28 Jul 4 tips for onboarding your channel partners to Salesforce PRM
by Cathy Miller
Businesses that rely on channel partners for sales are often embarrassingly bad at supporting their partners. These companies commonly struggle to effectively communicate, collaborate, and collect essential sales data and analytics from their channel partners. A whopping 58 percent of business decision-makers report that the accuracy of their indirect sales data falls below the levels needed to support sales and profitability decisions, according to 2021 Forrester research. When businesses make suboptimal and misinformed decisions regarding sales and profitability, it triggers a vicious downward cycle: Businesses that fail to properly support and empower their partners end up with partners that are less effective at selling. Specifically, partners lose their ability to deliver the high-quality customer service and cutting-edge customer experiences necessary to drive sales. Over time, partners disengage, let more and more sales opportunities slip through their fingers, and eventually give up altogether.
To maintain strong, mutually beneficial relationships with channel partners, companies need to invest in building a modern, integrated Partner Relationship Management (PRM) ecosystem. And there’s no better PRM platform than the industry-leading Salesforce Experience Cloud. Salesforce’s PRM offering is designed to help companies comprehensively manage relationships with all their channel partners, especially giving partners the tools, knowledge, and support they need to succeed. When companies initially invest in PRM, one of their most important responsibilities is introducing channel partners to the platform. The goal is essentially to sell your partners on PRM so you get strong buy-in and rapidly achieve strong user adoption rates. Let’s explore four essential tips for how a business can get its channel partners successfully onboarded to Salesforce’s PRM offering:
Build modern training resources and tools
Under a traditional onboarding paradigm, new channel partners are introduced to a company via in-person training sessions. While traditional training can still be an effective tool, channel partners expect other options—online training videos they can watch on-demand, knowledge bases they can search, and resources they can access from any device, including mobile. PRM is ideally suited to serve up all of these training resources and tools to partners, from introducing partners to product specs to introducing partners to suggested marketing and selling strategies to walking partners through the mechanics of preparing pitch decks. With these resources, channel partners gain the flexibility to learn and absorb critical information in formats and on timelines of their choosing, which maximizes their understanding of the material. Moreover, the company can customize these training resources for each partner, just like it would for an in-person training session. These customizations could even include basic tweaks like translating resources into a channel partner’s native language.
Enable personalized digital connections with partners
It’s not uncommon for channel partner relationships to be impersonal and strained. Companies unevenly communicate important information and updates, often overlooking digital channels that encourage two-way dialogue with partners. As a result, channel partners might miss key information, forget to share essential developments and changes with the company, or struggle to collaborate or work together effectively. PRM focuses on fostering personal connections with partners in a fully digital space that includes collaboration, chat, and social tools. Partners can be instantly routed and connected to the company representatives who can answer their questions. The result? Your company and partners can collaborate on meaningful projects together, like a coordinated marketing campaign that includes co-branded collateral and digital customer experiences. When companies enable these personal digital connections with their partners, these features become a compelling reason for partners to adopt and use PRM.
Help partners prioritize leads
Channel partners are often inundated with sales leads, with no way to prioritize or identify high-value targets. Especially if partners are accustomed to receiving a constant firehose of leads from the company, they become likely to ignore leads they don’t have time to pursue or spend copious time and resources chasing after low-value targets. PRM gives channel partners the insights, context, and perspective to understand who customers are and where they are on their buyer journey. Partners can use this improved understanding of who customers are to help prioritize how they follow up on leads and inform the specific selling strategies they deploy.
Give partners access to reliable product and pricing catalogs
Channel partners’ lives would be made so much easier if they could instantly access comprehensive, up-to-date product and pricing catalogs that are integrated seamlessly into their CPQ (configure, price, quote) system. PRM provides a platform for enabling this strategic integration. Instead of forcing channel partners to go hunting for product and pricing information or having to double-check information before finalizing and sharing it with customers, PRM puts all of this information in one place. PRM also integrates with CRM (customer relationship management), making it easy for channel partners to prepare quotes and manage these sales through their entire lifecycle.
Channel partners should quickly embrace PRM once they see the value of doing so. To build a PRM ecosystem that appeals to channel partners, it’s essential that companies build modern training resources and tools into the platform, give partners personalized digital connections to the company, help partners prioritize their sales leads, and provide access to fully updated and complete product and pricing catalogs.
Simplus is an expert at implementing Salesforce’s PRM ecosystem to strengthen a company’s connections with its channel partners. To learn more about how Simplus can implement a PRM solution that engenders strong buy-in and trust from channel partners, please reach out to Simplus today. We look forward to helping your channel partners maximize their sales opportunities for both your and their benefit.
Cathy is Simplus’ Director of Organizational Change Management.