Stop Using CRM to Manage Your Channel Partner Relationships

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software has long been considered one of those must-have applications to help businesses sell to customers. After all, it’s a billion dollar industry that’s as ubiquitous in sales departments today as telephones and rolodexes were of yesteryear.  Yet, CRM’s usefulness as a revenue optimization tool has its limitations. In particular, as an effective tool in managing channel relationships.

If your goal is to maximize every opportunity to close more deals, a CRM will leave — or perhaps has already left you — wanting more.

That’s because CRMs are a horizontal approach to sales automation designed for use in a conventional direct sales business model. Its shortcomings become glaringly transparent when trying to force CRM features and functions into an indirect sales environment.

Unique requirements of channel sales & marketing

A CRM system overlooks the unique requirements of channel sales and marketing, offering very little to help a channel partner track opportunities, provide visibility to their partners, and convert more leads to sales.


Channel engagement is a multi-tiered process comprised of numerous processes, from partner recruitment and engagement to enablement and management, none of which are directly addressed by current CRM systems. CRMs are great for managing contacts and providing a snapshot of sales and marketing activity—assuming all the information has been captured —but they aren’t compatible with the dynamic, multi-tenant environment of the channel.

Effective channel enablement requires real-time lead sharing, training and education, and proactive engagement.

Purpose built for optimizing Channel Relationships

In lieu of trying to make a solution work in an environment for which is was not designed, organizations selling via the channel should consider a software platform purpose-built for channel revenue optimization — ideally one that integrates a comprehensive range of channel management functions in a single, easy-to-use interface.For companies that sell through both direct and indirect channels or prefer the CRM to remain the system of record for the business, you can integrate a channel solution with a resident CRM system, enabling a single, unified view of both selling activities.

As you consider your options, look for an intuitive solution that allows you and channel partners to easily capture, organize, track, pursue, and close leads. It should connect and unify all manufacturer relationships in one view, and enable opportunity tracking and visibility to the right players in real-time.

The difference between a CRM and a channel revenue optimization system is that the latter approach actually improves channel sales. Quite simply, the proof is in the results. Companies that implement a tool purpose-built for channel revenue optimization experience double the conversion rates of those who do not.