Online adverts are flying around with the headline of “improve your partner experience” or PX for short. It seems to be the buzzword of the moment but what are they talking about?
It has long been the consensus that if you cater for the partner experience, you keep the partner and the partner will thrive.
What are these companies that emphasise the partner experience trying to say?
It seems to be coming from the vendors that are stuck in the traditional way of managing partners. Each partner has to go to the vendors website to login to a portal which is completely different to every other portal that they need to login to on a daily basis.
When you look at the average partner, they work with 20 vendors. Each of these vendors have a different portal and different processes with varying levels of functionality available in their portals. There is zero consistency across the board.
What the vendor sees as improved partner experience is not what the partners see as improved partner experience.
Let’s take a look at what your partners need to do on a daily basis.
Vendor A sends a lead to the partner. The partner has to go to the vendors website, login to the system and retrieve the lead from there. Whilst they are at it, they need to register a deal for another vendor, vendor B. This means going to vendor B’s website, logging in and submitting the registration details. During the same day, they want to do some marketing for another one of their vendor, vendor C, where they go to that website, login, scroll through the available assets and choose which one they think would be suitable for the campaign.
There is no consistency across the board with a vast amount of time taken up by navigating the different websites / portals of the companies that provide them with portals.
What are partners really looking for?
Simplicity is the key to everything. Keep it simple and keep the barrier to entry of doing business low and that’s how you win the partner!
What is the answer to partner experience?
What it is not, is a shiny, custom designed part of a vendors website that is built differently to every other vendors portal.
The answer is in the single pane of glass which has 100% consistency across the board.
A single login to one portal that has a collection of vendors that the partner works with where everything is available in the same places.
So, if everything is in one place, who owns the partner portal?
Adding to the partner experience, the partner side of the portal should be owned by the partner themselves and should be able to be manipulated by them so that they have all of their own vendors in their own system.
On another note, partners don’t want to search through a catalogue of content to choose which asset to share for a specific campaign. What they want is ease of use where the campaigns are already built for them and the leads just come rolling in via the activation of campaigns
Partner experience is not the process of having a “better” portal than the next vendor but instead making the life easier for the partner overall.
Traditional PRM / Channel management vendors that claim they improve the partner experience without adding to the ease of use for the partner are simply using buzz words with zero contribution towards the life of the partner.
What’s really needed?
Imagine a world where the the partner has on place to login to in order to manage all of their vendor and distributor relationships. This is the elusive single pane of glass. We know that traditional channel management vendors are trying to move towards this formula but are struggling to do so because of the way they have been built for years.
Whilst working with vendors previously, we have tested many PRM solutions and they are all trying to do the same things where the vendor owns the portal for their partners to access and nothing is tied together.
The way forward for the partner experience is to have a system that is linked to every vendor that the partner works with but segregated in a way as to not leak data.
The best approach is a bottom-up method. The partners have visibility on the layers above with the vendors only having visibility on what belongs to them.
Picture a portal where the reseller can login and have reach into all of the vendors that they work with from one place. All collateral, leads, campaigns, assets and pricing with margins pre-calculated.
Having worked as resellers previously, we understand the pain points of the partner very well.
Not a day goes by that we get vendors telling us that their partner portal isn’t working for them and their partners just don’t bother logging in.
Partner experience is all about making the life simple for the partner! Not having a shiny portal that nobody will ever login to because it’s too complex and nothing like what they are using with their other vendors.
This is particularly true when a new partnership is created. A partner signs up, logs in once and then never logs in again because it’s too complex for them.
If the partner has every vendor that they work with in one portal, this adds to the possibility of them working with the new vendors that they partner with because they are already logged into the system, albeit for another vendor.
Give ownership of the portal to the partner / distributor and move away from the attitude of it being all about the vendor and you will win the partners.
The partners may own their side of the system, but it still needs to remain simple for them to navigate and use. Partners don’t want to build up their own campaigns and they certainly don’t need to be managing deep settings for the systems. The majority of this should be managed by the vendor that they have in the system and the partner should be able to just select what they need, when they need.
The process for the new way of channel management is much simpler than it has ever been.
Let’s take a look at the process for this single pane of glass method:
The partner logs into their own portal and selects the vendor that they want to register a deal for. They submit the deal registration and subsequently notice a lead come in from another vendor. That lead is synced directly with their CRM system from their portal in a uniform manner. During the one login to the portal, they have a notification that a new campaign has been made available from another vendor that they work with, so they activate this campaign with one click and the leads start rolling into their portal, synced with their own CRM system, ready to be registered with the vendor that the campaign is for.
It’s true that if you improve the experience for your partners, you will have a more fruitful relationship with them.
There is a famous acronym called “KISS”. Keep it simple stupid!
This couldn’t be more true when it comes to making it easy for your partners to work with you.
What are you doing to improve the experience of your partners?
Have you used these traditional partner portals before?
What has the uptake been on the traditional portals?
Are you seeing the same as all of the vendors that we speak to? (Or are we just lucky to come across the vendors who traditional partner portals don’t work for?)