The Shark Tank: BlueRoads Refines Lead Management

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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TPRM isn't dead it just needed a jump start, says BlueRoads.

Even as analysts have declared partner relationship management platforms a dead technology over the last year, BlueRoads, a provider of such a platform, has worked even harder to prove the value of its software – upgrading the platform four times over that time period.

"It wasn't that PRM was dead," said Shinya Akamine, CEO of BlueRoads. "What they were declaring as dead was the process of efficiency in the channel."

Discussions with the analysts revealed that they meant that once a partner database is built, 90 percent of the work has been done and you are unlikely to generate much more revenue from that, according to Akamine.

But executives at BlueRoads are inclined to disagree.

"Our partners are improving opportunities and sales cycles and are closing deals by working with partners more effectively," he said. "We coined the term 'partner opportunity management.'"

What that is, in the new release of BlueRoads, is a lead management system designed to find the best partners for various leads. Blueroads has signed up companies such as Avaya and Juniper Networks because the true value of working those leads comes when vendor companies get to between $200 million and $250 million in revenues and begin to find their partner programs becoming less efficient.

Avaya has been working with the recently released BlueRoads lead management component, SharkTank, for about 18 months.

"We used it to push leads and assign business to partners, but we got very little feedback from them," said Dennis Head, the director of North American integrated marketing at Avaya.

"When we went to SharkTank the whole concept there is that people compete for leads," he said. "We found that our response and closed loop tracking is much better."

The system lets the vendor set the criteria for business partners by the type of lead. So partners would be qualified by their geography, their certifications and other vendor-set fields to determine whether they would be on the list to receive a lead.

Then it's first come, first served. The first qualified partner who grabs the lead has the right to work the lead for a set period of time determined by the vendor. As that lead sits with the business partner, that partner is required to provide updates to the vendor on the deal's progress. Partners who do well may have their lead limit number increased. Partners that let the leads languish may be suspended from Avaya's partner program for a period of 60 days.

But according to Head those partners usually come back much hungrier after that cooling off period.

"Avaya does a really high quality lead," said Head. "If you take that lead away, that's a really big deal."

But Head warned that BlueRoads, like any similar system, requires the vendor to do a good job of managing the lead process.

"You can't just put it in and assume it will take care of your problems," Head said.

"In the first six months we used it, 90 percent of our leads weren't getting worked properly. Then once we put this management process in place 80 percent were being worked properly," he said.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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