Imagine this: your channel partners don't have business processes in place that drive your organization to success. Shipments are being missed, quality levels are dropping, employee turnover in the channels is high, and expenses are increasing. Within your own business, management is fighting every fire with the best of their ability, but are feeling the burn from partners regardless. Why haven’t your channel partners fixed their problems before channel conflict ensues? It's safe to say PRM best practices are not being implemented.Step Back - Take a Deep Breath
This nightmare is simply a business that has not properly implemented a partner relationship management (PRM) solution using a Unified Partner Portal Application. No matter what part of the distribution chain this business is in, this situation is one everyone wants to avoid. However, there is more to the solution than setting up a portal and sharing the web address through your channels; it takes a full commitment to the practice of Partner Relationship Management to be effective. What could happen this commitment is absent?
Lack of Enthusiasm at Launch
Your channel partners need to know that you are serious about partner relationship management, and they need to understand its usefulness to channel conflict management. Build positive enthusiasm and energy while communicating how everyone will realize increased sales, better profits, and reduced expenses if all are on the same page through the partner relationship management portal. If there is no up-front buy-in, your partner relationship management portal will not realize adequate return on investment.
Shortage of Content at Launch
Your partners may get excited and get their employees to log in; but if there is no relevant content for them to use, all of your promotions will be for naught. Place content that will positively impact every partner in your channel—from training and marketing materials to schedules and certifications. Make sure every partner relationship management portal page has some applicable content ready to use.
Dumping the responsibility on IT to keep the portal running separates it from those who can truly make it useful. While IT can get the portal up and running, it's the business unit that needs to take charge and have the access, loaded with the right information for each user role within the dealer/distributor network.
Not a Useful Portal
If the only purpose of your partner relationship management portal is to list a series of links to other sites, it is not a real portal. For true partner relationship management, the portal should have its own set of materials that are incorporated internally. Links that send your users elsewhere do not provide truly relevant data—and send them away from your system! The portal itself should stand alone as a viable source for your channel partners.
Assets are Dated
If information within the portal is not kept current, the usefulness diminishes rapidly. Confusion erupts, inaccurate data is passed around, and ultimately the relationship management is depreciated.
Forums and Blogs become Ineffective
If forums or blogs are viewed as unnecessary parts of a portal, they will indeed become useless. Instead, make sure they are set up in order to build community and solutions-sharing.
Portals that are treated as lower priority maintenance items are doomed to spiral into an obsolete tool. Put partner relationship management portal maintenance on a routine schedule and stick to it as a part of your commitment to your network's future success.