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PRM Meaning in Business

There are plenty of potential benefits that come with strategic business partnerships, most of which center around either increasing profits or tracking the ROI of a particular product, service, or business initiative. It’s easy to see the basic benefits of well-executed business partnerships, like the ability to bring different experiences and expertise to the table for problem solving, strategy development, and more. 

At the same time, a business partnership that’s hastily formed or inefficiently supported can have an opposite, counterproductive effect. It can cause one or more parties to lose focus of the shared objectives—or their own roles and responsibilities within their partnership.

That’s why partner management is so vital. Partner management—or partner relationship management (PRM) in its full form—provides a framework for better, more productive partnerships, wherein both parties…

  • Understand the primary objectives of the partnership.
  • Have the right tools, resources, and support available to further the partnership.
  • Effectively perform their roles and responsibilities within the partnership agreement.
  • Participate in consistent, two-way communication.
  • Identify and track meaningful metrics for gauging success.
  • Work together to collaboratively solve any issues that may arise.
  • Celebrate shared milestones and successes.

This article is going to take a deep dive into all the things PRM means to a business. We’ll start with some basic definitions and objectives, and then we’ll explore the must-have components of an effective PRM framework.

What Does Partner Relationship Management Mean in Business?

Beyond the fairly obvious definition of “managing partner relationships,” TechTarget defines PRM as “a combination of the software, processes and strategies companies use to streamline business processes with partners that sell their products.” Since the exact software, processes, and strategies used will vary from one business or business partnership to the next, this PRM definition is broad by design. 

This underscores the importance of defining objectives that are specific, measurable, and mutually beneficial—and then determining what kinds of software, processes, and strategies will be most effective in driving meaningful results. Torchlite offers a robust and innovative partner management platform, built to help B2B SaaS companies develop and manage successful partnerships.

What Is the Difference between a CRM and PRM?

The main difference between a customer relationship management (CRM) and PRM comes down to the primary purpose—or business case—of each. To differentiate the terms, a CRM refers to a software platform related to customer relationship management. PRM, meanwhile, has a broader connotation, referring to any number of functions related to effectively managing productive partnerships.

  • What Is the Purpose of a CRM? The primary purpose of a CRM is to provide organizations—especially their employees in customer-facing roles—with a “single source of truth.” A CRM platform typically serves as a repository where customer details can be easily accessed, such as contact details, transaction history, and so on. Having this information organized and accessible helps to elevate the customer experience agents are able to provide.
  • What Is the Purpose of PRM? PRM, by contrast, provides a framework for an organization to manage one or more business partnerships. The strength of a company’s PRM program primarily impacts its ability to create—and maintain—smooth and productive business relationships.

Ultimately, the most important difference between PRM vs CRM is that a CRM is used to create better customer relationships, while PRM focuses on developing high-quality relationships with business partners. It is also worth noting that one is not necessarily better than the other, and they’re not mutually exclusive—in fact, many sophisticated, modern businesses leverage both.

What Is an Example of a PRM Program?

Consider these two popular partner relationship management examples:

  • Salesforce Partner Program | Salesforce offers a partner program for companies that resell, implement, or manage Salesforce CRM and other Salesforce products. Partners can earn certifications, access technical support, and leverage marketing and sales resources.
  • HubSpot Partner Program | Hubspot offers a partner program for agencies and consultants that resell, implement, or manage HubSpot’s inbound marketing software. In addition to offering certifications, technical support and training, and other resources, they also have technology partnerships for software that integrates and adds value to the Hubspot ecosystem.

While these are two well-known PRM examples, PRM is not just for giant organizations with seemingly infinite resources. In reality, PRM can look like a lot of different things—so developing an effective PRM program for your organization doesn’t necessarily mean you have to move mountains. At its most basic level, PRM is about setting expectations, developing effective communication channels, and being committed to mutually beneficial business objectives.

What Does a Successful Partner Management Framework Do?

A PRM framework creates shared expectations, improves communication, and helps develop and maintain productive relationships between business partners. PRM is not a one-time conversation or transaction that occurs—rather, like most relationships, it’s something that develops and evolves over time as business objectives or priorities shift over time. 

To better understand the idea of a PRM framework, consider the following components of building an effective business partnership:

  • Identifying, evaluating, and screening potential partners.
  • Developing mutually beneficial expectations and terms for the partnership.
  • Determining which communication channels will be used for ideation, collaboration, and updates.
  • Identifying and tracking key metrics related to ROI and other considerations.
  • Maintaining productive relationships over time, from initial onboarding and beyond.

How Do You Manage a Partner Relationship Effectively?

Effective partner management requires, among other things, trust, transparency, and clearly defined objectives. These are not distinct requirements—rather, they are deeply intertwined with each other. So, while every business partnership will likely look different, the one thing the most productive partnerships have in common is a mindset of mutual benefit and provable ROI.

