As 2022 draws to a close, there are seemingly endless projects to complete and loose ends to wrap up, resulting in a busy Q4. With so many competing priorities, it’s important to set your partners up for success in the new year.
This can be achieved in part by prioritizing an updated channel partner portal that includes the right tools and resources they’ll need to close out the year strong. Taking a look at your existing partner portals and identifying areas that could be cleaned up or improved will then set your partner relationships up for success in 2023.
Why and How to Include Partner Portals in Your Channel Audit
As you wrap up end-of-year campaigns, you’re likely already viewing metrics and gathering data on your partner program. Perhaps you’re currently preparing to present these numbers to key stakeholders concerned with measuring KPI and assessing the ROI of each partnership.
While your organization’s revenue-related goals need to measure partner sales numbers, there’s much more you can dig into to provide a clearer picture of overall channel performance.
Perform a channel audit to assess where you’re currently at so you can start making improvements. A channel audit not only provides insight into how your program is currently performing, it will also help you make strategic decisions and improvements for the year (or years) to come. One key piece that should be included in your channel audit is partner engagement.
How well each partner engages with your content, training exercises, quizzes, onboarding and other vital resources will provide insight into how engaged they are and how successful the partnership is overall. So, where do partner portals come into play?
All the aforementioned resources are housed in the portal. Consider whether or not your portal empowers your partners to take the desired action, accomplish shared goals and engage with your organization. If you discover in your audit that engagement with playbooks, training certifications or movement through each milestone is low, it’s likely time to revisit your portal.
Remember: The portal is one piece of the puzzle in your partner program.
However, it can offer a tremendous amount of insight into which partners might need motivation or extra attention in the coming year.
What to Tidy Up In Your Partner Portals
If you’re looking to drive engagement and create a better experience for partners, putting a bit of elbow grease into your portal can make a big difference.
Here are a few key questions to ask yourself:
- Marketing tools and resources: How clear are your marketing instructions? Are partners using the tools provided? Is it easy for them to launch campaigns? Have new resources been added? Do existing resources need to be updated?
- Integrations: Have you adopted any new software this quarter that could benefit partners? Are your tech stack and CRM integrations working properly?
- Design: Is the portal clean, simple and intuitive to navigate and use? Is all co-branding up-to-date?
As you answer the questions related to each element of your portal, really put yourself in your partner’s shoes.
If you run into roadblocks, or you identify areas that are clunky, difficult to navigate, or otherwise don’t perform or look the way you initially wanted them to, it’s time to do some cleaning to make your portal spotless. Communicate with your teammates to assign clean-up projects to the appropriate individuals. Keep channel partner experience (PX) in mind and automate processes within your portal to make each action even more streamlined and simplified.
How to Determine If Your Portal is Partner-Friendly
As you audit your portal and begin planning for improvements, it’s important to gain outside perspectives on what’s working and what could change.
The first step is to talk to partners to see if they have specific updates they’d like to see on their portal. Some improvements may not necessarily be feasible, while others may take a while to accomplish. Setting clear expectations and establishing timelines with partners makes your portal readiness projects much smoother.
Next, take a look at the metrics and usage rates on various materials and resources in the portal. If usage is low, for example, this could indicate that a piece of content or resource may be difficult to find, tricky to access or complicated to use. It could also point to instructions or naming conventions that are less than engaging. Viewing data, coupled with partner conversations, will give you the right insight to inform your improvement plan moving forward.
Now, ask yourself: Is my portal fun? Do partners actually want to use the portal? Gamification is a great feature to incorporate into the overall channel PX to boost engagement and get partners returning to the hub you’ve designed. If you’re not already, you can assign points to partners for completing certain actions, which doubles as an easy way to improve your portal for next year.
Lastly, work with your Implementation Specialists and Customer Success Managers to lend their expertise so you can design the best possible partner portal starting now.
Creating a Portal Clean-Up Timeline
Putting together a timeline will help save your sanity and keep communication transparent with your channel partners. While making any and every improvement to your portal by end-of-year is a dream scenario, it’s often not realistic for all organizations in a busy Q4.
The following steps can help your team put together a roadmap for your portal improvement projects.
- Create a plan to audit and update your portal within a designated time frame. Break the audit portion and actual updates into two separate tasks so you have time to assess your channel audit results and assign improvement projects to appropriate parties.
- Make sure you have the bandwidth, and bring in extra hands as needed. While partner managers often wear many hats, not all projects can (or should) fall on one person’s shoulders. Work with your team and across departments to determine who has the capacity to assist with portal-related projects.
- Communicate plans and progress with your partners. Involve partners early in the process so they can offer their insights and requests upfront. Deliver your portal improvement plan and keep partners up-to-date as tasks are accomplished.
- Determine your ideal timeline. Some portal improvement projects may be quick fixes that can be accomplished by the end of 2022, while others may be long-term goals or major updates that take a significant amount of time to see through. Again, work with your internal teams and partners to determine the next steps.
Make Your Partner Portal Even Better
From playbooks to co-marketing content and market development funds, a partner portal is the one-stop shop that helps keep partner relationships managed and successful. Take a look at the following resources to get your portal in tip-top shape for next year.
Partner Portal Best Practices and Design Checklist – Discover the key features and essential design elements to incorporate into your portal.
Automate, Scale, Integrate – PRM System Criteria – Strong partner relationships and an engaging channel experience lead to long-term success. Learn how to leverage your partner portal to build a stronger program.
7 Elements of a Successful Partner Engagement Plan – Reflect on the success of partner engagement and gain actionable insights by reviewing our strategic partnership engagement framework.