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5 Ways to Engage Partners by Going Beyond Partner Portal Software

Partner portal software is a vital tool for businesses that rely on indirect sales and external services to drive growth and maintain customer satisfaction. What used to be just a basic partner website or app, though, is swiftly changing as we move into the era of engaged, personalized partner ecosystems. Today’s partner portals are just one tool of many in a strategic, purpose-built partnership relationship management platform.  

When engaging with your partners, resellers, affiliates, distributors, or other third parties, it’s time to go beyond the expected. Delight your partners with features that engage them within the process, build loyalty, make it easier for them to find information on-demand, and allow them to access co-branded marketing campaigns with a click.  

In this article, you’ll learn what a partner portal does, its main benefits, and what the next generation of partnership relationship management tools offer.  

👉 What you’ll find:

What does partner portal software do?  

A partner portal is a web or app-based solution that allows businesses to store information to push out to their third-party partners. In most, partners can access shared information, resources, and tools, making it easier for them to sell the company’s products and services. 

For example, partner portal software may contain the following resources:  

  • Marketing materials, such as printable brochures or social media graphics 
  • Pricing sheets  
  • Product information and specifications 
  • Basic training and certification documents 
  • Contact and support information  

Typically, partner portal solutions lack functionality, such as deal registration and market development fund (MDF) management, which is where PRM platforms enter the mix. The exact content and functionality included on a partner portal will vary depending on the company and industry, but the goal is always to provide partners with the resources they need to successfully sell or service a company’s products or services.  

Partner portals vs. PRM software  

Partner portal software and partner relationship management (PRM) software are two distinct but related tools that companies use to manage their relationships with partners. 

Partner portal software refers to a tool that enables partners to access information and resources from a company, such as sales and marketing materials, training materials, and support. It can also facilitate collaboration between partners and the company. 

On the other hand, PRM software optimizes partner lifecycle management at every stage of ecosystem growth. A PRM includes a portal within it, while also addressing the limitations of standalone portal solutions. A comprehensive, purpose-built PRM solution includes partner portal functionality but also offers other features, such as:  

  • Automated, personalized partner onboarding journeys  
  • Pipeline management that syncs directly with a CRM 
  • Training courses and certification management   
  • Performance tracking and tiering  
  • Co-branded marketing campaigns  
  • Advanced analytics and reporting  

In general, PRM software provides a more strategic approach to managing and growing partner relationships. A partner portal is part of that, but on its own, focuses only on providing partners with the basic resources they need to sell products or services.  

What are the benefits of using partner portal software?  

Often, a partner portal or website is the quickest way to get sales and marketing information into the hands of your front-line partners, resellers, or affiliates. These portals are built to be easily accessed from a computer or phone, allowing your partners to find information for customers.  

When set up well, partner portal software benefits can include the following:  

  • Higher partner engagement and satisfaction: Avoid ghost or underperforming partners by equipping them with information they’ll actually need to close deals. With that information provided upfront, partner portal software enables your partner managers to strengthen their relationships with partners and encourage collaboration. 
  • Communication made easier: Just updated your pricing sheets? Rolled out a new product? Too often, partner managers send information or updates via email. Partner portal software enables businesses to streamline their operations by automating these manual sends and providing a central go-to location for all partner-related updates and information. 
  • Bringing in the ROI: Partner portals help businesses generate more sales by empowering partners to sell their products more effectively, giving them the information they need to close deals. 

As we’ll discuss below, these benefits are just the beginning. By going beyond a portal with a dedicated PRM platform, you’ll be able to ditch the spreadsheets entirely and focus on growing your partner ecosystem into a competitive differentiator in your industry.  

🔎 Discover more: Read about the five most important partner portal best practices to prioritize this year! 

What do you need in your partner portal software?  

Dedicated partner portals are an essential feature of any PRM platform. These portals enable partners to access critical information about your products and services.  

At a minimum, partner portal software should have the following features to be effective: 

  • User-friendly interface that's easy to navigate 
  • Secure login and authentication 
  • Customizable branding and layout to your brand 
  • Shared content library for marketing and sales assets 
  • Collaboration tools, like messaging and document sharing 
  • Reporting and analytics to track performance 
  • Integration with other business systems and tools 

As you prepare to go beyond the partner portal to build a more engaged partner ecosystem, look for these key features in your next-generation PRM solution.  

