By Tracy Diziere, President & CEO, TDZ Creative Partners
By now, the value and necessity of Partner Relationship Management (PRM) and Through-Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) systems is well established. Forrester sized the PRM market at $400 million in 2019 and expects it to grow to nearly $890 million by 2025. And in 2018, it predicted that TCMA sales would climb to $1.18 billion by 2023. However, while most businesses with mature and growing partner programs understand they need a PRM or TCMA solution, few realize what it takes to maintain that system after implementation. We call this the “care-and-feeding gap.”
A care-and-feeding gap exists when a channel leader or team has invested in a PRM or TCMA tool for which they do not have the bandwidth, personnel, or budget to fully leverage — or sustain — long-term.
This gap is created by everything from a lack of fresh content and timely updates to the inability to connect the dots between systems. Ultimately, PRM or TCMA solutions have to offer value to the partners and sales ecosystem — via seamless onboarding and deal registration; timely, accurate information; and relevant, customizable content. And when an organization starts to fall down in any of those areas, the gap widens.
To ensure their investments don’t become money pits, channel teams can start by prioritizing goals, determining scalability needs, and committing to ensuring the systems are used and supported. Even with this right-sizing exercise, once the system is implemented and in use for a while, other needs become apparent — such as improvements, customizations, and more oversight. Given that the channel teams we’ve encountered are already overwhelmed, it’s logical to engage a PRM/TCMA-focused agency to meet these needs.
A good creative partner can bring relief in many ways; the two most critical challenges they alleviate are bandwidth and backlog (of content). Learning the intricacies of the platform, designing the partner experience (PX), making all the updates, and measuring success (with the right data) all take time. Bandwidth to do all that sometimes doesn’t exist. Having a steady, ongoing resource to manage it all allows for faster launches and more consistency, even when there are staffing changes or variants in skill and interest levels for these tasks. Why not let your team focus where they are best suited and let someone else take the rest?
Content plays a huge role in delivering value to your partners and shaping PX, but bandwidth issues can create backlog. When there’s a glut of content ideas or requests and slow or no traction, enablement and sales suffer. So does the team’s sense of accomplishment — and image. A good creative partner will take your ideas and run with them, manage the project, and let you show up as the hero. Backlog also means neglected PRM maintenance activities like identifying and removing or updating old content, ensuring the proper tagging, and developing/updating content tracking tools.
Beyond providing bandwidth and backlog relief, a good creative partner is strategic and committed. They can facilitate a “Strategy Day” to define specific goals, and then help ensure the appropriate PRM/TCMA and content support is in place to help you meet those goals. Your outsourced PRM/TCMA partner should operate as an extension of your team, closing the gaps between what your organization can do today, what your partners need to be effective, and what PRM/TCMA vendors provide as part of customer success. These gaps aren’t anyone’s fault—they’re simply a reality of channel sales and marketing. And in business, wherever there’s a gap, someone will step in to fill it. When it comes to filling PRM/TCMA gaps, a good channel-proficient agency partner can make everyone’s job easier and more productive.
TDZ Creative Partners is an IT channel marketing agency that supports technology marketers in doing more.