Elay Cohen remembers when many people thought sales representatives would never use a partner relationship management application. These days, the senior director of the PRM Division at Salesforce.com happily reports those naysayers were largely wrong.
As of Oct. 31, Salesforce.com, a San Francisco-based provider of CRM (customer relationship management) applications, managed customer information for 27,100 companies and 556,000 paid subscribers, company officials said.
Increasingly, businesses are using PRM applications to manage and support their channel partners. William Band, an analyst at Forrester Research, said the channel management and collaboration segment of the global consumer relations management software market—which includes both PRM and business-to-business e-commerce—is forecasted at about $1.4 billion for 2006. That number stood at $1.24 billion in 2003, and is predicted to increase to roughly $1.6 billion by 2010, he said.
The CRM SMB (small and midsize business) segment of the market is growing faster than the overall CRM market, Band said. "The SMB market accounts for 34 percent of the total in 2006, rising to 38 percent by 2010," he said. "I would expect the PRM segment to track this trend—in other words, increasing interest in PRM in the SMB market."
In addition to Salesforce.com, companies like Oracle have also entered the PRM space. But with its on-demand service, Cohen said Salesforce.com has plans to be a continued force in the market. The on-demand aspect gives customers access to PRM software while avoiding the costs associated with installing and maintaining it on their own, he added.
"Whenever we roll out new features, [every customer] gets it," Cohen said.
Among its customers is Segway, which designs light electric transportation devices and deployed Salesforce PRM earlier this year. Chris Gorglione, product manager at Segway, in Bedford, N.H., said the application has provided a clear view of sales in the channel.
Since Salesforce allows Segway to track the sales cycle from lead to sale, the company has been able to refine its efforts in order to maximize its resources and ensure the success of its channel organization, Gorglione said. Segway deployed Salesforce PRM to manage its complete partner program, including Partner portals that provide partners access to sales and marketing information and lead and campaign management. The company routes leads to the right partners based on geography—a move that has in increased sales, Gorglione said.
Segway also reportedly integrated its Salesforce solution with an existing Oracle enterprise resource planning system so the company can anticipate and plan for manufacturing demand.
"Ninety percent of our sales are facilitated by our channel partners, so it is very important to us that they are effective and meeting their targets," Gorglione said in a statement. "Salesforce provided an easily customizable solution that allowed us to get up and running quickly to share and track sales leads between our organization and all of our channel partners."
Those partners have largely embraced the Salesforce PRM solution, Gorglione said.
"With these benefits, we now have visibility into the sales cycle and have been able to identify which lead-generating programs deliver the best return so we can focus our marketing and sales efforts accordingly," he said in the statement.