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Partnering Strategy
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Why Your PRM or Partner Portal Won’t Cut It

Nitika Rawat

We all know too well that customers' behavior constantly shifts with technology. The rate at which your business adapts to this change directly impacts your opportunity to grow. So, you need to offer agile solutions to your customers to keep up with the market competition. The best way to do this is by collaborating with your ecosystem partners to bring out solutions that meet and exceed your customers' changing demands.  In one of our Ecosystem Aces podcasts, Rob Sparno (Head of Strategic Alliance - North America at Sage) mentioned that Speed is the new currency in Ecosystems. To maximize revenue from channel sales, you need to ensure active collaboration across company boundaries. By raising and nurturing your business with your ecosystem partners, you can offer a holistic customer experience throughout their lifecycle and ensure robust business growth.Maximizing your partnerships and unleashing the opportunities to boost your co-sell revenue with ecosystem partners means upgrading to an ecosystem management platform for better channel management. Your PRM and partner portal solutions implemented over the years can't handle the new co-sell motions.

Featured Read: Ecosystem Cloud: The Next Frontier

Why are Partner Relationship Management (PRM) Tools Outdated?

Your PRM tools and partner portals are not the best choices to manage partnerships with your ecosystem partners. With a partner portal, your company is missing out on all the opportunities and potential revenue created by active partner collaboration and co-solutioning. We give you 4 points to explain why:

  • PRM Tools were Designed for ResellingPartner portals were designed to manage your channel sales through your reseller partnerships. They don’t facilitate collaboration with multiple partners to close co-sell deals. So, using them for co-sell motions won’t help you track and measure your co-sell opportunities with your ecosystem partners as they don’t support joint activities. It’s likely that, if you ask your partner managers handling co-sell deals, they are tracking everything in spreadsheets - not in your PRM.
  • PRM Tools Don’t Support Co-sell Deal StatesWhen dealing with your reseller partners on a PRM platform, each opportunity has one stage, one deal size, one outcome (win/loss). However, in a co-sell motion, each of your co-sell partners has their own product or service they’re selling, with its own sales stage, deal size, deal outcome. A co-sell opportunity can have a win-win, win-loss, loss-win, or loss-loss effect for you & your co-sell partners. So, this means that partner portals can’t handle the operations and functionalities needed to manage your co-sell deals.
  • PRM Tools Align with Reseller Partners, not Co-sellersYour reseller channel relationships (distributors, resellers, VARs, etc) can be easily managed using PRM platforms. However, today, more and more partnering is done with your  co-sell partners (cloud partners, software partners, hardware partners, services partners, MSPs, etc.) Those partner motions require a purpose-built platform (EBM platform) to manage co-selling motions.
  • PRM Tools don’t support Co-sell Incentive EventsThe incentive events of deals with your reseller partners (deal registration on wins and certification activities) are different from those with your co-sell ecosystem partners (deal referral; co-sell activities like POCs, Account Planning; Co-build & Co-marketing activities). So, using partner portals for co-sell motions won’t help you track important incentive events and their metrics to reward your ecosystem partners.
“WorkSpan is a platform that encourages our partners to  connect with each other and let the magic happen.”~ Daniel Rippey (Director of Engineering - One Commercial Partner at Microsoft)

Ecosystem Business Management Platforms: The Next-Gen PRM tools

An Ecosystem Business Management (EBM) platform is the new way of managing your ecosystem partners in today's world of cloud computing and speed of innovation, where co-selling with your partners is taking over. With an EBM platform, you can easily share information, collaborate on co-innovation projects, joint account planning, manage a joint pipeline of co-sell opportunities, and more with your ecosystem partners. Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and other industry analysts have recognized this new category of the solution - and IDC has defined the key requirements for Ecosystem Business Management platforms.

Related Blog: Partner Co-Selling: Gain the Edge with Modern Ecosystems

An effective EBM platform can enable you to :

  • Connect your and your partners' Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems on a shared network for secure visibility of data between partners.
  • Focus on driving your co-sell revenue by enabling collaborative selling between your ecosystem partners.
  • Work together as peers with your top co-selling partners, ensuring a win-win for both sides.

