An introduction to Channels-as-a-Service (CaaS) solutions brought to you by The VAR-Cloud, a division of The VAR-City
For more than a decade The VAR-City has been researching and evaluating Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software for our clients. When we began our quest for the ultimate PRM solution there were few true SaaS offerings and a smattering of kludgy ASP versions of the Enterprise parent.
We took a close look at all of the leading PRM applications, portal variations and open source CRM software with plenty of willing expert developers who promised to make it hum any tune we wished. We looked at industry leading bare bones CMS solutions with catalogs full of social media add-ons that we could deploy and a curious assortment of other PRMish tools. Sorry Goldilocks, nothing was “just right” for this audience and anything affordably Cloudlike was still over the sight horizon. Too much cost, too much risk – no discernible ROI here.
Our clients then and now, were/are not interested in big ticket on-premises software or the trials of adding untested complications with customized non-purpose built software to the already complicated matter of building a new reseller channel.
Faced with these options the choices were thin and ranged from tweaking their current CRM (what a nightmare) to engaging in amazing spreadsheet gymnastics.
It should be said that there are some very good PRM solutions in the marketplace today who have been serving the mega-channel demands of our leading IT ISVs for years; but, they’re not necessarily the right choice for the up-and-comers, the new guys on the block with limited resources and no partners or pipeline to offset a significant PRM investment. And, that was a deep concern to us because that’s where we live.
Our research tapered off for a couple of years during which time we engaged in several efforts that included the incumbent CRM modified to add PRM elements. New fields and partner related logic was shoehorned in and we limped along never achieving the full desired effect. Improvements and change requests were always placed well behind “more urgent needs” resulting in more disdain for the solution mashup than accolades.
But, we endured. About this time, 4-5 years ago, native SaaS solutions began to appear and new hope rose on the channel horizon. Of particular interest was the on-demand capability; no big servers to purchase and maintain, no added burden to the IT folks, pay-as-you-go – a lot of promise here.
Has PRM finally come to those most in need, the emerging technologies and infant companies with a great product set but short on funding.
It was this group we had in mind as we reignited our search for tools that allowed them to do more with less and keep their eye on growing a partner community, while not becoming administrative slaves to the tool.
Our search and evaluation criterion was framed by these commonalities (our typical client profile):
- Passed the “Channels Viable” test for product and other considerations (Channels Readiness Quiz can be found in our (Downloads Locker)
- Executives had a Channel vision for the company with little to zero partner program design or management experience
- Self or limited funding – multi-hat wearing executive infrastructure
- Small or undefined channel development budget
- No current partners, no forecast or pipeline
One important piece was still missing
At the top of our interview list of questions we asked was – “How do you manage new partner prospecting and recruiting?” In every case there was a pause, then we either heard about workarounds, maybe sometime in the future, or a simple and quick – “No, we don’t offer that. “
It always puzzled me, where do these people think new partners come from? How do you build a channel without successful prospecting? Shouldn’t this be, at least, an add-on option for those starting off with no partners?
Since our client’s growth and survival rests on acquiring energized revenue producing partners we could not overlook this omission, and continued our research; yet, happy in knowing that we were finally on the right track because we had removed one of the biggest cost obstacles without compromising on features and functionality.
We also wanted a PRM that could easily integrate out-of-the-box with the leading CRMs so we could pass data between them, such as, registered opportunities and partner profiles for matching partners with direct sales and end-user customer needs.
Onboarding processes, online training-certification workflows and comprehensive marketing tools would nicely round out the offering.
Add, an affordable pay-as-you-grow SaaS delivery business model and you have ChannelPlace, our recommendation for ISVs looking for a “just right” PRM tool that will become the most productive partner in your channel ecosystem.
The VAR-City, through our new business unit, The VAR-Cloud, is proud to announce that ChannelPlace will be the first of many channel-centric SaaS tools that we’ll be delivering as Channels-as-a-Service (CaaS).
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