In today’s age of digital transformation, it is likely that your organization has already deployed partner portal software to automate its engagement process with its partners.
Let’s be honest, sometimes they resemble a scene from Shallow Hal. Pretty on the outside, not that great on the inside. If company taglines on their partner portal login page were being honest, they might say something like “Outdated content, complex deal registration process and broken links everywhere”. The Result – both partners and vendors are frustrated when the partner portal doesn’t deliver the return on the investment.
It is nothing less than a nightmare!
What if we took a different approach? What would a next-generation partner portal look like?
A partner portal is a well-designed digital solution that is configured to properly represent your brand and aims to deliver a streamlined flow of information to your partners at a price point that scales, as your program grows. A partner portal provides a complete digital experience to monitor the results and communicate accordingly.
It is through a well-defined, configured portal that all the flow of information can be tracked, and more importantly, measured over time. A well-structured portal gives partners the ability to fetch information about your new products, service launches, changes to pricing structures, marketing resources, and real-time sales details.
A quick google search reveals more vendors than ever competing to be your partner portal solution of choice. With the changing times, there are so many options today for vendors to choose from, it makes picking and choosing very difficult. These problems didn’t even exist a few years ago. As the face of your partner program, picking a partner portal solution that becomes a catalyst for your growing program will be key to your success.
While we talk about how a well-defined partner portal can contribute to your business in different ways, here are some of the features that a portal must have
Curious what you should be looking for as you evaluate a partner portal solution?
1. Layer in your tech stack vs all-in-one:
There are two different approaches to partner portal solutions being provided by vendors today. Based upon what your current tech stack looks like, this might help the PRM decision even easier.
Let’s say your organization already has a Learning Management Solution (LMS), and maybe a Content Management Solution (CMS) and maybe Youtube account with all your videos and maybe a demo system. Does this sound like you?
If so, chances are you are NOT going to want to manage content in multiple places because then version control becomes a nightmare. If managing two versions of every PDF and keeping track of when each one was updated in which solution sounds fun, then more power to you. If that sounds worse than nails on a chalkboard, then definitely be on the lookout for a partner portal solution that offers flexible SSO and I-Frame options, allowing you to integrate your existing tools into theirs without sacrificing partner experience.
2. Remove barriers, don’t create them!
The Goal of a Partner Portal is to enhance the overall experience of partners, allowing them to engage with your organization when they need to, as quickly as they need to. But this might not be as straightforward as it might sound. Sometimes (more often than we care to admit having witnessed) partner portals become a maze of broken links, password-protected pages, and gated content. Here are few things that can be considered for a hassle-free portal:
Keeping your portal simple to navigate is a great way to attract your partner’s attention. Categorizing your partner portal with simplified terms and language that your partners use makes gaining familiarity with your portal a no-brainer.
Why restrict access to the portal when you can keep it accessible for partners when they are standing in line at Starbucks? A mobile-compatible portal is a win-win for partners to access anytime, and a must-have to compete in today’s world. Bonus points if your solution allows partners to update deals without even having to login in.
Think about the applications you use every day. Email, social media sites, news websites. The things we use every day are personalized to our preferences. The more you can help your partners feel like their experience is unique to them, the greater your chance they come back for more.
3. Be honest with yourself:
The average B2B VAR in the United States works with 40+ different vendors. CDW, the largest Reseller in the US works with 2,000+. For organizations looking to gain small amounts of mindshare traction, keep the basics in mind. Why would a partner log in to your portal?
1. Register a deal
2. Access pricing information
3. Check out current SPIFFS and a distant
4. Look for marketing collateral
If you are making one through three hard, you are doing it wrong. Partner Portal solutions should enable your organization to clearly draw attention and behavior to the most important items partners care about.
4. Time to Multi-Thread
Nothing is worse than being a Channel Manager, trying to get an update on a deal at the end of the quarter only to find out that the person who submitted the registration 60 days ago works a deal desk, your sales rep was fired, and no one updated the opportunity record with the name of the Sales Engineer working the deal.
As part of your partner portal, a key requirement of the deal registration component should absolutely be the ability for partners to add multiple points of contact within their organization who can help move the needle on a deal. If your deal registration system only allows for one first name and last name, you have a massive hole in your channel revenue data.
5. CRM vs PRM – what is your source of truth?
A portal is created to optimize the overall process and make it easy for partners to access the information your organization is providing. They review the portal with a specific purpose in mind, and while they do portal must have the ability to search the correct information appropriately. Partners can log in to know about different products & services, accessing marketing & sales material, and so on. While the portal is filled with content, partners must be able to quickly find specific content through keyword search. Having great filters and searching capabilities within the partner portal is crucial; otherwise, partners might get frustrated and leave the portal.
The B2B technology landscape has become saturated over the past few years, and Partner Relationship Management providers have not been immune to this proliferation of startups trying to earn a piece of the market. The key thing, the big takeaway, and ultimate decision-maker should be the answer to this question, “Do you want your CRM or PRM to be your source of channel truth?”
Certain PRM providers focus on enabling their users to manage their entire channel from their system, passing very little information back to their CRM. This is great for super small programs, where the channel is maybe allowed to be tested, or for when organizations don’t have a well-built out CRM practice yet.
On the flip side, if your organization is supporting your partner strategy with resources and dollars from other departments then chances are all the data needs to be in one place. If this is the case, make sure to select a vendor that doesn’t have any data in their portal that you can’t access from your CRM.
Do you think you need to make changes to your partner portal?
Your partner portal should help you scale your business and should contribute to the success of your relationship with your partners. Request a demo today to see if Vartopia is a fit for your partners!