“Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much” – Helen Keller.
This is the motto of businesses today. We are likely to see every business using a partner portal to automate their engagement process in this digital era. However, too often, partner portals fail to deliver the core promise because they lack important features. What are they? How do we know partner portal best practices? Both are fair questions, and in this article, I will try to explain those in a structured way.
What is Partner Portal
A software that helps your business partners collaborate and communicate.
Simple, right? Well, a partner portal is complicated, just like your partner ecosystem. You may have partners from different regions, though selling the same products from one vendor. They may differentiate themselves in various aspects such as their selling scale, reach, business planning, marketing, sales, incentives, etc. A partner portal figures this out and serves them in the best way possible. It allows distributors, resellers, installers, service providers, and other stakeholders to obtain direct access to marketing resources, pricing and sales information, technical details, customers’ data, etc.
How Does Partner Portal Help
Let’s take the example of Cadbury. How do you think they reach every corner of the world? By partnership. The distributors and resellers are Cadbury’s partners in a way. However, not every partner would be the same. Small partners might not have the competency to sell certain products, while a large partner may have it. So, instead of differentiating the products manually, the partner portal will figure it out automatically.
Next, instead of calling higher authorities for purchase orders and delivery status, these distributors and resellers can log in to the portal and check it themselves. They can place their order from their login space, view their targets, accomplishments, and more.
Apart from this, you can leverage multiple propositions like lead generation, sales automation, partnership training, business consulting, etc. A partner portal boosts relationships, improves efficiency, and delivers transparency.
A partner portal depends on subsystems like CRM, learning management, inventory, marketing tools, etc. But developing it requires too much work. Making it work together creates a complex experience. What if you took a different road? What about creating a unified experience that makes it easy for partners to log in, look for information, search and find tools easily within a few minutes? In the below section, we shall see how to do that.
If you want a quick answer, you can consult a team with expertise in partner portal development.
Partner Portal Best Practices to Improve Channel Experience
Populate your partner portal with useful and updated information, train your sales team and partners, engage with them, automate the business process, offer necessary resources, and easy accessibility.
We read about it everywhere. But on the implementation level, how to adopt these are unknown. Hence, we suggest you follow these partner portal best practices to get the most out of it.
Offer Unified Experience
One of the essential capabilities of a partner platform is to provide a single point of access with granular-level management capabilities. The purpose of unified access and granular level profiling is that portal users, i.e., partners, can pull out all the necessary information about their invoices, orders, status, leads, sales performance, incentive utilization, etc., in one go from one place. By leveraging partners’ data, vendors can control their activities, features, and data that the partner portal allows users to access.
To implement that, look for a partner portal development company that has deployed solutions for small, medium, and large scale businesses for different industries. The reason is that they know the size of an organization determines the complexities and features required. For example, if you sell a product internationally, you may require a solution that offers a localized experience to partners. Well, that may not be the case if you’re targeting one specific region like South Korea – the Korean language would suffice.
Apart from this, offer single-sign-on. Allow your partners to log in with their social accounts. Provide seamless experience between different modules. Avoid asking them to enter the same information multiple times. Pull the data from the system and auto-fill whenever and wherever required. Sync the data with CRM and other systems.
Personalization remains on the top of the partner portal best practices list as 77 percent of consumers prefer brands that deliver personalized service or experience. Partners, being consumers too, expect the same level of convenience that they receive as a customer. They expect businesses to value their experience and inputs.
Personalized access or role-based access means that a salesperson can view the sales/lead-related information on logging in. They won’t have to go through technical information or marketing programs, which they have no role in. Likewise, a support person can view cases and help requests in their login space instead of sales-related information.
Personalized access improves user experience. Hence, while implementing a partner portal, provide customization options to partners. Allow them to design the portal layout, change colors and logo according to their business. Let them configure the dashboard and view the data of their choice. For example, a few partners may like to view the lead generation data on a dashboard, while another may prefer knowing about the orders and performance. Allow them to view the data in their preferred way. As a part of personalization, engagement with a portal must be localized. Hence, offer multi-language support.
