Forming partner relationships is an essential requisite for business growth. Traditionally, the focus is on marketing to get the ball rolling with regard to obtaining significant outreach. However, where the topic of discussion is Software as a Service (SaaS) startups, specifically, the one proven way to boost the growth of these startups is a solid partner relationship program.
Partnering up with companies that already have a large customer base is a definite asset to bolstering sales. By enabling other companies to sell their product for them through partner programs, the startups thereby ensure that their internal team is free to focus on higher-value tasks and projects.
What is Partner Relationship Management?
Partner Relationship Management (PRM) is a combination of software, processes and strategies that companies use in order to enable smooth business relationships with those business partners that help market and sell their products. These systems usually consist of a partner portal, client/customer database and other tools that allow companies to manage the various marketing and sales metrics.
What is a Partner Program?
Gaining traction in a highly competitive business world is an ever-present challenge for SaaS startups. A partner program is a way in which people are rewarded in return for drumming up business opportunities or value to the company. Partner programs differ in type and format based on the organisation. Scalability and growth are targeted with these programs.
- Referral Program
A referral program is one where existing customers make referrals to people that are in their network. In turn, for spreading awareness about the product or service, both the existing customer and their referral are rewarded, usually in terms of a commission or some kind of credit.
Results of various studies revealed that referral programs are the most trusted form of advertisement. Referrals are usually done by customers that are happy or satisfied with the product or service; therefore, they spread the word about the software for no money or an amount next to nothing.
- Affiliate Program
Affiliate programs, also known as Associate programs, are arrangements wherein online merchant websites pay a commission to the affiliate websites for directing traffic to their website.
The affiliate websites post links to the merchant website, which direct the various users to the merchant website. There will be an agreement in place between the affiliate website, and the merchant website. The affiliates are normally paid on the basis of the number of people they redirect to the merchant website.
In its early days, Amazon used this as an effective internet marketing strategy. Over the course of time, the Amazon Affiliate Program turned into mega success and played an important role in catapulting its growth.
- Reseller Programs
Resellers purchase products and services with the intention of reselling them to potential customers. Reseller companies normally have an established customer base, thereby making outreach a lot more convenient.
For SaaS startups, a reseller program is a good option to explore in terms of widening that outreach instead of the heavy investment in marketing at the early stages. Resellers usually set their own prices and offer the customers’ support and other value-added services. For startups that have a B2B target customer base, a reseller program could turn out to be highly beneficial.
Choosing the right PRM Software
A PRM software is one that is purely dedicated to catering to the business needs of the channel partners. With the various PRM Software tools available, it is hard to come to a decision swiftly. However, there are a few points that one must consider while opting for the PRM software tool:-
- Ease of Use
The interface of the software must be one that facilitates easy operations. The registration of new deals, updation of content and landing pages must happen seamlessly and with ease. All the relevant information required by the partners must be easily accessible to them as and when the need arises. The software should be one that doesn’t require extensive training of the employees or the partners.
- Easy Setup
The installation of the software should be simple and quick so as to get started at the earliest. The ease of implementation plays a significant role in the efficiency of the partners and their work. Moreover, the training manuals and related resources must be offered by the software company.
- Well Supported Product
In the world of business, time is of the essence. Therefore, any technical glitches or outages must be resolved instantly with the expertise of well trained technical support staff. Where the partner or the company itself faces issues regarding setup or any other software related issues, a solution must be drummed up at the earliest. Therefore, it is imperative to choose PRM software that is well supported and technically sound.
- Tool Matches the Requirements
While choosing the preferred PRM software, make sure that the choice made easily integrates with all the other software tools that are existent and running in the business. It is vital that the PRM software is in sync with the other software tools so that the various operations of the business run in a smooth and efficient manner, barring any interruptions whatsoever.
- Is the Product Headed in the Right Direction?
The partner management space is changing rapidly, and hence, the PRM software chosen must be one that is constantly innovating, constantly upgrading itself to be in line with the changes in technology. Switching platforms or software can turn out to be a very costly and time-consuming affair, and hence, it is imperative to invest in a product that is heading in the right direction. The product doesn’t just need to do the bare minimum; it has to be one that brings your partners close to you and your customers even closer, so there exists a solid relationship with them.
Strong partner programs are the future building blocks to a successful business in this day and age. With the advancements in the field of technology and automation, programs such as the Partner Relationship Management/Program are gaining relevance at a rapid rate, and thus, the future of business is in the hands of programs such as these.
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