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Key Takeaways: The Forrester Wave — Partner Relationship Management

What is PRM?

The purpose of PRM (Partner Relationship Management) software, is to enable companies to better manage their partners, with a focus on enabling people, products, processes, and procedures. Companies that implement PRM software are often looking to reduce costs and improve efficiency in working with their reseller partners. Most people have heard of CRM (Customer Relationship Management ) software. However, unlike a CRM, which is tailored toward your salespeople managing direct customer relationships, a PRM is focused on enabling partners with the resources and tools to sell on your behalf.

PRM’s have definitely grown in popularity over the last couple of years as the expansion of strategic partnerships, alliances, and resellers is more commonplace. Forrester stated, “the total PRM ecosystem, including software and services, is $850 million today [2018] and predicted to be $1.65 billion by 2023” — that’s a 50% increase over 5 years.

In October 2018, Forrester created a report evaluating partner relationship management providers. Our key takeaways are below:

  • The main pain points that PRM software solve are: “inefficient workflows, increased need for [partner] personalization and scale, and sophisticated segmentation and targeting”.
  • Our take: No matter the industry — if you are a company with a growing number of partners, the management of certifications, enablement, deal registration, and resources become insurmountable to manage. Especially, when workflows, integrations, and other security requirements grow in importance. A spreadsheet or homegrown PRM simply won’t cut it. Given the smaller PRM market size ($850M) vs other markets like CRM ($28B), the cost of PRM software tends to be very high and not well suited for small-to-medium sized businesses.
  • The main criteria that the PRMs evaluated to determine the PRM market position (see below) were, “enterprise market traction, revenues, and product functionality”. As Forrester points out, most PRM’s have similar functionality:
  • partner management
  • planning and contract management
  • performance management, on-boarding, training,
  • service management
  • partner portal/content management
  • partner opportunity management
  • partner marketing management
  • business intelligence
  • channel data management
  • Our take: The leaders in the Enterprise PRM space include, Salesforce, ImPartner, Zinfi, and Zift Solutions for their workflow capabilities, user permissions, security, sales leadership, and strong UI/UX. As a whole, the PRMs that made it into the partner vendor quadrant, although very powerful and well suited for the enterprise segment, were not built for small to mid-market companies. However, there are a couple of new PRM players that are tackling the SMB/Mid-market segment — some of these vendors include: and Partnerstack.

Complimentary software to PRMs:

  • Our take: A new partner software segment is beginning to emerge, that we like to refer to as the “co-selling segment”. The early software vendors, such as, Crossbeam, and PartnerTap, are enabling companies to surface prospect and customer overlaps between their partners, ultimately driving new sales insights and partner attributed revenue. These new upstarts are complimentary to partner relationship management systems and can create an immense amount of value for partners that have traditionally been surfacing overlaps through account-mapping spreadsheets. At, companies can connect the salesforce, invite partners, and surface only the shared account, customer, and customer overlaps between their partners — a process that used to have to be managed with spreadsheets.

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