More and more companies are adopting Partner Relationship Management (PRM) systems to support and enable their channel partners. PRM systems are web-based software solutions that unify all facets of developing and managing a distribution channel into a single partner portal, and can greatly increase the management and effectiveness of the channel. But successfully launching a PRM system takes planning and effort.
There are pitfalls that can occur if the PRM portal is not launched well or managed well. Here is a list of seven pitfalls to avoid along with some easy fixes to ensure your new portal becomes the place to go for all of your channel partner users.
1. Partner Portal Not Launched with Excitement or Promotion
- No action plans to create enthusiasm or bring users to the site for the first time
- Portal launched with merely an announcement, no fanfare
- No discussion of features and benefits to the users
Easy Fix: Develop and execute a Marketing Plan for launch just like you launch a new product, with teasers, communications, feature/benefit discussion, incentives. Goal: create excitement to drive users to the new portal.
2. Not Enough Adequate Content Published With Partner Portal Launch
- Users arrive at site but very little content provided
- No training courses or certifications developed
- Resources from other areas not moved to the portal
Easy Fix: There must be adequate resources on the portal at launch to demonstrate the benefit to users. All current assets needed that are in other locations should be transferred to the portal. Some new content should be developed specifically for the portal launch to show users the potential it brings.
SEE ALSO: Challenges to Effective Channel Sales
3. Portal Managed by Another Department/No Accountability
- Portal responsibility rests within another department (e.g. IT), not the department using it
- No one-person responsibility/accountability for the portal or its content
Easy Fix: If it’s a Service portal, it needs to be managed by the Service Group. If it’s a Finance portal, the responsibility and accountability needs to rest with the Finance Department. The portal is an extension of the department’s communication, marketing and training efforts and that’s where the overall responsibility for the portal must reside.
4. Portal Not a True Portal
- Other stand-alone sites not linked or incorporated into the portal
- Users must still go “elsewhere” to get what they need
Easy Fix: ALL programs, notices, bulletins and important applications and assets must be posted on the portal. The portal should have links to all sites a user needs. All communications about other sites should provide navigation information starting at the portal, not the site URL. A user must learn to go to the portal home page FIRST to find what they need. When they learn this, the portal becomes a True Portal.
5. Portal Assets Not Kept Up-to-Date
- Outdated materials not removed from the portal database
- “Old” content shows users that the portal is not important enough to be managed well
- New content not immediately posted on the portal
Easy Fix: For users to become confident in the new portal, it must be managed well. Remove (or archive) old content when it’s no longer needed. Post new programs on the portal BEFORE the program is announced so users know they can go to the portal for the information, and it will be there. Portals require good housekeeping, just like any important site or application.
6. Not Using Portal Forums Effectively
- Forums or blogs not developed
- No means to collect and share best practices
- No development of a sense of “community”
Easy Fix: A good partner portal provides a Collaboration component. If developed and used, collaborative forums and blogs can be an excellent means to develop a “community” of users and spread best practice ideas quickly and efficiently. Don’t ignore this important component.
7. Portal Not Treated Like Your “Public” Website
- Portal management becomes an afterthought
- Not treated as a true asset of the department
- Responsibility for the portal is far away from the management of the department
Easy Fix: Treat your portal like you would your “public” website. Manage it, market it, keep it up-to-date and filled with new and exciting content. Always think about how it can be improved for the user. Companies today wouldn’t think about letting their public website decline from inactivity or focus. The same applies to your portal!
Remember! Optimizing your partner portal will provide your channel partners with the information and tools that make it easier for them to do business with you. This will lead to mindshare and more revenues.