A digital connection with your partners and the end customer is more important than ever for vendors. A well-known digital connection within channels is the partner portal, which has been used within channels for more than 20 years. But partner portals are hardly used (especially for marketing), and a lot of opportunities and high-quality marketing campaigns are wasted because of it.
The partner portal. It’s an online portal for all communication between vendors and partners. Vendors use it for amongst others: partner training, lead management, deal registration, MDF Co-Op Fund management, and last but not least: to offer marketing assets to partners. Do you need it for your channel? Absolutely. Does it work for channel marketing and lead generation? Absolutely not.
I’ve spoken to dozens of channel managers and channel marketers, many of them saw their headquarters invest 100.000s of euros in ‘a new partner portal that will change the way we cooperate with our partners’. My first question always is: “And, do you see an increase of partner usage? Are partners using it the way you want it now?” More than 95% of the answers read: “No, nothing has changed.” How is that possible?
Channels offline vs. channels online
It still amazes me to see the difference of how channels are operating offline vs. how channels are operating online. Let’s take a look at it.
Most vendors have large channel teams with multiple partner managers that are putting a lot of effort to stay top-of-mind with the partners and their end customers. They call them, they email them, they visit them. The vendor does everything to make sure that the partners have the right information (brochures) and resources to sell to the end customer.
Vendors know that they have to invest in their channel, and allocate their resources and partner managers to actively engage the partners.
Online we see the complete opposite. Vendors create a partner portal, upload all their important information and marketing materials to the portal and wait for partners to pick it up themselves. Partners have to log in, download the content and then need to find out how they can place it on their own website and marketing channels.
The result? Partners don’t do this, so marketing assets aren’t used which leads to a low ROI on channel marketing assets. And you can’t blame them…
How are partners supposed to keep up?
Try looking at it from a partner’s perspective. Most partners don’t just want to sell a product to the end customer, they want to add value to the end customer and provide a complete solution. To provide a complete solution, partners need multiple vendors.
Most partners have at least 10 vendors. That means 10 partner portals, 10 usernames & passwords to remember, 10 quarterly campaigns to keep track of and share with the end customer. It’s impossible to keep up, especially when considering that most partners don’t have the resources or the knowledge to execute online marketing.
It’s time to do things differently.
The future of channel demand generation
To make channel demand generation future-proof, a mindset shift is necessary. Vendors and partners must align the way they work together online and offline. Just like they have channel managers offline, vendors also need a ‘virtual channel manager’ for their channel.
The virtual channel manager actively visits the partner websites and marketing channels of the partners to assure that important information and marketing campaigns reach the end customer. This results in more leads and revenue for the partners, and a flourishing channel for the vendor.
Would you like to discuss the value of your partner portal or get to know how the virtual channel manager works? Please shoot me a message!
Rick van den Bosch