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What is a Partner Hub and why do you need to add it to your tech stack?

10 min read By August 15, 2022 No Comments

If you work in channel, chances are you have a pretty decent tech stack. Problem is, all those platforms exist in a realm of their own. If only there was a way for them to integrate and speak to each other.

A rough sketch of your current tech stack: Marketing automation tools, CRM, a partner portal. The more tech-savvy, will also be familiar with partner engagement and ecosystem software.

But do you ever get that nagging feeling that things could be better, run smoother, offer advanced insights?

It’s the missing link that ties together everything from your first campaign brainstorm right through to your final analysis: and it’s called a Partner Hub.

Helping you navigate new tech in a time crunch

How many conversations do you need to go have before you can sign off on new tech? 10-20-30? In this article, we’ll be going through the traditional, current, and future tech stack.

We’ll help you decide what to focus on now and in the future. So that you can prioritize – and won’t need to have 13 conversations with 13 different companies before committing to a new SaaS platform.

Skip ahead to the bits you need to know:

Marketing Automation
CRM
Partner Portal
Partner Ecosystem
Through-Channel Marketing
Partner Hub

4 common problems channel teams encounter

  • Find, activate, and promote highly-engaged partners but don’t know how to find them
  • Have a through-channel marketing strategy that not only syndicates content but allows partners to create their own assets and value propositions
  • Get campaign data and feedback from partners and their systems but encounter a black box instead
  • Struggle to engage more than 10% of partners through their partner portal

Ok, let’s break it down. What does the ideal tech stack for channel marketers look like in the past, present, and future?

Traditional tech stack for channel marketers 

Marketing automation

What is marketing automation software?

According to G2:

“Marketing automation software automates marketing actions or tasks, streamlines marketing workflows, and measures the outcomes of marketing campaigns. These tools provide a central marketing database for all marketing information and interactions, helping marketers create segmented, personalized, and timely marketing experiences for customers or prospects.”

In short, marketing automation platforms help marketers set up, send out, and analyze marketing campaigns.

How can marketing automation tools help channel teams? 

With partnerships coming out the wazoo, having marketing automation in place is an absolute must. Hyper-personalized marketing is easy enough when you have tools that fish your customers’ name, email, and professional from a list.

But could you imagine doing this by hand?

Ok, so marketing automation helps you automate these tasks, leaving time to actually craft great content and work on your partner program. But even marketing automation tools have their caveats.

Such as actually knowing how to work with the tools – we employ a bonafide Hubspot wizard here at Channext. Other issues can include sub-par data sets, undeliverable emails, relying too much on email as a channel, the list goes on.

Who are the leading marketing automation vendors?

CRM

What is CRM software? 

According to G2 “CRM (customer relationship management) software tracks and manages customer relationships. It records interactions between a business, its prospects, and its existing customers. CRM software products place all relevant customer data like contact information, history, and transaction summaries into a concise live record.”

In short, CRM-software enriches customer data.

How does CRM software help channel teams?

CRM software is used by sales teams, often integrated with marketing automation tools. CRMs are how to track end-users and end-user data.
The problem with traditional CRMs is that they are not built for partner-led sales. They are inherently built for direct sales.

This means CRMs require a lot of manual work for channel partners. When a sale is done through a partner, it does not automatically show up in your CRM. Partners need to access your partner portal to log sales manually. This leads not only to a massive waste of time, but also to unreliable data.

CRM vs PRM

In addition to a CRM, many partner-led companies offer a PRM (Partner Relationship Management software). This comes complete with a Partner Portal – discussed below.

Who are the leading CRM vendors?

Partner Portal or Partner Relationship Management Software (PRM)

What is a Partner Portal?

G2 has this to say “[…] tools to track sales partners and affiliates, and for those partners to communicate with and receive support from the business. Partner management software provides a private portal for each partner, where they can access documents, campaign materials, market development funds (MDF), opportunities, and deals. “

In short, Partner Portals are designed as the all-in-one place for partners to access and log everything vendor related.

How does a partner portal help channel teams? 

Partner Portals, if used correctly, can be a great way to onboard, activate, and engage partners. It’s where partners can go to follow training to rise up the ranks, where they register their deals, and where campaign content lives.

Without a Partner Portal, channel sales and marketing teams would need to hand-feed their partners training materials, GTMs, and campaigns. With Partner Portals, partners are expected to pro-actively search for what they need.

Problem is, they don’t do this. Especially when it comes to the marketing part. Due to increasing pressure to increase revenue, partners inherently lack the time, resources – and often marketing know-how – to execute marketing campaigns.

So Partner Portals – and the millions invested in them – go to waste. With beautifully-crafted campaigns never seeing the light of day.

How to make sure your Partner Portal is delivering. 

LMS & Enablement within the Partner Portal

You probably require partners to go through some form of training and certification before being eligible to sell your products or services. And more in order to move up the ranks and become silver, gold, or platinum partners. Many partner portals offer training and other forms of partner enablement as part of the package.

