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ChannelChat: On the Road to Channel Enablement, ARO Discovers Partner Relationship Management

Liz Cope, Global Marketing Lead, ARO

Soon after ARO, the fluid management division of Ingersoll Rand, kicked off a celebration of its 85th anniversary by revitalizing its brand, partner demand for the updated materials created an unexpected challenge. A new website was doing its duty to provide customers with the information they were seeking. But it didn’t give partners easy-access to the materials they wanted to support their own marketing activities.

In a recent conversation with CMR, Liz Cope, ARO’s global marketing lead, discussed how her search for a solution ended with her learning about something new – partner relationship management technology.

CMR – In a video, you mentioned that as you were doing your research, you came to understand what partner relationship management technology is. Was PRM new to you?

Liz Cope – I was a complete novice about PRM. I’m very familiar with CRM but I knew that traditional CRM was not going to meet my needs. Other business units inside Ingersoll Rand were looking at how to bring a cohesive experience to their partners too. I had heard and learned through my research the horror stories of trying to shoehorn a partner experience into a CRM and the significant headache in development and customization that was required.

My business just couldn’t afford the time that that would take. We couldn’t afford all of that customization and development.

CMR – How did you learn about PRM?

Liz Cope – I just started asking questions and that’s when I discovered Impartner. Because I really didn’t understand what PRM was, the Impartner team spent the time to talk me through what it is. I researched other PRM solutions as I learned about them. But what I like about Impartner was not only the holistic solution they offered, but the company’s mindset toward reinventing and revitalizing. When they shared their roadmap with me, I got a real sense from them that this was a company that was never satisfied and always was looking to bring the best solutions.

CMR – What were some of the most important features or capabilities you were looking for to support your partners?

Liz Cope – The very first and foremost thing I needed to create was a cohesive experience, the one-stop-shop, that single source of truth for my partners. At the time, we had probably more than five different places we were sending our partners to do business with us — everything from ordering assets, to accessing training, to getting their leads. They had all these different systems to access and different passwords for them.  “Who do I talk to for this password? Where do I go to get help logging in here?” It was a nightmare for them. They just weren’t going to do it, and I didn’t blame them. The number one thing for me was unify. I needed to unify.

After I found a way, after I discovered PRM and realized, “Okay, so I can unify,” then I started to look at, “What else can I do?” That’s where I started to really understand and get the education that I needed of what a PRM solution really could do. That’s where we were able to see lead management through opportunity, deal registration, locator, asset manager, event calendar, all of these things. It’s such a relief to my partners, but it all began with the unified experience for them first.

CMR – Implementing a solution that involves internal processes owned or managed by other teams can be difficult. Did you experience any pushback during your PRM implementation?

Liz Cope – As the marketing leader, we own lead management, demand generation, and we own all the assets, collateral and events. I would say in the beginning, 80% of the material going into the portal came from my team. The one group that I worked with very, very, very closely was our sales organization. Since they had been asking for a solution a long time, what I needed to do with them was socialize it, demo it, and just make sure they felt comfortable.

CMR – And what about your partners. Was it difficult to get adoption?

Liz Cope – We planned a fairly robust communication program. At regional conferences where we meet with our partners to tell them what we were doing, I had a lot of facetime with them so they knew it was coming.

Once it went live, the first quarter was essentially a beta to ensure that they were going and logging in and getting familiar with it.

Everybody liked the concept. They all felt that it definitely met the need. They recognized we were in an implementation, and that it would take some time to get it right. They also recognized that we were a team that was focused on listening and improving continuously, and so they gave us a lot of flexibility, and they were very patient.

CMR – Are you using the PRM solution to support through-partner marketing activities?

Liz Cope – I would say that we are in the early stages of that. We’re going to actually do that much more with some of our bigger partners. I’ll roll it out to them, get them familiar with the system before we make it a broader offering.

I was in Latin America at our partner conference and I asked, “How many of you have either a marketing team or a marketing resource in your business?” Off all of the partners there, only a handful raised their hands. It just tells me that I need to be thoughtful of what I’m launching out to them.

It also told me I need to do some discovery on how do I best give them through-partner marketing materials and tools because given the fact that they have limited resources, I don’t want to create something for them that’s just complicated.

But we do know that are our partners are interested in lending a hand with marketing. With our PRM’s asset manager capability, we’ve been offering partners co-branded advertising. This wasn’t a structured push. More like, “Here are some asset that are available for you to use.” But they’re using them, so it’s great.

CMR – Have you had to expand your asset library to meet partner demand?

Liz Cope – As part of our brand revitalization, we recognized that  most of our materials needed to be brought up to the new brand standard. But what we recognized was that now that our partners could easily access content, they were wanting more. So while we were in the middle of updating everything that we had, they were also asking for more examples, more case studies, more white papers, and more application examples.

Now partners know that if it’s not on the portal, they can make an easy request and we can get it done for them.

CMR – Has the implementation of the PRM met your expectations?

Liz Cope – We had a goal in 2017 to increase our lead pipeline, 30%, over 2016. I thought with the portal and its lead management capabilities, that we’d be able to do that.

But we exceeded our goal. Our lead pipeline jumped 194% — and that was over a healthy pipeline in 2016.

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