What Partners Look for in a Partner Portal
Today, a partner portal is the primary interface that organizations selling through the channel use to communicate with their channel partners. Therefore, it is essential for channel organizations to know what partners are actually looking for when they log in to a partner portal. In this article we will explore three core characteristics a partner portal requires from the partner perspective.
But first, let’s spend a few minutes exploring the purpose and value of a partner portal. Essentially, a partner portal is a digital support interface that channel partners use to access all the information they need to do business with a vendor and increase business from their customer and prospect base. However, most partner portals fail to deliver on this core promise.
When it comes to doing business on behalf of a vendor, partners look for key information related to the products and services they are reselling. They also need to know how to get support, find out what else is new and learn how best to serve their own customer base. Based on numerous partner surveys we have conducted, we can classify partner interests into three core categories:
- Ease of use – Partners are always in a hurry, so searching through an enormous volume of content can be quite time-consuming, confusing and, occasionally, an utter waste of time. An easy-to-use, mobile-friendly partner portal is therefore essential for partner success. Unfortunately, most organizations fail to understand that both navigation and content access are critical in making sure partners can find what they are looking for quickly, and these organizations rarely take the time to figure out how to make navigating and finding content easier for partners.
- Effective content organization – The most visited sections of a partner portal are the support sections related to products and services, followed by price lists and product information, and finally incentives and promotions. To ensure partner success, channel organizations need to be sure their partner portal makes these sections highly accessible and easy to use.
- Feedback center – The importance of feedback should be obvious, but this is an area that is often missing entirely from most partner portals. Think about it: If you give your partners an opportunity to communicate with you openly, you will quickly accumulate an enormous volume of feedback about various aspects of your channel programs, products and services—and you can use that feedback to improve your offerings and increase the effectiveness of your channel.
As you can see, this is not an insurmountable list, but addressing these areas satisfactorily does require careful thinking, planning and continuous management. A major challenge associated with any partner portal is that it is constantly changing, and, from the perspective of the partner experience, it can easily get out of control. Vigilance is key. Make sure your organization has a structured approach towards ensuring partner portal usability so that you are constantly reviewing the partner experience and reorganizing information in the portal as it expands. You want to make sure the partner portal continues not only to be the primary interface between your organization and its partners, but also a “first touch” that actually delights your partner base.