Customer relationship management (CRM) is vital to a successful business. In order to generate revenue and have an ease in conducting business, you need to have a better customer relationship. It makes good business sense to use technology to improve CRM.

Even though Partner Relationship Management (PRM) applications have been around for 18 years, they have yet to take hold in the market. Over the same period, small and large companies across every industry increasingly invested in CRM. One-third of the world’s business is generated by third-party sellers, yet the PRM category doesn’t seem like it has grown or even kept pace with CRM.

But PRM has grown, though its growth is not visible.

Through the creation of custom portals, most businesses bring together isolated processes such as ordering, lead distribution, and training that are connected to various systems and data sources. Niche PRM vendors have tried to create solutions for partners but they haven’t gained traction as they don’t consider partners as part of a broader CRM strategy.

To properly collaborate your overall CRM strategy and partner channel, you need to first learn what the similarities between CRM and PRM are and what makes them different.


  • Infrastructure – Both PRMor CRM employ three-tier architecture; database layer, application layer and web presentation layer tending to run on a SaaS infrastructure.
  • Framework – Both systems have core platforms which house records. PRM has records of partners and CRM has record of end users. Additional applications can be added to both the frameworks as well.
  • Records – At the core level, both the records structures are pretty identical with fields for things like; contact name, title, company name and address.
  • System – Through a logical workflow system, both CRM and PRM can automate various internal activities like; pipeline review, price authorization, training, incentives, etc.
  • BI – CRM and PRM have a very important area of similarity; analytics. By running analytics, they can optimize their automated processes through identification of what works and what doesn’t.


  • Different Functionality

CRM – The systems are set up for direct sales teams to prospect, sell and grow existing end-customer accounts.

PRM – The systems structure, workflow, applications are designed for partner network management.

  • Different Pricing

CRM – These solutions are sold along with per-user, seat-based licensing as it is easier to predict utilization rates.

PRM – Predicting utilization rates in a PRM system is almost impossible and so it is essential to procure PRM license for unlimited use. This eliminates unnecessary risks.

  • Different Support Systems

CRM – These systems tend to only support the product and have very little domain-specific knowledge.

PRM – Through an integrated multi-touch channel marketing solution, PRM can provide custom made global support systems that ensure deployment, adoption and utilization.

  • Different Integrated Solutions

CRM – As one of the most horizontal products, the CRM market has grown nearly to the $30 billion level. Once deployed, major workflow customizations is required which adds a lot of expense and complexity to your CRM.

PRM – They are purpose built solutions that come with all the applications necessary for managing partner relationships. As a consequence of this, PRMs tend to be easy to use and the rates of deployment and partner adoption occur faster.

  • Different TCO

CRM – The total cost of ownership for a CRM program encompasses both indirect and direct costs resulting in a high TCO.

PRM – With low licensing costs, integrated purpose-built application suite and a global support that drives adoption, PRM has a lower total cost of ownership across a larger partner user base.

With these differences and similarities, PRM and CRM initiatives work best when information from both are combined. This will give a company a more global view of the entire sales channel while still enjoying the benefits that each system provides.  Almost universally accepted as the best tool for managing direct sales, CRM was never created for the purpose of managing channel partners.

There is no need for a company to make a choice between PRM and CRM as both can co-exist. Smart businesses will integrate both principles into one plan which will increase efficiency and long-term profit generation.

The whole CRM and PRM process can become almost a cycle.

  • Purchase encouraged by CRM
  • Continued transactions encouraged by PRM
  • Confirmation of customer contact details by PRM
  • Continuation of CRM

PRMs and CRMs integrate at these key points to get the best results:

  • Registration and approval of leads. When a lead is registered in a channel partners CRM, the manufacturer receives the information and can approve or reject it. This helps in avoiding channel conflict by allowing channel partners to “own” their leads.
  • Distribution of leads. When a vendor becomes aware of an opportunity and needs to pass it on as a lead to an appropriate reseller, A PRM-CRM combination system will help.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here