So, you’ve decided to launch a partner program filled with independent channel partners to help your organization thrive.
You notice that momentum is picking up with a few partners, and you’re experiencing an increment of sales.
It’s an exciting time for you, you should be celebrating the success of your newly launched partner program, but you can’t. Why? Because you’re too busy managing the administrative work, excel reports, and long-running email threads.
And now you’re left to wonder, how did work from the channel program pile up so fast?
When to consider a partner portal
Lucky for you, we’ve dissected your channel partner program to pinpoint complex areas that shout the need for a partner portal. Let’s begin.
You have an email addiction
You can’t run a business with independent channel partners without a considerable amount of communication and collaboration. We get it, but you also can’t have a relationship with your channel partners that live in your inbox.
Be honest and ask yourself:
Am I constantly looking at my emails?
Do I have multiple threads with channel partners that get confusing at times?
Am I constantly scrolling up and down individual emails to understand the conversation that is taking place?
And let’s not forget the biggest question that we all ask ourselves, what is this email about again?
If you resonated with this exercise, you’re probably frustrated with communicating and collaborating with channel partners over email. Don’t worry, there’s a fix to your email addiction, and it's called a partner portal.
Imagine taking all of your email communications and organizing them on a secured portal. Not organized by subject or date, but organized by the account and topic that the communication is related to.
For example, let’s say channel partner John is communicating with you about a deal for Company Z. Company Z is a difficult win, it has a lot of questions and, as a result, John needs your support more than ever.
Can you imagine the length of conversations you would have with John?
Now, let’s stick those conversations directly on the account it’s related to. Voila, the conversation has a clear home, is properly tracked, support is provided to John, and you can sit back knowing that you effortlessly collaborated and communicated with your channel partner.
You’re managing a lot of Excel sheets
I’m going to throw it out there, the days of tracking everything on Excel are ancient history and just not an efficient way to track leads.
Aren’t you tired of hitting the arrow key to go from column to column?
Constant data entry into an Excel document is an invitation to human error. Conducting lead registration on an Excel sheet isn’t going to help you grow partner sales, and it just may do the opposite.
Let’s put this into perspective, a partner has registered a lead, and you are entering it into your database, powered by Excel. You’re the middleman.
How will you know when the lead status changes?
How will you track how hard your channel partner is working on this specific lead to win the deal?
It’s simple, you can’t.
It becomes problematic when one human is tracking and managing the lead registration Excel sheet. This isn’t just because of human error, it’s also because of timing.
Remember playing broken telephone as a kid? By the time the message reached the last person, it was inaccurate,and took up a significant amount of time to relay.
This is pretty much the same thing that is happening when you are entering lead information on an Excel sheet. You are creating an increased chance of inaccurate information and lead delays.
In the industry of indirect sales and independent channel partners, time is everything. Missed touch-points with a lead can mean a lost deal.
To avoid any hiccups in the lead registration process and for the opportunity to finally say goodbye to Excel, implement a partner portal. A partner portal will create an organized, automated process that will not only manage and track leads, but give the ability to analyze partner performance.
Your channel partners keep asking you for resources
Being an independent channel partner can be tough, and managing these relationships can be an even bigger challenge. As your partner program grows, you’ll have more and more partners reaching out to you for support. Who knows, this could already be the case for you.
As the vendor, you need to provide the support your channel partners need when they need it. This is tough when your role entails so much more than distributing resources to channel partners. But, it must be done in order to manage a positive relationship and retain strong channel partners.
You’ll be pleased to know that there is an easier way to deliver resources to your channel partners – a partner portal, of course.
Here’s a scenario, your channel partner John is back for more support.
This time, he would like some sales enablement resources – a sample contract to share with a potential customer and some MDF funds to help grow the business brand in his region.
The first thing that probably comes to mind in this scenario is, 'Man, John is asking for a lot. I don’t have time for this.' So, how can you get John the resources he needs without wasting too much time in your day?
With the use of a partner portal, John can log in with his secure single sign-on and access your documents library where your files, theoretically, should be housed in an organized fashion. He’ll have the ability to locate sales enablement resources, contract samples, and more.
John still needs MDF’s, but there are protocols in place – he needs to ask you for the funds. John can access your newly developed automated MDF request process on the portal and make a request that can be tracked, monitored, and approved. All you have to do is check the box.
Your channel partners are in different time zones
The rise of the digital workplace is giving organizations like yours the opportunity to work with independent channel partners all around the globe. While this is a great advantage, it can present many challenges, as you need to be able to work closely with your partners and manage the relationship.
Are you currently struggling to meet requirements with channel partners who are in different time-zones? Or, are you looking to expand your partner program to areas in different time-zones?
To successfully have an expanded, out-of-this-world, independent channel partner program, it needs to be properly supported. This is a clear red flag that tells you that you need a partner portal.
Let’s say you’ve attracted an independent channel partner, an implementer partner named Jane. Jane lives in Singapore, and you live in New York City. That’s a 12-hour time difference – when you’re awake and ready to hear all about Jane’s sales efforts, she’s asleep.
What can you do to create a seamless process and relationship with Jane so that it feels like you are in the same place? A partner portal.
Through a partner portal, both parties will have access to everything they need in one secure location.
You and Jane can pick up conversations where they last let off and efficiently collaborate overseas. You can track Jane’s progress and identify how she spent her work day, and Jane can send you any requests she may have. It will be as if there isn’t an ocean standing between the two of you.
There doesn’t have to be so much complexity within your independent channel partner program.
We’ve dissected a few areas in your program where it may be time for a partner portal intervention.
Take a step back and assess your partner program, I’m sure you’ll be able to identify more pain points where a partner portal will come in handy. Good luck!
Jocelyn Calderon-Arroyo is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Magentrix Corporation. She is passionate about B2B marketing and specializes in both inbound and outbound strategies. To view more content by Jocelyn, please visit www.magentrix.com.