Gain Visibility of Your Partners' CRM Systems

CRMs will always be a critical tool for managing your own company's direct sales and opportunities. But if your CRM is not connected to your partners’ CRMs, they don’t let your partner teams collaborate.Your CRM helps you track the deal size and SKUs of opportunities from your catalog of solutions. But for joint opportunities with partners, your CRM is incapable of monitoring what’s happening with your partner’s side of the transaction that may have different deal sizes and different SKUs from your partners’ catalogs. The same is true for your PRM portals. While CRMs are powerful tools for managing your own sales team, they were never designed to enable co-selling with your ecosystem partners. With WorkSpan, you can seamlessly align your CRM data (like joint accounts, plans, and opportunities) with your partners' CRM data. This allows each company to keep its independent systems in place, including separate SKUs, deal sizes, and owners. With frictionless data interoperability, WorkSpan dramatically improves your ability to manage co-selling with your partners.

EBM platform connects CRM tools

Figure 1: An EBM platform like WorkSpan connects your and your partners' CRM tools -  With EBM tools, you can work on a shared network for secure data visibility and easy work collaboration with your co-sell partners.

Focus on Driving Your Co-sell Revenue

PRMs were built to support a large number of small transaction reseller partners. But we all know that your top partners are driving 80 to 90 percent of your revenue - and most of that is co-selling! If you ask partner managers for your top partners, they will tell you that they don’t use PRM to manage their partner business. Let that sink in. Your partner teams are bypassing your PRM and using spreadsheets to manage their opportunities with your most impactful and profitable ecosystem partners.

screenshot 2021 08 04 at 10.54.02 am

Figure 2: Your top partners drive 90% of your partner revenue (most are co-selling and not reselling) - PRM tools were designed to manage large numbers of small reseller partners. So, partner managers running your top partners are using spreadsheets to manage their business.Partner PRM portals are built to support your long-tail (smaller) partners looking to download marketing materials and register and get credit for resale deals. Partner portals are not architected to support peer relationships with your top partners, share opportunities securely, collaborate on those opportunities, and work together to close business.Co-selling with your top partners is the key to supercharging your channel management. Yet your partner managers will suffer without modern digital tools to be effective. And since everything is on spreadsheets, partner leaders have zero visibility into what's happening in their business. Partner leadership is flying blind.With WorkSpan, you develop stronger relationships with the partners that drive the most revenue for your company, manage those relationships, and deliver instant reporting to update what's happening in your business and where to prioritize your investments.

Featured Blog: Partner Co-Selling - How to Drive More Revenue with Your Ecosystem Partners?

Work Together as Peers with Your Ecosystem Partners

Partner portals are designed to be one-directional where one partner hosts the portal, owns all the data, owns the security rights, and everyone else must log in to upload and access information. That is NOT how you partner with your top ecosystem partners.


Figure 3: PRM platforms don't enable P2P partner collaboration, but EBM platforms do - An EBM platform serves as a common ground where your company and multiple partners can come together as peers and collaborate securely on joint opportunities to drive channel sales together.

Moving Beyond PRM Tools: The Only Way to Scale Modern Ecosystem

An Ecosystem Business Management platform allows you to put your customers in the forefront, enabling you to co-build and innovate solutions with your ecosystem partners in new ways. Stand behind and encourage your partner managers or your partner leadership team by empowering them with EBM platforms like WorkSpan. The time is now to think beyond PRM and partner portals and modernize your partner co-sell business and boost your channel sales with better channel management!

Related Read: How Ecosystems Integrations Transform Partner Programs: An SAP Use Case

Want to explore and manage your co-sell motions with your ecosystem partners?We are here to help! Let us know who you are, and a co-sell specialist will reach out to help. Looking forward to helping you grow your partner revenue with your ecosystem partners![hubspot type=form portal=4417116 id=420a97cb-d15f-4f53-bae9-fb9d03b6453f]

About Nitika Rawat

Nitika manages content marketing at Workspan. As a content marketer, she loves ideating, innovating, and creating all sorts of valuable content to help partner leaders grow in their business ecosystems. When not at her work desk, she can be found either enjoying a good non-fiction read or training her two adorable pups. She lives in Pauri, a hill station at the foothills of the Himalayas in India.

Ecosystem Business Management — Principles and Best Practices

We’ve developed a 49-page eBook on the emerging category of Ecosystem Business Management to share learnings from our customers and how to apply best practices successfully in your organization.

  1. IDC says by 2024, those who adopt an ecosystem business model will grow 50% faster than companies that do not.
  2. Accenture’s survey showed 76% of business leaders agree ecosystems will be the catalyst to drive dramatic changes in business models over the next 5 years.
  3. Forrester says ecosystem growth requires automation.

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