our real-world experience, creating matching rules and duplicate prevention techniques to maintain a 360-degree view of your customers.
  • Close the loop on opportunities. We work with you and your channel to set expectations for lead follow-up, deal registration and closing opportunities. And give partners visibility into their performance and hold them accountable with real-time reports and dashboards in their community.

3. Integrated Partner Marketing

You invest heavily in establishing and promoting your brand in the marketplace, and you want to ensure that your brand is represented well across your partner channel. Unfortunately, most partners don’t have the time or expertise to market your brand, and they welcome (and even expect) assistance from you. So it’s key to leverage campaigns and content you’ve already created for your corporate marketing with your partners.

Here’s how we do it:

  • Take a 3-tiered approach.
    Recognize that:
    • Some partners can do their own marketing (the “Do It Myself” partners)
    • Some partners need your help (the “Help Me Do It” partners)
    • Some simply want you to do it for them (the “Do It for Me” partners)

    We help you structure your partner marketing to support all three.

  • Provide partners with valuable marketing content. You can also use Salesforce Content to upload, manage and publish branded marketing resources to your partners, such as logos, brochures, spec sheets, presentations, ads and testimonials.
  • Create cross-channel partner campaigns. For the “Help Me Do It” partners, create campaign hierarchies and tactics in Sales Cloud and make them available to partners through the Partner Community.
  • Distributed Marketing (pilot) with Marketing Cloud. For the “Do It for Me” partners, leverage the power of Marketing Cloud Journey Builder to create campaigns that partners can participate in directly within the Partner Community. Partners enroll their own leads and contacts to follow the journeys you create.

4. Automated Marketing Development Funds

Marketing development funds (MDF) or cooperative marketing (coop) can be a great way to truly partner with your channel to move your brand forward in the market. But you need to automate the process to make it worth the effort.

Here’s how we do it:

  • Enable Salesforce’s MDF featuresUse the latest standard objects and process flows to set marketing budgets for partners, allow them to request funds and route them for approvals.
  • Provide partners with electronic claims submission. Implement Perficient’s partnerDRIVEN manufacturing solution to ensure partners remain brand-compliant and their submissions qualify for MDF reimbursement.
  • Automate accounting. Engage Perficient experts to integrate Salesforce MDF/Perficient partnerDRIVEN solutions with your back office for maximum efficiency.

Marketing and selling through your partner channel is core to your business. At Perficient, helping manufacturers market and sell through their partner channel is core to our business, and we’d love to help you!

Want to know more about how we’ve equipped manufacturers maximize their partner technology investments with Salesforce PRM? Just ask, and we’ll show you.

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David Stone

With more than 30 years of experience in IT, software development and client consulting, David is passionate about making things. He loves the process of taking raw materials and turning them into useful products that add value to people’s lives.

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