Are you still referring to your sales tool as partner relationship management (PRM)? It’s time for a change. As we've discussed, old-school PRM died years ago. These were originally designed to help channel managers gain control over their partners. And what was once all that and a bag of chips in the 1990s deteriorated into a dumping ground for complicated processes and inefficient tools. PRM eventually began to hinder partners instead of empowering them.
Today, complex B2B sales cycles demand more. Modern buyers use more information sources than ever to make purchases, making it essential for businesses to understand buyer personas, motives, and attitudes.
That’s where partner sales acceleration enters the story. These next-generation PRM tools take the idea of the outdated partner portal and account for the entire sales and marketing ecosystem. Instead of relying on several outdated tools, single software-as-a-service toolsets improve partner adaptation, engagement, and effectiveness.
And they provide real, measurable growth. Sounds pretty great, huh? They are.
So, how do you choose a next-gen partner portal for your needs?
With no shortage of vendors, evaluating and choosing partner portals can be downright difficult. What do you look for? How do you determine which portal is the best fit for your channel? One size doesn't fit all when it comes to implementing the right channel sales tools. While price is obviously a factor, it should not carry all the weight. The wrong portal with subpar features is a waste of your time and money.
To get things right the first time, it’s important to pick a portal with robust analytics and collaboration capabilities. Here are some things to consider when shopping around:
1. Evaluate Your Needs
Change happens quickly in today’s tech-driven economy (pour one out for PRMs). However, one thing stays constant: Not all channels are created equal. Knowing the realities of your channel helps you figure out your needs:
What limitations are you experiencing with existing tools?
What problems is your channel experiencing?
What will you define as success?
It’s critical to ask the right questions to orient your thinking and guide the process of evaluating, re-evaluating, and tweaking your channel program.
2. Analyze Its Features
Maintaining healthy partner relationships is critical to the channel. However, selling subscription-based solutions takes streamlined communication. You and your partners need a portal that motivates clients to stay subscribed—and features that empower them to succeed. Here are some features to check for:
User Experience: How intuitive is the user interface? It should be easy for partners to learn how to use the tool. And it must be mobile-friendly.
Sales: Keep an eye open for landing page personalization, chat functions, and live pricing during deal registration. And analyze where leads are delivered and assigned. Ultimately, portals must make it easier to communicate and sell more.
Marketing: Portals must be all about discoverability. Is it simple for reps to locate the right content? Can you access data that displays content performance? Can partners see what marketing campaigns are running and when? Ultimately, if you can’t deliver resources to partners effectively and efficiently, it’s time to look elsewhere.
3. Assess Implementation and Setup
We’re fairly certain your sales and marketing teams already use technology (it is 2017). Rather than replace your existing tools, it’s important to augment your processes with an additional layer. Implementation depends on how well your existing components communicate with each other.
How soon can your channel be up and running with the new partner portal? The best tools empower you and your partners to get down to business in no time.
4. Consider Onboarding and Training
Onboarding is an important step in building ongoing partner relationships. Tools should create strategic, repeatable processes by combining certifications, quizzes, rewards, and leaderboards. In addition to effective onboarding, portals must include effective training programs that present information in a way that sticks. Next-gen training mirrors job conditions with immersive models that address real-life sales issues.
Your portals should set partners up for success with programs that build loyalty, establish communication parameters, and provide prospects with the right information—from onboarding to training.