Your partners’ success is your success. By enabling them to more efficiently and effectively reach, communicate with and sell to your clients, you can help your partners grow your business. Key to this enablement is a partner portal. An essential software utility that provides a direct line of communication between you and your partner network, your portal is a vital precursor to fostering success through your channel marketing strategy.
But recognising this truth and realising it in your own business are two entirely separate things. To help you build a portal that drives sales and engagement with your partners and your business, we sat down with Liferay Director of Global Partner Marketing, Darren Sepanek, letting her walk us through how a portal can help you meet a growing need for personalisation in your network. Vendors around the globe are realising the full value of their network with a partner portal built on Liferay DXP, giving them the power to connect with their partner organisations like never before. Read on and learn how Liferay could help you form stronger, more profitable relationships with your partners.
What Does a Successful Partner Portal Look Like?
As the single point of truth for your relationship with partners, your portal plays an important role in setting your partners up for success. In her role as the bridge between Liferay and their global partner network, Darren has seen first-hand the value of a partner portal and what needs to be done to make it a success.
“A portal – as a place for partners to go to get the tools they need – is a fairly standard benefit of any partner program. The key is making it the go-to resource for partners for everything they need. This not only keeps them informed and up-to-date but decreases the need for them to contact you, the vendor, with basic questions,” she said.
But simply having a portal and having a portal that truly drives value for your organisation and your partners’ businesses are two different things. Like any product, a well-constructed partner portal is built with the user in mind, based on a deep understanding of their requirements and goals.
“Your partner portal needs to be the place where partners go to get everything they need to help them manage their partnership with you, from marketing and sales tools to enablement, training, opportunity registration, marketing development fund requests, price books and even business planning tools.”
Easily finding and using these features strikes at the heart of what makes a partner portal so valuable – self-service. Self-service is essential to any scalable channel marketing strategy. Vendors typically have hundreds of partners, making a self-service portal the only time- and resource-efficient way to ensure that your partner network has what they need to be successful.
Many vendors segment their partners into different levels, recognising high-performers with perks such as enhanced support, additional training, access to marketing development funds and volume discounts on products and solutions. These partner status level programs can become key performance motivators, driving partners to pursue greater lead generation opportunities or revenue commitments. Managing and monitoring the business aspects of the partnership are a fundamental aspect of the portal. This includes not only ensuring partners understand the requirements and rewards of each level, but also providing dashboards so that they can see their accomplishments, including deal registration, revenue achievement, marketing program and MDF status, and lead capture.
Understanding the Barriers to Self-Service
Far from simply loading up a wiki with your training documents, your business needs to carefully and diligently build its portal with your partners’ specific needs in mind. That means understanding what causes partner portals to fail.
1. Lack of Awareness
For Darren, the primary barrier to self-service is single and universal:
“Making partners aware of what the partner portal offers and how to use it is very important. You can do all you want to build a self-service portal, but it’s not worth anything if your partners don’t use it. It is not a matter of ‘build it and they will come’. You have to make sure that partners are aware of the tools that are available to them and persistently encourage them to take full advantage of these tools,” she said.
Involving end users before and throughout the construction process can help increase awareness of the portal, helping to drive adoption and ensure partners are looking in the right place for information. Capturing partner feedback early and frequently will help to better align the portal with partner needs.
Making your portal an essential part of your partners’ workday requires vigilantly ensuring content is up-to-date and relevant. Out of date information on products, processes, and solutions can create significant challenges within the partner-vendor relationship. As the market shifts and your business changes to meet customer demands, so too must your portal keep up so that partners are prepared. Frequent updates are a key precursor for success.
Going on this journey with your partners is one that Darren understands well.
“Right now, we're going through a revamp of our partner portal. In doing so, we gathered feedback from our partners, evaluated their experience with the portal, and did a complete content inventory. We took the feedback to heart, and now we're completely revamping our portal to create an even better user experience for partners, making it much easier for them to access the things they need,” she said.
3. Portal Management
It’s vital to remember the importance of the vendor experience as well. A partner portal that is simple for vendors to update is more likely to be current, providing the information and value partners are looking for on a day to day basis.
It’s for this reason that Liferay has been designed from the ground up for accessibility and ease of use, making it simple for vendors to make changes as they see fit, without specialist support.
“We built our partner portal using our own platform. A foundational element of Liferay is that non-technical users can update and administrate the portal. Staff can go into the portal, add content and update things for partners without needing to ask for IT help, or have an operational specialist on hand,” Darren said.
The result is a smooth flow of information from salespeople, marketers and subject matter experts to the portal (i.e. to partners).
4. Poor Presentation & Interoperability
Portals have the capacity to deliver information to a partner faster and with less effort than if they had directly contacted the vendor, but make it too difficult to find an answer to a question and they’ll default back to asking you directly, spending their time and yours.
“Chances are, you're going to have a lot of content that you're trying to deliver out to your partners. You want that to be easily found, managed, and organised in ways that make sense for the user,” she said.
Part of that organisation is integrating with the tools and systems partners are already familiar with.
“You want to have the ability to integrate with other technologies that you need in order to run the business with your partners,” Darren said.
“For example, Liferay integrates with Salesforce and Pardot because that's what we use. Without that, I would have an isolated portal that requires me to do uploads and downloads manually. As an example, with the integration between Liferay and Salesforce I’ve got two-way communication for opportunities registration. And you may have other things like legal contract review tools, or invoicing and payables software integrations. A good portal tool will support the types of integrations that you need in order to run the business with your partner.”
Setting the Stage for Success
Partner portals are fundamentally about saving time and effort. As such, it’s only natural that you would design your portal for your partners. Like a building or a business, your partner portal needs a strong foundation to ensure it’s fit for use and fit for purpose. Liferay is that foundation. A highly customisable platform that can be tailored for your business’ specific needs, Liferay empowers vendors to increase the value of their partnerships.
Rapidly capture partner feedback, bring multiple sites into a single multitenancy instance and deliver personalised content to partners based on their role, all natively with Liferay.
Want to learn more? Find out how a partner portal built on Liferay DXP provides more effective selling, an easy self-service experience and convenient access to assets. Request a live demo today to find out how Liferay could suit your business context.