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Relayware Partner Relationship Management

The Forrester Wave, and the Way Forward

Posted on November 25, 2013 by Chris Bucholtz

When I tell people I’ve joined the team at Relayware, I get a lot of questions. The first is, “why did you leave the world of CRM?” That’s the technology I’m most associated with, having worked as the founding editor of Inside CRM and Forecasting Clouds, as a columnist at CRM Buyer, and as the editor-in-chief at SugarCRM.

The answer? I’m not leaving the world of CRM – I’m stepping up the game a bit. Both CRM and partner management solutions are focused on the same things – managing customer data to find more customers and enhance loyalty. But PRM – partner relationship management – takes these ideas to the next level, adding the management of programs and processes that add in concrete ways to the effectiveness of companies that sell through the channel. I liked Relayware best out of all the providers in the space because the entirety of the reseller-vendor relationship is included in the application. In a lot of ways, what Relayware is doing should serve as a model for CRM vendors.

Also, way back in my past, I was the technology editor at VARBusiness, where I met many resellers, dealers and integrators. These are people whose lives are already complicated; adding value to their users demands much of their energy. They don’t have energy left for the management of the relationship with their vendors – they want vendors that are easy to do business with. Creating that experience for the resellers should be the vendor’s responsibility. And a vendor with significant channel presence can’t scale its end of the relationship without tools built for those unique requirements.

Another task I had in the recent past was that of analyst relations, an interesting and very specialized role that calls for talents as a gatekeeper, a diplomat and a journalist. In that role, I participated in something Relayware just completed: the process of working with Forrester Research on one of its Wave reports.

The Forrester Wave process starts months out with a questionnaire. This set of questions can be immense; the SFA Wave questionnaire had more than 500 lines of questions the vendors participating in the process were required to complete. The questions cover features, company strategy, and the depth of the product. It necessitated the participation of people from across the company, each taking a section of questions that pertained to their specialty in engineering, marketing, customer support and other areas.

That’s followed up by conversations between executives and the analysts, and a final review of the report to ensure its accuracy.

Some companies decline to participate in the Wave process, because the deep probing of the questions can reveal holes and blind spots in their products. Appearing as a trailing player in the Wave is seen as worse than not being in the Wave at all.

However, when products and strategies are aligned properly, the deep dive by the Forrester analysts rewards businesses and gives the market an honest and compelling look at its best options for business technology.

Just today, the Forrester Wave for PRM Platforms, Q4 2013 came out. You can see it here http://www.relayware.com/wave-prm-2013/?utm_source=website&utm_medium=homepage+banner&utm_campaign=wave-prm-2013 - a careful examination shows that while there no leaders in the space, Relayware is strongest overall, performing best in aggregate between the metrics of strength of current offering and strategy.

Knowing what goes into the Wave makes me appreciate this accomplishment even more. In order to take a spot closest to the upper right corner, Relayware needed to not only put out the best possible product, but it had to articulate the reasons for its approach and explain how its strategy mapped to the needs of companies selling through the channel. There’s an understanding that it’s not enough to build the tools and explain how to use them – you need to tell the story of why they’re needed and why they’re arranged as they are.

That’s why I came to Relayware – as director of content marketing, I get the chance to help educate people about how the problems that befall channel relationships, the practical and pragmatic ways of fixing them, and how those fixes pay off. We have a lot of stories to tell you – and if there’s anything you’d like to learn, email me at chris.bucholtz@relayware.com.