It is what makes a digital experience compelling. Most of the partners are out and about. You must offer them a mobile responsive solution that they can access while on the road, which is also easy to navigate and offers the same level of experience as a desktop.
Mobile responsiveness doesn’t only mean fitting the screen size. It’s about ensuring that data is well-aligned. Firstly, to implement that, go for a cloud-based system so that your partners can access the data from anywhere, anytime. Secondly, allow partners to access their emails, documents, and other data from their handheld devices – be it a smartphone or a tablet. Make sure that they can work from their smartphones, too, as most solutions allow viewing data from smartphones. However, users need to switch to the desktop for modifications.
If possible, develop a mobile app. Accessing a website/web portal on a smartphone is good, but a portal app will offer a faster and frictionless mobile experience.
Keep Content Consistent and Timely
If you think that just because you build a portal, your partners will use it, you’re wrong! You need to empower them with relevant information whenever and wherever they need it. If your portal doesn’t provide adequate information or is clustered with outdated information, it may lead to extra efforts, added time, and more work on your side for your partners. Also, there’s a risk of partners sharing inaccurate information.
So, to avoid this, you need to have a knowledge base that provides partners with all the relevant information, including articles, tutorials, and how-to guides. Make it searchable by implementing SEO. Allow natural searches across various categories such as marketing, sales, technical, etc. If you’re sharing content that has an expiration date or needs to be updated, schedule a reminder to remove or review that content.
Create a content clean-up routine on a weekly or monthly basis. Evaluate every piece and ensure that the content is good for your partners and other stakeholders. You can bifurcate the content to different teams to speed up the process. Or simply use a dynamic system that automatically sorts the data, sets reminders for the update, and archives irrelevant data.
Managing it dynamically will save your and your team’s efforts and time. Also, it will ensure that the data is well-organized, consistent, and up-to-date.
Engage and Collaborate
Partners need to know about the products and services when doing business on behalf of other vendors. They also need support and, for that, a medium to communicate with the vendor. Those self-service approaches, knowledge base, and incentive programs won’t be enough to retain or encourage them to yield better results. It won’t help you as well if you don’t know what your partners need.
Hence, encourage them to communicate. Take feedback about their experience with business, portal, and products and services. Integrate collaboration tools to exchange information and share documents. Use communication channels like live chat, messaging via different channels, etc. Build a community where partners can share ideas, events’ pictures, suggestions, current activities, and more. It will increase the excitement level in partners and help you find inspiration and ideas to improve your products and services.
Establishing a relationship with your partners will help you gain credibility.
We also know that this list of partner portal best practices is long, and implementing these changes can be overwhelming. The good news is that there are different ways to adopt these changes. An experienced portal development team like CRMJetty can help you make these changes sequentially in a holistic way.
How does the Partner Portal by CRMJetty help?
By offering you exactly what partners look for in a partner portal via custom portal development.
Ease of Use
While doing business, partners expect the solution to be simple and easy to navigate. If they think that managing operations in a portal take up a lot of time, they won’t prefer it much.
Hence, in developing your custom portal, we offer a seamless interface and a unified experience. Your partners can manage programs, assets, leads, contracts, sales, marketing, etc., from one place. They can view their incentives, performance metrics, and business analytics directly from the dashboard. Apart from this, they can get advanced search options with various customization features.
The most vital sections of the portal are support sections. They help your partners with relevant information about products and services along with product price, incentives, and more. We implement partner portal best practices to ensure partner success, i.e., keep content consistent and relevant. For easy searchability, we provide content categorization along with a knowledge base.
Opportunity to Communicate
We provide all the features that partners may require to manage leads, forecast performance, and implement new business strategies. However, that’s not enough, and so we offer custom features to encourage partner and vendor communication, such as community support and feedback options.
While encouraging partners to share their feedback and suggestions, we also encourage you to share your feedback and ask for improvements, i.e., we offer customizations.
We ensure that the partner portal is tailored to your business requirements
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