Even though partner portals are meant to create opportunities to streamline sales processes, empower partners and establish competitive advantages, 80% of partner portals still end up unpopular and unused by partners. Why even bother then to update or build a tool that a majority of people don’t even use? However, if built with the right tools and strategy, a partner portal can be highly successful in unlocking the potential in your partner ecosystem and establishing a mutually profitable relationship.
Satisfied Partners Means Success
We’ve worked with many organizations striving to create a better experience for their partners. One such company is Hewlett Packard Enterprise; they knew that their outdated, complicated and disjointed partner portal was a roadblock to successful partnerships. In order to remedy this problem and deliver exceptional experiences to 250,000 partners worldwide, HPE built a new partner portal that focused on an outside-in approach and aimed to satisfy their partners.
Within a year, a new streamlined and comprehensive portal was launched and partner satisfaction skyrocketed to an all-time high. Using Liferay technology, HPE was able to:
- Increase portal adoption and utilization by 50%.
- Enable partners to achieve more effective selling.
- Handle complex permissioning for a multi-tiered partner program.
Anne Anderson, Vice President of Experience and Change Management, said about the partner portal, "Nobody’s been able to throw anything at us that we couldn’t handle. Our portal supports growing, changing business needs, but it does it in a way that we don’t need to re-engineer it every time. It’s pretty awesome."
Leveraging a Partner-Centric Portal Solution
How have successful companies such as HPE been able to build solutions that satisfy their partners? By:
Including All Partner Tools in One Place
An enterprise partner portal is designed to support existing partners. The goal with any effective partner portal should be to help meet your partner's needs by boosting productivity. Creating an easy-to-use interface with tools in one location that partners use frequently, such as calendars and G-suite accessibility will only increase their efficiency and ability to sell your products. Modern partner portals can also be used on smartphones and tablets, ensuring connectivity for wherever the partner may be. In addition, adding hierarchy and role-based access control will cut down confusion and direct partners to what they need to get done.
Facilitating Open Communication and Knowledge Sharing
Having a space for partners to communicate freely with the partnering business will increase loyalty and engagement. When information flows freely, partners are able to place trust in the organization. Partners will be able to have easy access to materials necessary to be more productive such as training courses, customizable marketing content and sales tools. An up-to-date partner portal will be able to host all the connections needed so many people can access the portal at once. The ease of use will increase engagement and thus loyalty. Partners will want to use the portal and will be dedicated to the goal of mutual success.
Automating Business Operations
Streamlining repetitive processes like ordering makes doing business easier, faster and more accurate. Busy sellers may not have the time to pick up the phone to speak to a vendor, but having the ease of simply going to the portal to perform the same action is valuable. These sellers can also have access to online support, approval workflows and self-service functionalities, further streamlining the buying cycle. By saving time and resources, organizations can now turn their attention to other business priorities.
- Giving Partners What They Want Each portal solution should be tailored to the different needs and desires of its audience. Use an outside-in approach to bring in the insights, needs and desires of your partners and administrators to drive the creation of your portal.
Send out a survey to gather feedback on what should be included in the portal. HPE did this as well in order to guide the functionality and goals for their partner portal. Extending a survey also demonstrates your dedication and commitment to your partners, setting a good foundation for these partnerships. After gathering feedback, establish goals for the portal and what features can be utilized to meet those benchmarks. For example, if you would like to increase communication between partners, consider implementing social collaboration tools such as blogs or tagging.
By executing an effective partner portal strategy, you are empowering your partners to bring in more sales; 66% of senior executives view increased revenue as a primary advantage of effective partnerships. A custom-tailored accessible partner portal with these tools and support will allow partners to sell better; a true win-win scenario for both parties. However, these benefits don’t magically appear once the portal is live. In order to reap the rewards of a partner portal, users need to actually adopt and use the tool frequently. But in order to increase user adoption, you have to start by building a tool that’s easy to use and returns immediate benefits for the users.