Put simply, the right partner portal can make it easier for channel partners to sell more, and that means your organization is selling more and hitting larger company goals. And when your organization is selling more and hitting overall company goals, everyone wins.
But selecting and implementing a partner portal isn’t easy. What features do you look for? How do you determine which portal is the best fit for your channel? Finding the right portal can be a lengthy process, so it’s vital that you know what to look for during your search.
In our free checklist, we cover how to identify your ideal partner portal to make your channel program a success.
Selecting and implementing a partner portal isn’t the easiest thing to do. However, it’s an important decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The partner portal first emerged in the business computing days of yore, alongside install CDs and various iterations of the floppy disk (remember those days?).
These pieces of rudimentary communication software kept vendors in touch with their partners. They made sure that the product was moving. In other words, they did their job—but not much else. This simple technology often required manual work outside the portal, such as swapping information through iteration after iteration of spreadsheets. With software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, this is a recipe for disaster. There’s simply too much going on in a single partner relationship—let alone an entire partner program with tens or hundreds of partners—for anyone to manually keep track of things.
These days, the channel is more nuanced. And these traditional, outdated portals are not nearly enough to get the job done. Approaching modern channel demands with old tools is like trying to work on a dial-up modem. It may theoretically be possible, but you’re limiting your partners from the onset (and creating unnecessary headaches in the process). To best support your partners, you need to think beyond the traditional partner portal.
Between achieving channel key performance indicators (KPIs) and company revenue growth, the right partner portal can help move the needle. Think about it. When your organization’s channel team is hitting its KPIs, this contributes to an overarching organizational goal of increasing channel sales and boosting company revenue. What’s more, the best partner portals facilitate marketing automation; real-time communication and collaboration; and accelerated performance through training, data, and reports.
There’s no shortage of vendors. This surplus of options has made selection tough. In fact, evaluating partner portals can be downright difficult. So, what do you look for? And how do you determine which portal is the best fit for your channel? One size does not fit all when it comes to implementing the right channel sales tools. This is especially true when businesses are implementing SaaS tools and opening up recurring revenue streams. The bigger you scale a channel program, the more partners it involves.
While price is obviously a key factor, it should not carry all the weight in your decision. The wrong portal with subpar features is a waste of an investment. Getting things right the first time will save time and money in the long run—so it’s important to pick a partner portal that will give you the analytics and collaboration capabilities you need to accelerate your channel.
This checklist covers how to evaluate your channel’s needs. It reviews the features you should look for in a solution and discusses integration, onboarding, and training requirements. In other words, this list will help you and your organization ask the right questions and discover and determine the ideal technology solution for your partner program.
Evaluate Your Channel Needs
Businesses are constantly growing and changing. In today’s lightning-fast economy, changes happen quickly—no matter the size of your business. However, not all channels are created equal. Before you begin, it’s important to look inward. What’s your current reality? What does your channel need?
To evolve your channel as quickly as your competition, it’s critical that you’re asking the right questions to orient your thinking and guide the process of evaluating, re-evaluating, and tweaking your channel program:
1. What limitations are you experiencing with your existing partner portal (or channel tools if you don’t already have a partner portal)?
2. What key problems is your channel experiencing that you need a partner portal to solve?
3. What will define success for your new partner portal?
4. What do your current partner onboarding and training processes look like, and how can you improve them?
5. What feedback have you received from your partners about what they would like to see?
6. What is your budget?
Maintaining healthy partner relationships has always been critical to the channel. But when selling robust, subscription-based SaaS solutions, streamlined communication is even more important. Your partners need a partner portal that establishes deeply rooted relationships that keep clients subscribed and seeking more of your services.
They need features that empower them to succeed. From automation and collaboration to training and content delivery, you need technology that extends beyond the traditional partner portal. A user interface that isn't intuitive and easy to use is one that won't be used at all. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
1. How intuitive is the user interface?
2. How easy or difficult will it be for your partners to learn how to use the tool?
3. What sort of onboarding is required?
4. Is it mobile-friendly?
1. Will the features included in the portal make it easier for you to sell more?
2. Does the partner portal create
3. transparency and make communication easier?
