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Tools Track Customers, Boost Sales

Partnerware gives businesses real-time views of customers and their reseller interactions.
Industries that rely on indirect sales channels to bolster revenue are turning to partner-relationship management software to manage the channel and better understand customers. Partnerware Inc. last week unveiled a new version of its Insight PRM software suite, real-time channel-management tools that give businesses comprehensive views of customers and their interactions with channel partners.

Partnerware had been selling the suite as a hosted offering but now says customers should integrate it with CRM and supply-chain management applications to provide an overall view of customer orders, service contracts, channel-partner data on existing customers, and the sales-lead cycle. Partnerware is moving its seven customers to the in-house version.

"The better managed your channel is, the more collaboration there is between the channel partners and the vendor," says Fern Halper, partner for analyst firm Baroudi Group. "The end result has to be better for the customer." Privacy isn't a big concern with the suite, she says, because channel partners and manufacturers have been successfully sharing this type of data manually for years.

ChartLion Apparel, a Dayton, Ohio, company that provides uniforms to law-enforcement and fire departments, is deploying Insight PRM. Sales partners issue requests-for-proposal to Lion Apparel for jobs they're quoting. The company decided to implement Insight PRM to better track those sales partners, says Young McCracken, Lion Apparel's eBusiness manager. The software will be installed within three months, and Partnerware expects Lion Apparel to increase revenue by at least 10%.

ChannelWave Software Inc., a Partnerware competitor, recently shipped ChannelWave 5.0, which provides functionality that's similar to Insight PRM's but with a heavier focus on E-commerce. ChannelWave 5.0 provides enhanced sales tools, as well as training and marketing programs that can be distributed via an extranet to sales partners.

Pricing for Partnerware's Insight suite starts at $100,000, while ChannelWave 5.0 begins at $200,000.