Companies are increasingly looking to channel partners to help them move into and grow new markets. As the partner network grows, a partner portal can become key to driving the relationships and making life easier for both the vendor and their partners.
What is a partner portal?
A partner portal is an online platform that gives your partners access to the various resources they need to successfully market, sell and support your products and services. These resources can include marketing assets, pricing and sales information, technical product information and training.
Partner portals may also provide direct access to your systems and processes, such as deal management and customer support tools.
The capabilities required by channel partners depends on their relationship with the vendor. Distributors and resellers may only require lead and sales support. Whereas VARs and system integrators require more detailed product information, training and product support. And with the growth of integrated digital services using APIs, partners increasingly need developer content and API documentation
Gaining a competitive advantage
While there are many advantages of creating a partner portal, arguably the most important are those that give you an edge over your competition.
Successful partner portals are based on three pillars:
Many off-the-shelf portals, for example those from Salesforce, focus on a narrow range of capabilities that play to their strengths. This means it is likely that you are not addressing all the needs of your partners. You need a platform that is capable of meeting all their needs. With the growth of digital services and system integrations, this may require content available on your platform being delivered via a partner’s system, a Field Service Management or Facilities Management system, for example.
Content provides value and keeps your partners engaged. Partners need to be able to easily find and access relevant and up-to-date information. So it is important to ensure that you have a robust process in place to produce this content. As products evolve and new ones are added, the information on your portal must evolve with your products. This is even more important for digital products and APIs that can be released globally in minutes. Across multiple markets, senior managers often understand English, but support and maintenance staff may only know their local languages. Your portal and some of the information and resources on it may need to be available in the appropriate languages.
For your partners, your portal may be an integral part of their processes. If they are having difficulty using it, they will need help. Treat the on-boarding and support mechanisms on your portal as if it were another of your products.
The advantages of a partner portal
Your partner portal can provide you with a competitive advantage when building a partner network as a market access strategy. But to be a success the portal must provide the correct range of capabilities, content and languages to meet the needs of your partners.
Building a partner portal is not a one-off activity. The content is what will provide value and keep your partners engaged. You need a robust content production process in place to ensure that product and support content is kept up-to-date as your products and product ranges evolve.