4. Can you generate personalized landing pages for prospects?
5. Is there a chat function available to increase collaboration? Even better, can members of your internal team live-chat with partners about products, services, or active opportunities?
6. Can leads be delivered directly to partners via your own customer relationship management system?
7. Can leads be automatically assigned with appropriate sales playbooks?
8. Do your partners have access to live pricing during the deal registration process?
9. Are you able to automatically reward reps for registering their deals?
10. Are partners equipped to onboard/implement new customers?
11. Do partners have access to customer health data? If so, do they also have resources for better supporting customers in need?
12. Will you be able to determine if your partner program is successful in six months? One year? Three years?
1. Is the partner portal where your marketing content will get lost, or is it simple for reps to locate the right content?
2. Can you access data behind what content reps are using and what marketing collateral best helps close leads?
3. Do you have the ability to deliver resources to partners so that they can self-serve from onboarding through sales engagement?
4. Will partners know what marketing campaigns are running and when?
5. Can your partners easily tell which scripts to use, emails to send, and content to share for each deal?
6. Can you give partners the chance to be active participants in new marketing content and campaigns?
Integration Requirements and Setup
Chances are, your sales and marketing teams are already leveraging a selection of tools and technologies. Ideally, the tools your team uses align around the channel and empower partners, improve activities, and accelerate sales. Rather than replace your existing technology, it’s important to improve your processes with an added layer.
Successful implementation often depends on how well your technology components communicate with each other. The best tools take you beyond the portal by automating tedious tasks. They empower you and your partners to get down to the nitty-gritty and eliminate the room for error that comes with extra work. Tools that integrate with your current technology to create a seamless solution empower partner programs to succeed. To ensure that you’re meeting all necessary integration and setup requirements, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What other tools does your new partner portal need to integrate with?
2. Will the partner portal customer success team assist in successfully integrating your other tools?
3. How soon can your channel be up and running with the new partner portal?
Partner Onboarding and Training
Onboarding is one of the most important steps in building partner relationships. That’s why it’s crucial for partner portals to encourage strategic, repeatable onboarding processes. Strong programs build loyalty, establish communication parameters, and provide prospects with the right information. They set partners up for success before the partners even begin selling. Consider tools that combine certifications, quizzes, rewards, and leaderboards to guarantee that partners are engaged.
In addition to effective onboarding, it’s important that your efforts are ongoing. You need training—and not just any training. Your portal should present information in a way that will stick with your partners and ensure they can access it anytime. Training must mirror job conditions with immersive models that enable partners to solve real-life sales issues. Motivating partners with a culture of continued learning is the only way to foster long-term success:
1. Will the portal simplify onboarding and set your partners up for success?
2. Does the partner portal allow you to keep channel reps up to speed with the courses you create?
3. Are there partner certifications you can set up within training to help your partners succeed?
4. Can you create quizzes within the portal to keep your reps up to date?
5. Does the training incorporate gamification to keep partners engaged?
What’s worse than not having the right technology? Having too many tools that don’t integrate with each other. While they may have been powerful decades ago, disjointed partner portal tools can make things even more complex for your channel. Where these systems are lacking, Allbound picks up the pieces.
Next-generation partner relationship management tools (PRM) like Allbound take the idea of the outdated partner portal and turn it on its head. These platforms account for the entire sales and marketing ecosystem. They improve efficiency by augmenting engagement and organization. They empower partners by streamlining collaboration. They automate internal processes and cater to the needs of your channel. And they centralize all your tools and technologies. Allbound is the solution to the antiquated partner portal of the past. This next generation PRM is built around the specific needs of channel programs and their partners— and has tools and features in place that facilitate automation and communication.
The Allbound model provides a modern, integrated framework for building and growing engaged and successful partners. Each stage is backed by best practices that can be empowered and measured with the Allbound platform.
Allbound facilitates partner relationships and drives comprehensive results and initiatives. From its robust features and integration requirements to its partner onboarding and training processes, Allbound is designed to cater to the demands of the modern channel.
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