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I'm curious about how SFDC is recommended or typically implemented as a PRM system. Do customers typically use the Sales Cloud product, and implement each partner as an Account, or is each partner user just a special user type, or are there totally different objects to manage partner companies and partner users?

A little context here - if I wanted to build an integration that would pull partner data from SFDC (the company name, metadata about the relationship like partner level, and the users that belong to that partner), what objects would I need to query?

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In the standared, advised way in salsforce partners are indeed accounts. You can create hierarchies and add contacts under these accounts. This does not yet enable them to access salesforce. If you want that you can use a partner community, after which you can enable partner contacts as partner community users.

That will create a user, which's contactId field is the partner contact record.

Partner community comes with several user license types/profile possibilities, and a limited role hierarchy.

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