Why partner portals often fail to deliver for the channel.
The portal-based approach to engaging with partners is no longer working
Most channel managers and partners no longer even regard portals as sales enablement tools, viewing them instead as administrative spaces, used to register leads; update opportunities and download the occasional case study.
One key challenge is that the content required to run a successful channel programme is spread across more disparate systems than ever. The migration of critical enterprise systems to purpose-built cloud-based SaaS systems has only exacerbated the problem. Pulling together the right content from the raft of content repositories relevant to any one client is therefore becoming increasingly difficult. Add to that, the fact that each partner’s challenges vary depending on their status in the channel programme, their regional focus and product offerings and the problems seem even more intractable.
Unfortunately, portal designers currently often fail to rise to the challenge. There is often too much emphasis on vendor requirements and not enough on those of the partner. The approach is typically one-size-fits-all with little content personalised to the interests and needs of the channel audience.
Clunky, dull and uninspiring portal layouts and user interfaces often make matters worse by preventing users from easily navigating information and quickly finding what they need. And in an age where user expectations have been raised significantly by simple intuitive digital technology in the home environment, platforms that make it difficult to access content or that struggle to deliver content personalised to users’ needs are no longer acceptable.
Finding an Answer
Contextual content delivery can provide a solution to the above challenges, putting the user in complete control of what they want and how they want to see it and enabling a completely personal, two-way, online conversation between a company and every person in its channel – anywhere in the world and on any device.
This kind of bespoke user personalisation may sound like a big deal but. Some of the latest partner portal technologies use sophisticated user interfaces and robust APIs to integrate with all data sources that may be relevant to the channel from CRM solutions to marketing automation software and consolidates it all into a central data source. That’s stage one.
The next equally critical phase is to apply audience intelligence that drives the unique experience for each user. Using technology in this way to understand all of the different members of the channel group, from channel managers to partners, their specific requirements as well as the relationships between each, ensures vendors can deliver the right content to the right person at the right time, and on any device.
There is a raft of benefits that stakeholders across the channel achieve from this new way of doing business. Channel managers gain a central hub to manage all the content and tools that the channel needs to be successful as well as a central view of all partner activities across all content and systems. The approach also gives them the tools to easily package content around any theme, like a product launch, campaign or opportunity, and then distribute it to the right audience. The channel partner also benefits from access to the central hub to view the latest up-to-the-minute content, relevant to their role, and collaborate on activities with the vendor, no matter whether they are in the office, or on the road.
They can gain a much better understanding of what they are selling and what their main challenges are in doing so. Building on this enhanced awareness, they can start to self-serve and update their records more quickly. By using the model to drive enhanced efficiencies, partners can streamline their operations and make cost savings - and by gaining faster access to more relevant information, they can make more sales and generate more revenues. It’s a completely new, more personalised approach to partner portals and its bringing real benefits today to vendors and their partners alike.