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Emergence Capital Invests in PRM leader Impartner

CRM doesn’t work for an indirect sales channel. I didn’t really believe it at first. But then I talked to half a dozen channel sales executives who had tried to configure for their channel teams. The first problem they found was that is used (and charges) on a per user basis. That’s fine for a direct sales team or a single VAR with 5 employees, but for a global partner network with hundreds of partners and thousands of employees, that’s a nightmare. Every user needs to be configured with credentials, permissions and often training. The standard objects don’t apply when each partner sales team is organized differently. Then, they realize the per-user licensing costs and ongoing support costs are prohibitive.

Many of these channel managers told me that they don’t have visibility into their partners’ pipelines. They don’t know which salespeople are effective or which forecasts to believe. They are often blindsided at the end of quarter, and then struggle to piece together data to understand why. These are the same problems that many direct sales managers had before CRM was widely adopted.

In many industries, indirect sales account for a majority of revenue, yet channel managers use spreadsheets and DIY databases to manage their complex web of data. In most companies, the direct sales teams have the resources they need, and the indirect team gets “what’s left.” Companies that want to build a reliable indirect channel need a tool specific to job of channel revenue management. Partner Relationship Management, or “PRM,” has been around for more than 20 years, but has never produced a large public company. Many providers serve niche markets with point solutions, such as content management, loyalty and promotions, and partner compensation management.

Not long ago, I was surprised to learn that three Emergence portfolio companies were buying a PRM solution and all of them had selected Impartner, a Utah-based provider of cloud PRM. I guess its not surprising that these companies are all high growth B2B cloud providers who have been successful expanding distribution through a network of resellers. Each company did their own evaluation, and in each case, Impartner won by a clear margin. Impartner customers have seen a 30% increase of channel sales on average after adopting Impartner. It seems obvious, but channel managers typically spend a lot of time on the phone answering questions. With Impartner, partners see all of their information online, and channel managers spend their time cultivating additional channel partners.

When I met Joe Wang, CEO of Impartner, it was clear that he had a plan to make PRM as common as CRM. Impartner’s product is a broad, modular suite that can be configured to the channel practices of virtually any industry. With CRM proven among technology users and now penetrating other industries, such as manufacturing, telecom and energy, more companies from these industries understand the benefits of CRM and PRM, and they are finding Imparter’s solution.

With exploding growth, Joe has assembled an seasoned team and focused them on key elements of market leadership: a scalable, multi-tenant architecture, sustained customer success, efficient deployment and a scalable sales process. Emergence invests in cloud solution providers and helps them become the market leaders of their category. We are pleased to announce our investment in Impartner.