As you think about what kinds of partnerships make the most sense for your business—and how to effectively develop and manage them—consider the following partner relationship management best practices:

  1. Charting a Partnership Development Strategy | Just like you wouldn’t build a brand new house without first laying a strong foundation, the same concept applies to business partnerships. The best way to ensure that a partnership is going to be productive and mutually beneficial is to start with clear goals. These should be developed collaboratively, and both sides’ priorities and perspectives should be heard and considered. From there, you can begin to identify the most appropriate KPIs for gauging the partnership’s success over time. Finally, clear and consistent communication is an absolute must-have component of a PRM program’s foundation. 
  2. Defining Your Partnership Management Structure | While no two partnerships are going to be identical, the fundamentals of partnership management are consistent. In the context of PRM, “management” refers to the development and maintenance of open, collaborative relationships. These relationships require, at a minimum:

    • Clearly identified roles and responsibilities for each partner.
    • Transparent, straightforward dialogue throughout the life of the partnership.
    • Comprehensive documentation outlining the terms and conditions of the business relationship.
    • Periodic reassessment of the partnership’s objectives and performance over time.
    • A commitment (on both sides) to uphold their responsibilities and comply with the partnership’s terms. 
  3. Maintaining Regular Communication | Partnerships rely heavily on trust, and a consistent commitment to communicating openly and honestly helps to ensure a long-lasting and productive business relationship. It’s important to note that communication and feedback should be a two-way street, with those on each side feeling comfortable voicing their opinions through the appropriate channels. The other vital point here is that partners shouldn’t just be communicating when they have concerns—celebrating milestones as they occur is just as important!
  4. Empowering Your Partners With the Right Tools | While we’ve been heavily focused on the importance of communication and collaboration, PRM is also about making sure an organization’s partners have everything they need in order to thrive—onboarding materials, for example. Especially if you work with multiple partners, we recommend creating a dedicated partner portal, an online gateway where partners can access the documentation and resources they need to effectively perform their roles.
  5. Tracking Partnership Progress | You can’t improve what you’re not measuring. Even though business partnerships can be complex, it’s still important to set—and track—meaningful benchmarks. This all goes back to the first best practice in this list—collaboratively defining what a successful partner relationship is going to look like, and what each partner hopes to achieve. Once your benchmarks are set, outline some expectations for how and when performance checks will occur.
  6. Evolving the Partnership | Just like a business typically won’t go too long without modifying their product or service offerings—either in response to changes in the business or its customers’ preferences—a partnership requires regular evaluation to keep both parties on the same page over time. When working with partners, you can’t always expect them to initiate contact when they have a concern. So it’s best to be proactive in soliciting feedback and working to understand where the other partner is coming from and how to best address their questions or concerns. Otherwise, small issues can turn into larger frustrations.
  7. Tackling Business Partnership Problems and Solutions | Successful partner relationship management requires mutual understanding and a shared commitment to success. It is inevitable that issues may arise, so it’s important not to avoid these but to tackle them head-on and prioritize coming up with fair and mutual solutions. This may not always be easy, but with a foundation of communication and understanding—and keeping a cool head—most issues can be resolved without turmoil.

You can learn more about each of these best practices in our Partner Relationship Management Best Practices blog.

What Is a Partner Relationship Management System?

A PRM system can refer to an organization’s partner management framework, the PRM software they use to engage with and support their partners, or both. Since we’ve already covered what a PRM framework looks like, let’s pivot to the software side of PRM.

What Is Partner Relationship Management Software?

A PRM software platform is a typically cloud-based system that connects partners with the information, resources, and support they need to be successful. 

Of course, not all PRM software examples will be well-suited to your business, industry, or partnership type. Consider the qualities of the best PRM software, which include the tools and resources you’ll need to:

  • Onboard, train, and certify new partners. Torchlite’s platform enables partners to submit applications, review their status, and access agreements and other documentation within a convenient online portal. Companies can also publish and manage partner-specific resources, as well as certification courses to ensure that new partners are up to speed and ready to sell.
  • Manage lead distribution, deal flow, and co-marketing programs. Robust Salesforce and HubSpot CRM integrations make Torchlite’s platform a powerhouse for actionable insights you can use to fine-tune your partner program. It’s also possible to automate channel marketing journeys, simplify, streamline, and track deal registration, and measure marketing efforts via personalized link tracking.
  • Take action on Crossbeam account mapping data. With Torchlite’s platform, it’s easy to build effective playbooks, automate marketing campaigns, and track how leads are being identified and followed up on.
  • Track partner performance and sales attribution. At the end of the day, partnerships are about results—more specifically, ROI. Torchlite’s platform was built with this in mind, offering everything you’ll need to evaluate the performance of individual partnerships or view different groups of partners by tier, quota, or performance. With Torchlite, you can also track referrals, sourced revenue, and real-time engagement.

Learn More About What Torchlite’s Comprehensive PRM Platform Can Do For You

In this article, we’ve covered a lot of ground—from defining PRM to identifying what makes the best PRM program examples so successful to highlighting how the right PRM platform helps partners achieve their objectives. Yet, we’ve only scratched the surface of how Torchlite can power your partner program. That’s because we’d rather show you—so book a demo today to see everything our PRM platform has to offer!

Kelly Schwedland

Kelly Schwedland is the CEO of Torchlite, where he is at the forefront of scaling partner programs and revolutionizing the way businesses collaborate and drive growth, with a passion for driving revenue and fostering innovation through partnerships.