Who are the leading partner portal vendors?

Contemporary tech stack for channel marketers

Partner Ecosystem Platform

What is a Partner Ecosystem Platform (PEP)? 

According to G2: “Partner ecosystems are often extensive and can be difficult to manage since each channel partner has their own unique sales strategies. Partner ecosystem platforms help manage all of these channel partners by better coordinating go-to-market strategies, streamlining workflows, comparing shared customers, and discovering new partnership opportunities within one platform.”

In short, partner ecosystem software allows partners to communicate and collaborate.

How do Partner Ecosystem Platforms help channel teams? 

Partner ecosystem software is designed to help vendors get a unified message out to their partners, identify customer overlap between partners, and vet new partners. By stimulating partners to collaborate and co-sell, both the vendor’s and partners’ offer is strengthened.

Who are the leading Partner Engagement/ ecosystem vendors?

Through-channel marketing software

What is through-channel marketing software?

G2: “Through-channel marketing software enables brands to connect their channel marketers, channel partners (e.g., retailers, agents, distributors, resellers, etc.), and agencies to execute scalable marketing programs. This type of software makes it easier for companies to set up customizable content experiences by local marketers or channel partners, as well as execute digital marketing campaigns on behalf of a business. “

In short, Through-channel marketing software helps channel teams syndicate marketing campaigns.

How can through-channel marketing software help channel teams?

Through-channel marketing platforms helps automate certain parts of the process. As channel partners are constantly strapped for time and resources, having ready-made campaigns delivered to them and their end-users is a Godsend. It means less relying on bulky partner portals, and more personalized campaigns.

While through-channel marketing platforms are a huge step forward, they still miss certain functionalities. Such as lead-tracking, information exchange between vendors and partners, and the ability to really measure partner participation and engagement. That’s where the future tech stack, and more specifically, the Partner Hub, comes in.

Who are the leading through-channel marketing software vendors?

Future tech stack for channel marketers

The Partner Hub 

What is a Partner Hub?

In essence, a Partner Hub is a marketplace for partners to collaborate better with their vendors. With thousands of partners and vendors able to connect, collaborate, and pursue channel marketing and sales together.

A Partner Hub is the missing link between your traditional tools such as the portal on the one side, and your CRM and marketing automation on the other side. It offers both through-channel marketing automation, and to-partner marketing.

Not only is it a way to increase partner engagement. It’s ultimately a way to boost your revenue and your partners’ revenue.

How does a Partner Hub help channel teams?

10x your partner participation. Using our Partner Hub we have seen the percentage of partners actively participating in their vendor campaigns increase from under 10 to 72 % on average. Typically, managed and platinum-status partners will participate more, while unmanaged partners just don’t have the time, resources, or marketing knowledge. With Channext, all partners get access to marketing resources. While it’s still possible to aim campaigns at certain verticals or partner statuses.

Get insights into your partners’ systems. You want to know how many clicks, likes, shares, etc. your campaigns are getting when posted to your partners’ websites and social media profiles. But CRMs and portals don’t allow you behind the scenes. With Channext you’ll get real-time insights. This allows a constant feedback loop between vendors and partners. Making it easy to know where and how to improve.

Increase partner engagement. What do partners that participate in vendor campaigns and have a constant feedback loop with their vendors lead to? You guessed it, highly-engaged partners.

How does Channext work?

Partners connect their website and social media channels to get through-channel marketing campaigns offered straight to their end-users. Always-on campaigns means hassle-free marketing for partners. This leads to more visibility for you and your partners.

Partners can customize and personalize campaigns, and create their own.

The Partner Hub even has a feedback section built in. This ensures vendors and partners can communicate in real-time about current, future, and past campaigns. Allowing you to improve or amend as you go.

How does Channext differ from partner portals? 

What makes Channext different from traditional partner portals?

Channext is a partner-driven platform. We allow partners to manage all their vendors from one place. That means they no longer need to log in to partner portals, find and download campaign assets, create landing pages and social posts, etc.

Partners execute a one-time opt-in. Then up-to-date vendor campaigns are automatically distributed on their website and social media channels. Of course, they are able to customize (and even create their own) posts to suit their specific needs.

Because Channext is integrated with your partners’ social channels and websites, you can get real-time insights without your partners needing to upload anything. And yes, in case you were wondering, it’s all completely GDPR-compliant.

So next time you’re stuck wondering how to combine all the best bits from your CRM, Marketing Automation, Partner Portals, Channel Ecosystem, and Through-Channel Marketing platforms, look no further than the Partner Hub.

Cassandra Pizzey

Cassandra Pizzey

A Channexteer since 2021, Cassandra has been copywriting for the past 10-years, broadening her horizon as content marketer since entering the B2B SaaS industry. Connect with Cassandra on LinkedIn for more.

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