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Agony aunt as a service

Impartner’s chief marketing officer Dave R Taylor has some helpful advice for those trying to increase and improve their partner communities

I have had my suspicions about the concept of customer relationship management ever since I bought a toothbrush and filled in a survey on the back of the receipt. I suspect there never was a £500 cash prize for one lucky winner, but having given them my phone number, the company decided we were in ‘a relationship’ and didn’t leave me alone.  

On the other hand, I understand that we all want to feel special and valued and CRM helps companies to give us that warm feeling. In the business to business world, they are more mature about relationships. Could it be because there’s more of a mutual respect?

When we used to chair roundtables between IT manufacturers and their resellers, it was clear that love at first sight did not always last. Vendors were completely smitten and reliant on young resellers from the minute their eyes met. But all too often, the vendors moved on and set the poor vulnerable resellers adrift. There were constant communications breakdowns and misunderstandings too.

We’d receive many tales about manufacturers who’d donned the clothes of the reseller and tried to sell direct. (This Transvendorism is very common but it’s mostly harmless and just a passing phase).

There were always resellers complaining they weren’t being kept in the loop or getting the same sales leads as the big boys. Sometimes our round tables were so full of pathos and desperate lead lamenting it was like living in the film Glengarry Glen Ross.

Impartner aims to circumvent these problems by providing CRM designed for the channel. Not surprisingly this is called Partner Relationship Management or PRM. Among many things, PRM provides a partner portal that allows vendors to manage and keep track of the leads and feeds supplied to channel partners.

Here, Impartner’s chief marketing officer Dave R Taylor, answers some typical B2B relationship problems. He might even make my Agony Aunt as a Service column a feature of the portal.


Dear Dave

My CEO told me to go get some new partners, so I spent a lot of time and energy finding the right ones. I even used a new online matching app, partners4U. After many calls, meetings and negotiations, we signed. Trouble is, after one deal they are not selling like they said they would. Why?

Dear vendor

Look in the mirror. Don’t ask what they can do for you; ask what you can do for them. Hold their hands, keep it fresh, nurture the relationship, encourage them to do their bit, celebrate successes and always impress them. You can even automate these disciplines with a partner relationship management system.

Dear Dave

We have an identity crisis: a good brand, strengthened by longevity and it’s loved. But our partners keep tarnishing our good name by talking nonsense.

Dear vendor

If you are not clear and provide the right content and support, what do you expect? That’s where a good mentor comes in - which is effectively what a partner relationship management system does. It’s a bit like programming: a reseller is only as smart as the vendor that mentored it.

Dear Dave

I woke up this morning and all the funds I’d earmarked for our partners has disappeared into a black hole. Where does all the money go?

Dear Vendor

Resellers and service providers can be like teenagers - always wanting more money and less accountability. Set some boundaries. You need to lay down the law, with a partner relationship management system. Otherwise your marketing funds will get frittered away in no time.

Dear Dave

I dread this time of year. The resellers are squabbling over deals all the time. I can’t wait until they go back to their conferences again. 

Dear Vendor

Good old-fashioned discipline, with a rigid deal registration tool, will soon put a stop to any arguments. If you can’t do it yourself, get a PRM.

Dear Dave

My partners tell us we are boring, dull and don’t talk to them anymore. It was fine at the start, but we just can’t seem to keep them interested. How do we spice up our relationship?

Dear Vendor

The thing is, a partner relationship is not just for Christmas. You can’t get them all excited and motivated and then simply forget about them. You need to communicate and make sure what you have to say is compelling and will drive your relationship forward. Tell them how great they are and how well your new products make them look good and stand out from the crowd.  Keep them fascinated and always wanting more. But it doesn’t have to be a millstone around your neck or cost you an arm and a leg. A good PRM will make it easy and help you automate this process to add that missing spark to you partner relationships.

Dear Dave

All resellers are like amateur footballers. They all talk a good game but very few go on to be professional. How do I identify and separate out the finishers?

Dear vendor

A lot of companies spend a fortune indulging ‘star’ players who really don’t return the investment. A PRM is like a club scout and an audit and a statistician. When it’s all added up and charted out, you can soon see who is 80 and who is 20. There are no hiding places on the PRM pitch.

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