1. Smart customization and automation options  

It’s time to do more with less work, for both you and your partners.  

Less of a feature and more of a mindset, look for partner tools that are built with seamless automation in mind. This allows you to leverage your partner managers’ time into more complex or strategic tasks, versus manual spreadsheet maintenance or answering the same questions over and over again by email.  

Further, your PRM software should allow you to customize your partners’ portal according to your program's requirements, such as branding, logos, style, and color schemes. Every time your partners interact with your brand, they should have a consistent experience.  

The best PRM solutions enable you to effortlessly manage your entire partner ecosystem, end-to-end, in a single platform.  

2. Easier lead tracking and deal management  

Set up your partners to act as an extension of your sales team. Your PRM software should be able to track the status of your partners’ leads and deals in real-time, providing you with insights into your indirect sales performance. Likewise, the best PRM tools allow partners to check their own metrics in a personalized dashboard.  

Look for solutions that allow you to:  

  • Track lead close rates 
  • Delegate new leads to partners  
  • Track campaign-related ROI  
  • Sync information directly with your CRM and other systems

With purpose-built platforms like Impartner, you’ll be able to send leads to the right partners at the right time. Avoid any missed lead opportunities by assigning leads to the next partner in the queue if they’re not picked up in time. 

3. Streamlined content co-branding  

As noted, your partner software should provide a portal for you to upload and manage all of your program's content, including training materials, videos, marketing assets, and other important documentation. This feature ensures that your partners have access to the latest and most up-to-date program information. 

Next-generation tools take this a step further with on-demand co-branding tools built into the platform. Even partners who don’t have their own marketing teams can create professional quality artwork with their own logos and contact information to use as leave-behinds, data sheets, product brochures, competitive guides, web banners and more, in just a few clicks. 

You can also host content by partner type, language, location, and more so that as you scale, you keep partners informed. Communicate with your global partners, with personalization and localization built-in.  

Ready to see the future? With Impartner, you can design paid ads campaigns on behalf of your partners, set up social posts at a click, and send personalized emails worldwide. Learn how Siemens used a PRM platform to rapidly expand their partner communications.  

4. Onboarding and training at a click 

Adding new partners to your ecosystem? A PRM solution allows you to onboard new partners quickly and easily into your partner portal. Your PRM software should include a streamlined onboarding process for new partners to ensure they are familiar with your program's requirements and expectations. Lead new partners through an automated process to apply for your partner program, fill out forms, and set up their user accounts.  

For training, a dry PowerPoint presentation that’s created for every partner worldwide doesn’t exactly inspire loyalty. Instead, look for solutions with personalized, guided journeys based on their needs. With the right training program, partners can improve their knowledge and skills, enabling them to sell your products and services more effectively. 

5. Integrated reporting and analytics  

Look for PRM software that tracks partner performance in real-time and at a glance. Customizable dashboards should provide your team and your partners with a personalized experience, enabling everyone to quickly access the information they need to be successful.   

This enables your partnerships team to identify trends, track partner KPIs, and make data-driven decisions with your wider organization. It can also help you build incentive programs to reward top performers and motivate underperforming partners.  

Finally, integrations with other software, such as your CRM or marketing automation platforms, should be present to ensure seamless, automated data flow between your other tools.  

Build your partner ecosystem with Impartner 

Partner portal software is an essential tool for businesses who have an indirect sales program, but to build true partner engagement, increase program efficiencies, and drive revenue growth, look for a partner relationship management solution.  

Each day millions of partners in nearly every industry across the globe access Impartner. Why? Because the partner experience matters and leading organizations agree.  

Impartner is the fastest-growing, most award-winning partner management solution provider on the market. Our partner relationship management and through channel marketing automation solutions help companies accelerate revenue and profitability through their indirect sales channels at every partner lifecycle touchpoint. Automate your co-branding efforts, create personalized training journeys, and track partner performance, all in one platform.  

Need to accelerate your partnerships? We’re ready when you are. 

About the Author

Impartner is the fastest-growing, most award-winning provider of partner management and partner marketing automation solutions. We've been around for decades, and were the first to coin the term "PRM". Today, over 40,000 users leverage Impartner to manage millions of partners within their ecosystem of distributors, resellers, and more. We draw on decades of experience with best practices in the channel to create content that helps partnership leaders grow their careers and scale their programs.

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