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After many long months of full lockdown, multiple waves of COVID-19, and economic recession, the end of the crisis is hopefully in sight. The vaccination ball is rolling, businesses are opening up, and people start feeling secure enough to come back to their usual routines. What does this mean for the UK’s economy as a whole?
The Effects of COVID-19 On Medium and Small Businesses in the UK
While the health crisis of 2020 was hard for everybody, small and medium businesses took most of the beating. The COVID-19 pandemic struck them on both the supply and the demand sides. According to the Facebook/ OECD/ World Bank Future of Business Survey, among SMEs that remained open from May to December 2020, between 55-70% saw sales fall, with two-thirds experiencing falls of more than 40%. Though the government swiftly took measures to soften the blow, its support was not enough. Entrepreneurs had to take the situation into their own hands.
According to the recent study by OFX, nearly half of the small and medium businesses in the United Kingdom invest more in marketing and sales in high hopes to emerge even stronger after the lockdown. One of the key ways how they plan to do it is to expand the digitalization efforts. Introducing new digital tools and updating the existing ones is the number one priority for 50% of the SMEs in the OECD countries.
Partner and customer management in particular are the areas that are getting automated often. According to our recent surveys conducted across multiple industries, most businesses realize the vital role of automation in their internal processes. Although, it is worth noting that PRM and CRM for small and medium businesses have many distinctive nuances compared to such software for enterprises.
Why Partner Management Is Important for SMEs
Partner management software (or partner relationship management or PRM for short) provides businesses with the means to track sales partners and affiliates and facilitate trade and communication among them. It usually gives access to documents, campaign materials, market development funds (MDF), opportunities and deals for each of the participants. Depending on the industry specifics, it should track other details such as regulatory compliance (in iGaming), contractual terms and conditions (for municipal service providers), or incentive and loyalty rewards.
Business of any size that deals with multiple third-party vendors or contractors can benefit from using partner management solutions. Managers can spend less time on redundant tasks and focus on keeping partners happy. It is especially crucial during the post-crisis times when collaboration and transparent communication are the necessary elements for building a resilient ecosystem of SMEs that uphold each other. By partnering effectively, companies can achieve more in a shorter period of time.
How to Choose Partner Management Software for Your Business
Picking the right solution is never easy; however, there are a couple of steps that one should take in order to make it work:
- Look at your company’s goals and unique features, so you’ll know what to focus on.
- Think about your most common business relationships and routine workflows. It will give you an idea of what actions can be streamlined.
- Check out the list of the best SMB partner relationship management (PRM) software and get to know the specifics of each solution.
- See which one aligns with your goals and needs.
MaxBill has worked with companies of all sizes and with different business models. We watched smaller companies grow and expand beyond what they considered possible initially. In our experience, the most popular capabilities of the PRM solution for small to medium businesses include:
- A portal for communication and informational exchange between a company and its partners;
- The tools to conduct fast and efficient onboarding, training, and certification of partners;
- Performance analysing and reporting system;
- The billing and revenue management solution with settlements being accepted in relevant currencies;
- The ability to integrate with a wide variety of third-party systems and applications;
- The means to create, personalize and analyse the results of the marketing and sales campaigns.
The above list can, of course, just give you an idea of the general practices on the market. While choosing a solution for yourself, consider what you need and don’t necessarily stick to the most common features.
There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic hit small and medium businesses hard. They represent the majority of the industries that suffered from the lockdown measures. They were also the most vulnerable to the value chain disruptions, as most often SMEs have a single stream of provisioning. Even despite the UK government’s financial and tax support, losses in revenue were tremendous and unemployment rates soared.
However, business owners stay optimistic about emerging even stronger after the crisis once the population vaccinates and most places reopen. They say they have learned some lessons and will put effort to improve their strategy and be ready for similar challenges. Almost half of SMBs digitally transform in one way or another. Partner management in particular is one of the areas that are being enhanced by the technology, as more and more small and medium businesses adopt some kind of PRM software.
The partner management solutions for SMEs differ from those developed for large enterprises. One should be careful when choosing one for their company because collaborating, expanding partner ecosystem, and keeping its participants happy is crucial in the post-COVID era. MaxBill has a vast experience in delivering the solution for all kinds of businesses across multiple verticals. Our team of professionals uses best practices from one industry to offer improvements in another. As clients and partners are our priority, we are always happy to help businesses find the partner management solution that suits their needs best.
That is why if you still have any questions left after reading this article — don’t hesitate to contact us and learn about the possibility of setting up a proper PRM for your company.