Before you can incentivize your channel partners to use your portal or other partner software, make sure you ask your internal teams the following questions regarding your partner experience with the software:
- Do partners know the portal exists and how it benefits them?
- Is the portal personalized and relevant to partners?
- Is the portal updated regularly?
- Are there benefits that can only be accessed or accomplished within the portal?
- Does your behavior encourage partner portal usage?
- Is the portal easy to use?
If you answered no to any of these questions you have some work to do. Here are suggestions that correspond to each question:
Do partners know the portal exists and how it benefits them?
Partners need to be informed about your portal and how it benefits them:
- Remind them of the benefits and any updates or enhancements you make
- Make certain program elements like training and content only available via the portal
- Ensure internal teams reference the portal in their partner communications
Is the portal personalized and relevant to partners?
A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for partner portals. Partners should be grouped into categories each with their own experience that aligns with the unique needs of each partner group. Personalization goes a long way. Irrelevant content will raise a red flag to partners and show that you are not aligned with their goals. Tailor your home page to the audience with calls to action relevant to the visitor, considering partner type, tier, role, and sales motion.
Is the portal updated regularly?
The quickest way to turn off a partner is to have out-of-date content front and center on your portal. While this seems elementary, a lack of updates and outdated content is often a big problem in partner software.
- Take down those old promotions, registration pages, and product details, replacing it with current content
- Have a well-defined process for adding and removing content
- Don’t load up the portal with content for the sake of adding it
- Be deliberate and focused with the message of your content — if it isn’t relevant, don’t add it
- Create a centralized portal editorial calendar to plan content themes and keep updates consistent
Are there benefits that can only be accessed or accomplished within the portal?
The portal should provide value to the partner and your team needs to communicate that point often.
- Partners need to understand clearly why they need to use the portal
- Drive overall usage by having critical program elements depend on the portal. Valuable components of the portal include areas like opportunity management, training, promotions, and communications
- Ensure the portal becomes the primary mode of communication to partners
- Link to the portal from your newsletter and other partner communications
- Have your partner managers add the portal link to their email signatures and be clear about why partner managers should not do manual work or send content directly to partners (instead directing partners to the software)
Does your behavior encourage partner portal usage?
The way you manage your partner relationships and program activities can influence your partners’ level of engagement with your portal.
While it might be easy for you to register a deal on a partner’s behalf or email them the latest price list, completing manual work that can be done in the portal only encourages partners to email instead of doing the task themselves. The last thing you want is your internal teams sending content or taking action for a partner that can be done self service via the portal.
Even though encouraging partners to use your partner portal will take more effort and at first, in the long run it’s the only way to build portal engagement — and it helps with program scalability too!
Is the portal easy to use?
You likely think the answer is “yes” because portal software is easy to use, but have you inadvertently made it hard for your partners to find what they need?
- Check your current portal for internal company naming conventions, acronyms, and jargon that might be confusing to new partners. Remember that partners do not always know your internal processes, so it is critical to name content and elements in your portal in terms your partners will understand
- Keep your portal from becoming a dumping ground. Content should be organized in a way that’s logical for partners — this organizational structure could be different from how you organize content internally
- Ask your partners for usability feedback and fix any issues they bring up
While there isn’t a secret recipe to driving portal usage, getting these six areas right will help ensure your partners are aligned with the benefits your partner software brings to the table.