Beyond Revenue: Using Your PRM to Build Relationships Instead of Revenue

Beyond Revenue: Using Your PRM to Build Relationships Instead of Revenue

James Bohrman 4 min

 

When I dove into my first PRM, I thought it was the coolest concept ever. It was before I had even heard the term “Partner Relationship Management” or even what a partner manager was in terms of title. At the time, I was actually looking for a tool to run an affiliate program for the agency I was working on, totally unrelated to partnerships. 

 

This is where I think my issue with the current PRM landscape starts to manifest itself. 

 

To be clear, I think that affiliate programs and reseller portals are great and totally needed, but something I began to realize as I began to pursue a career in the industry was that leads and opportunity management is only a small part of what managing a partner program entails. 

The “R” in PRM is missing

Obviously, all PRMs are built differently and achieve different goals, but the one clear gap that seems to always be missing in these tools is the “Relationship” side of things. I know that at the end of the day, leads and opportunities are what keep the lights on, but there needs to be a middle ground where we also put emphasis on things such as:

  • Co-marketing

  • Context sharing

  • Events

  • And other collaborative actions

Without these things, it would be more apt to call them Partner Revenue Management platforms. While it’s super important to be able to set up and track affiliate and reseller programs, I still haven’t seen a tool that actually seems to focus on the goal of managing relationships

The focus is unbalanced

Something else I’ve noticed about the current PRM landscape is that the balance of focus seems heavily slanted toward the user organization’s partner contributions back to the user org. 

 

This is expected and, of course, needed, but I have yet to see a PRM that has a focus, or at least even a secondary focus, on bi-directional collaboration between both the user organization and their partners. 

 

To me, this comes off as a gap in what a PRM promises, and what it’s supposed to be. If the only thing being managed in a tool is the amount of leads or revenue generated by a partner, then that’s not managing a relationship; that’s managing revenue. 

 

To manage a relationship, these tools need to have a way for partners to communicate with each other and to go a step further even among what I like to call a partner working group. 

 

My ideal vision for a PRM is a tool that doesn’t bind partner collaboration to 1:1 communication, but allows user organizations on the platform to facilitate communication between any number of partners that might otherwise never connect with each other. Slack Connect does this in a unique way, but the pricing model of Slack leaves much to be desired. 

A real PRM builds bridges; it doesn’t just track KPIs

Even irrespective of tooling, the most important aspect of partnerships is the ability to build bridges across organizations to drive mutual value. So when we begin to focus on the tooling we use to achieve our daily work, then it shouldn’t be a huge reach to think that there should be at least a few offerings in the landscape that put an extra emphasis on relationships, while also still focusing on the importance of revenue and opportunity attribution.

 

At the moment, it’s hard for me to even think about current offerings as tools that manage Relationships instead of revenue. Maybe that will change as time progresses. The PRM space is supposed to have a $56b TAM, so there’s all sorts of potential. 

Features that would fill the gap

With all this being said, there are some major features I’d love to see in what I think qualifies as a true PRM. The ability to build bridges between organizations is the most crucial aspect, but many things go into relationship building that aren’t met by current tools. To narrow it down to the most crucial:

  • Inter-organizational messaging à la Slack Connect

  • Partner projects management

  • Event planning i.e., shared calendars 

  • Revenue attribution (duh)

  • Content Planning and asset management

This would create a comprehensive Partner OS in my mind, and finally fill the gap on addressing what a partner relationship manager should be. 

Relationships over revenue

A truly holistic PRM should foster a genuine connection and trust between organizations. 

 

It’s not just about tracking numbers but about understanding the stories, values, and aspirations behind those numbers. When used effectively, a PRM can open communication and offer insights into partner needs and preferences.  

 

By cultivating relationships, companies can unlock areas for mutual growth. But it has to start with more than a mere financial transaction. It’s time that PRMs recognize and nurture relationships; they’re a gold mine of opportunities.

 

 

James Bohrman 4 min

Beyond Revenue: Using Your PRM to Build Relationships Instead of Revenue


Many PRMs focus on tracking leads and opportunities but lack features to build and manage relationships. A true PRM would enable collaboration, trust, and growth.


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