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Enhancing Business Partnerships Using Partner Relationship Management

Every sales department must keep a close track of sales through both direct and indirect channels. An average of 70 percent of a company's sales are estimated to be generated via an indirect sales channel of business partners. Yet, in spite of the dependency on these partners, very few organizations have the ability to effectively manage partner relationships for mutual benefit. This is where Partner Relationship Management (PRM) comes in, which serves to connect organizations with their channel partners and optimize sales activities. A typical Partner Relationship Management Life-cycle can be illustrated as below:

Typical Lifecycle of Partner Relationship Management

PRM Lifecycle.JPG

Automating the Partner Relationship Management interface helps organizations optimize partner performance and accelerate indirect sales, which in turn, amplifies marketing reach and translates into better profits for both organizations. It is also a key approach to help channel managers navigate the following key challenges associated with multiple partners, products, and campaign programs:

 

1.       Lack of real-time communication

·         Companies that sell through partners often face the risk of not knowing their customers, whereas the partner knows the end user much better

·         When a partner is assigned to work directly with a prospect, the channel manager must also have visibility about the situation. Without real-time communication, the channel manager wouldn't know if the partner is struggling and if so why -- especially if a competing vendor is also scouring for a similar sales opportunity

·         The absence of closed loop feedback mechanism will prevent valuable information that a partner has from reaching channel managers.

2.       Ineffective motivation, on-boarding, and mentoring of partners

·         Another challenge faced by Organization is Partner On boarding when a new Partner is recruited. In the absence of a software based Partner Portal it can be a cumbersome task for a Channel Manager to educate Partners about the processes & help them in downstream selling during Partner On-boarding

·         For enhanced partner performance it becomes critical for a channel manager to retain his partners while keeping them motivated and mentoring them from time-to-time for downstream selling

·         To ensure that partners remain loyal, channel managers must keep them engaged on a regular basis and monitor their performance, which can be a herculean task in the absence of a software-based PRM program.

Barriers to PRM that give Channel Manager the blues

PRM Pain Points.jpg

1.       Poor lead lifecycle management

·         Legitimate leads developed by multiple sources sometimes are managed below par because partners fail to followup with a potential prospect

·         Channel managers are unable to analyze the partner's overall lead performance as updates are sent back to multiple stakeholders, but not to the correct one due to lack of a common database

2.       Lack of visibility into downstream investments

·         Many organizations fail to understand the buying patterns of the end consumer, which is key to decide on future investments. This information is also valuable in generating data-driven insights about program effectiveness across different geographies, partner types, industries, and product lines

·         Organizations traditionally tend to provide investments to their partners who distribute it via tiered levels to re-sellers in the form of sales and marketing support to add value to their programs. To ensure the money is being utilized effectively organizations need to have clear visibility of the effectiveness of their investments to justify them

 

Given the wide range of challenges that channel managers have to address, the Partner relationship Management component of Oracle Sales Cloud (OSC) provides a comprehensive solution to handle all of these aspects. The following diagram details the features of this solution:

Improving Partner Relationships with the Help of Oracle Sales Cloud

OSC-PRM.JPG

ü  Oracle Sales Cloud provides a conducive channel ecosystem complete with Branded Partner Portal (tablet version as well) where both parties have access to content, information and tools of the sales cycle. Furthermore Oracle Social Network provides a  platform to interact, discuss & collaborate real time basis

ü  Partner Registrations & On-boarding capabilities are customized by configuring the workflows to include process which are company/ industry specific. To avoid conflicts Deal registrations, and Deal Management smartphone app can be used by both partners and channel managers for Leads-Opportunities Life-cycle Management.

ü  For effective and flexible Partner Management, quotes can also be integrated with OSC to help Partners create special pricing for different customers to give them competitive advantage in the market.

ü  Market Development Fund or MDF functionality in OSC is used for Business Planning, managing partner funds & downstream investments functionality where Claims details, approvals, settlements, tracking all are done in a single portal.

ü  In order to retain, monitor & motivate Partners Infosys has developed Infosys Program Management app which enhances PRM functionality in Oracle Sales Cloud with Partner Competency Management. It leverages on Game theory to keep Partners engaged & motivated with Tier Based Specialization, Training & Certification and Products-Services management.

ü  Features like White Space Analysis, Reports are provided to track & analyze data to gather insights into customer behavior, market trends and effectiveness of various Partner Programs. Configurable reports and easy to use dashboards give a clear picture of Partner's performance and thus more visibility to Channel Manager.

 

Consequently, the bottom line is that automation of PRM using OSC is done to provide a positive experience to partners and drives the following key business benefits:

  • Ø  Partner engagement becomes more collaborative, and effective.
  • Ø       Improved speed-to-market increases revenues through partner channels.
  • Ø       Both parties enjoy financial benefits as marketing investments are more regulated, which create opportunities for effective joint-marketing campaigns.
  • Ø   Increased channel insights enable organizations to channelize joint efforts towards more profits.
  • Ø   Effective management of partner credentials helps identify improvement areas for maximizing return-on-investment.

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