CRM Is Only Half of the Story


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These blogs will provide you with insights and opinions about partner relationship management from a strategic and a best practice perspective. We will also discuss RelayWare’s technologies and software and how they can be applied to help customers with common partner management challenges

I read with interest a blog post at that discusses the failure of CRM to positively impact customer service. I have heard this feedback from many companies who invested in CRM strategies but who do not feel, some years later that they have seen an acceptable or even measurable ROI. Of course it’s easy to blame software and systems. CRM should after all be a holistic business strategy not just software and as with all strategies, goals should be clearly defined first and metrics clearly established to measure performance against those goals.

Setting goals and defining metrics can often seem like a cumbersome waste of time when all you really want to do is execute on the strategy. But analyzing ROI becomes impossible months or years down the line if this work wasn’t done. It often leads to the claim that a strategy “didn’t work” so “let’s try another” when actually no definition of what success would look like was ever established.

Of course, one of the other key reasons that companies fail with their CRM strategies is that they do not consider that a holistic CRM/PRM strategy is needed. The fact is that if you sell your products or services through an indirect sales channel, then CRM is only half of the story. A CRM strategy should nurture your customers through the customer lifecycle to increase their propensity to repeat-purchase and recommend your products and services to others.

But in an indirect sales and support model, the individuals and organizations most likely to interact with your customer on a daily basis will be members of your channel partner community – not your own staff. So it follows that at the very least, partners have as much impact on the success of your CRM strategy as you do. In my experience, their impact can be even greater. So does your company have a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) strategy? What provision have you made for PRM methodologies and systems to ensure that you manage the far more complex relationship with your partners? Managing a partner lifecycle involves the same kind of nurturing as a CRM strategy provides for customers but with the added need for maximizing the partner’s propensity to market, recommend and sell for you. And that’s not easy!

In an earlier blog, I made reference to a Forrester statistic that on average, only 31% of a vendor’s channel partner community is actively selling for them. What of the remaining 69% – could they be selling against you? And of the 31% – how many are truly trained, enabled, motivated and supported to represent your company and execute on your CRM strategy – assuming they are even aware of it, understand it and buy into it?

In practice, the answer is usually “very few”. That is why we strongly advocate the development and execution of an integrated customer and partner relationship management strategy. Whether you choose to deploy software to implement that strategy is a discussion for another day!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mike Morgan
Mike has over 20 years of ICT, OA and CE channel sales and marketing management experience and is responsible for Relayware's global go-to-market strategy as well as the sales and marketing functions while overseeing the company's operations worldwide. Mike is recognized as one of the industry's leading experts in indirect go-to-market strategy best practice.


  1. This makes sense – as integrated solutions are gaining more recognition lately.

    And I don’t mean two separate applications that jive well, I mean one application that covers two areas, such as a combination of CRM and PM. If you look at WORKetc, this business management application combines CRM, PM, and billing into one.

    The perks come down to workflow, efficiency, avoiding integration issues, as well as avoiding high costs. When you manage your entire business under one system, this helps simplify the management process and saves users time. It also makes the business more effective from a customer standpoint – managing support tickets, securing clients as leads, and billing them, all from the same software helps make them feel like they’re going through less of a maze, not to mention it allows software users to have a detailed contact history, which is great for support.


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