The CRM vs. PRM Debate: Focus on the Task, Not the Tech

The CRM vs. PRM Debate: Focus on the Task, Not the Tech

Bob Jones 3 min

Brian Hattaway’s article: Your CRM Is The Center Of Your Partnering Systems sparked a ton of debate about the role CRMs and PRMs play in your partner tech stack. Honestly, I was surprised at the amount of energy the partnership community had regarding Brian’s article.


Brian urged partner pros to focus on the task, not the tech. If the tech doesn’t integrate into your mission – get rid of it.

This isn’t controversial; this is just sound business sense. Partner pros, we’ve been through this before. Let’s not repeat the same mistakes of the past.


The CRM is the customer “System of Record”

I see the CRM vs. PRM debate as being analogous to Financial Systems. Although there are lots of ancillary integrations, pretty much everybody agrees the General Ledger system is the "crown jewel" (and source of truth) for a company’s financial information.


In a financial system, the ledger keeps records of all the incoming and outgoing money. Similarly, for your Partner Program, the CRM acts as the central hub to manage, track, and store information related to your company’s current and potential customers.


Don’t repeat history

The CRM vs. PRM discussion got me thinking about the “elephant in the room” when it comes to partnerships and technology. Let’s be honest; our community is not lacking in tech. We have amazing technology across a multitude of partnering categories (account mapping, PRM, marketing, attribution, etc.).


So how come the success rate of partnerships is still so abysmal (< 50%)...clearly, it’s not the technology.


Unfortunately, partnering professionals are repeating the same mistakes our Finance, Sales, and Marketing colleagues made when they went through their digital transformations over the past two decades.


Beware of the "Silver Bullet"!!

There’s a time-tested framework (dating back to the 1960s) that states that people, processes, and technology (the naming order of the framework was not accidental) have to be in balance for businesses to achieve optimal organizational efficiency.


Historically, many businesses tried to take a shortcut by introducing technology first (the Silver Bullet), generally to disastrous results. In the early 2000s, I ran a number of “9 figure” SI engagements to replace failed ERP system implementations.


Why did the original implementations fail? Companies tried to overcome bad (or non-existent) processes and untrained staff with technology.


In the consulting community, we called it “paving the cowpath”. It feels like many in the partnership community are following the same “cowpath” approach and not surprisingly, we are starting to hear companies questioning the value and return from their Partner Tech investments.


People and process THEN technology (say it out loud)

So the message is simple. If you want to increase the likelihood that your Partner Program will be a success, do the following:


  1. Develop (find and/or train) a skilled cadre of A-Team partnering professionals
  2. Implement a solid foundation of robust and repeatable partnering processes
  3. Then enable those professionals and processes with technology


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Bob Jones 3 min

The CRM vs. PRM Debate: Focus on the Task, Not the Tech


Let's not repeat the CRM mistakes of the past.


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