In Episode #28 of The Partner Channel Podcast, Picking the Right Portal for Your Partners, Meshach Amuah-Fuster sits down with Purechannels CEO Glenn Robertson to chat about how to choose the best partner portal for your ecosystem.

Here are our thoughts around some of Robertson’s biggest insights:

Embracing ‘partner power’ means putting your partners at the heart of your channel strategy.

Robertson starts off by defining the concept of ‘partner power’ as placing the partner – not the vendor – at the heart of your channel strategy. Here’s why reframing your thinking in this way is so important:

We all know how important customer experience (CX) is, especially in the post-COVID era and the associated ‘consumerization’ of B2B buying behavior. Anything that impacts your CX, then, is equally important. Because your partners are so close to your customers – often having a closer relationship with them than you do – making sure that your partners have everything they need in order to effectively reach, educate, engage with, and sell to your customers is one of the most potent ways to improve CX.

Base your partner experience (PX) model on responding to your partners’ real needs.

Robertson explains that the Purechannels PX model is based on a ‘partner-led proposition’ as opposed to a ‘vendor-led proposition’. What this really looks like is basing your ecosystem strategy on your partners’ needs, instead of on what you as a vendor dictate. The Purechannels PX model includes partner engagement, education, enablement, evaluation, and evolution over time.

Robertson doesn’t mention two earlier phases of the partner journey, which I think are worth adding here: the ‘interest’ and ‘recruitment’ phases (outlined in more detail in this article from The Spur Group). During the initial ‘interest’ phase, you need to catch the attention of potential partners by sharing information and content around your partner program structure, benefits, and success stories. Once you’ve snagged a potential partner’s interest, the ‘recruitment’ phase requires focusing on thorough onboarding and quick wins. Helping new partners experience success early on goes a long way to cementing a new relationship.

Remember, it’s a partner portal, not a vendor portal.

The best partner portal is the one that works best from the partner’s point of view, not the vendor’s. As such, the most important function of any partner portal is the ability to provide partners with what they need, when they need it, in an easily-accessible way.

This begs the question: What do partners want from a partner portal? Of course, they need easy access to information, support, training, sales, and marketing assistance. But delivering a really good PX through your partner portal requires talking to your partners and tracking and analyzing how they actually use your portal to further personalize and optimize the experience. Instead of just throwing as many resources as possible into your portal, find out which resources help your partners do their jobs as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Robertson goes on to make the even more interesting point that having success with any partner portal is more dependent on getting the ‘people-based’ side of things right than it is on investing in any particular tech or product. “What I mean is that it’s not about the tech, it’s not about the product, it’s about the experience, the set-up, the configuration, the customization, the launch, the comms, the engagement, the PX model again, the education, the enablement, the evaluation over time,” says Robertson. After all, your partner portal can only have an impact if your partners are actually using and engaging with it.

Focus on using your partner portal to simplify and improve partner processes.

As Robertson spoke about focusing on what your partners need, it got me thinking about our own experiences working with partners and customers. At Morphed, we’re always looking for new ways to remove friction from both the customer and partner experiences through our marketplace. In our experience, sales playbooks and role-based access are often sure-fire ways to improve partner processes.

·  Sales playbooks help partners sell better

Creating and sharing sales playbooks through your partner portal helps your partners sell your product better, fast. For example, we recently designed some playbooks and shared them with some of our own customers. The playbooks laid out how to address or remove friction during the sales process by implementing strategic bots or helpful videos with VideoAsk. Our customers got a lot of value out of these.

·  Role-based access personalizes PX and saves time

As Robertson says, your partners only want access to what’s truly helpful to them. Having to sift through an ocean of documentation and data to find what’s useful is overwhelming and off-putting. Simplify and personalize the experience for each partner using your portal by applying specific permissions and filters based on the needs of each particular partner.

Keep the following in mind when choosing a partner portal:

1. The most important question to ask when choosing a partner portal is ‘What do my partners need?’ Remember: the best partner portal is the one that meets your partners’ needs, not necessarily the one that has the features you want. Another way to phrase the question is ‘How will the portal benefit my partners and help them sell more of my products more effectively?’

2. Consider and weigh up both the positive and negative possible impacts of adopting a particular partner portal. Negative impacts might include the time, cost, knowledge, and resource barriers that could prevent partners from engaging with a new portal. (Time, knowledge, and resource requirements can also prove to be internal barriers to portal engagement.)

3. Understand how the portal will drive value for your partners, and then find effective ways to encourage partners to use the portal to unlock this value.

Partner Portal

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