Magazine article CRM Magazine

Encourage Channel Partners to Adopt CRM

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Encourage Channel Partners to Adopt CRM

Article excerpt

The performance of channel partners affects your market success as much as your own sales, marketing, and service efforts, so it is vital to bring partners into the overall CRM strategy as completely as possible. Here are four strategies to do so:


1. Make Participation Matter

If partners are to willingly and openly participate in a CRM initiative, they have to be presented with opportunities to exchange meaningful information that will have an impact on how they do business, not just on your own performance. "Whether that's marketing funds, giving them leads, or potentially encouraging them to do other transactions before they get those leads, make sure there are mission-critical partner transactions," says Angela Bandlow, director of solutions strategy for mySAP CRM.

If the products and the leads are yours, then you have the flexibility to determine how, when, and where they are allocated. But if you hope to gain greater insight into your channel's business processes--processes that partners may consider proprietary--then they should feel that they gain through providing that visibility. Providing greater upstream insight to your cooperative sales partners or using their feedback to better prequalify leads is the kind of meaningful result your partners will expect.

Nortel Networks has doubled its revenue from leads every quarter for six consecutive quarters by delivering insight created by a lead management program for its channel partners (supported with technology by BlueRoads). Nortel increased its lead-closure rate by 500 percent, and cut its lead-loss rate from 40 percent to 10 percent within the first month, according to Mark Pierret, Nortel's senior marketing manager, demand generation, of North American enterprise marketing.

2. Remember Partner Constraints

Many independent resellers and integrators represent multiple product lines, and each of their suppliers may have a different mechanism for exchanging CRM information. Stick to easily deployed, easily learned partner portals whenever possible. The lower the barrier to entry, the more likely partners will be able to participate.

BlueRoads' Web-based application is intuitive enough that about 700 of Nortel's indirect and direct sales reps have embraced it. According to Pierret, so many partners have contacted Nortel to participate in the program that there is now a waiting list. …

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