How do I get Partners to use the Partner Portal?

Drive Channel Partner Portal Usage

In the Channel Expert Office Hours series, channel expert Raegan Wilson answers questions about channel management. You can submit your own questions for Raegan by sending us an email.

How do I get my partners to use our partner portal?

The answer to the question starts with a set of questions about your program and portal:

  1. Do partners know the portal exists and how it benefits them?
  2. Is the portal personalized and relevant to partners?
  3. Is the portal being updated regularly?
  4. Are there things that benefit partners and can only be accessed or accomplished within the portal?
  5. Does your behavior encourage partner portal usage?
  6. Is the portal easy to use?

If you answered no to any of these questions you have some work to do. Here are suggestions for each area:

Do partners know the portal exists and how it benefits them?

Partners need to be informed about your portal and how it benefits them:

  • Give them reminders of these benefits and any updates or enhancements that are made.
  • Certain program elements like training and content should only be made available via the portal.
  • Make sure that your internal teams are referencing the portal in their partner communications.

Is the portal personalized and relevant to partners?

One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for partner portals. Partners should be grouped into categories each with their own experience that aligns with the things the partner groups need. Personalization goes a long way. Irrelevant content will raise a red flag to partners and show that you are not aligned with their goals. Tailor your  home page to the audience with calls to action relevant to the visitor, considering partner type, tier, role, and sales motion.

Is the portal being updated regularly?

The quickest way to turn off a partner is to have out-of-date content front and center. While this seems elementary, the lack of updates and take-down of outdated content is a big problem.

  • Take down those old promotions, registration pages and product details and replace them with current content.
  • Have a well-defined process for adding and removing content.
  • Don’t load up the portal with content for the sake of adding content.
  • Be deliberate and focused with the message that your content sends and filter – if it isn’t relevant, don’t add it.
  • Create a centralized portal content calendar to plan content themes and keep updates consistent.

Are there things that benefit partners and can only be accessed or accomplished within the portal?

The portal should provide value to the partner and this needs to be communicated.

  • Partners need to understand clearly why they need to use the portal.
  • Drive overall usage by having critical program elements depend on the portal. Things like opportunity management, training, promotions, and communications can be very valuable components of the portal.
  • Make sure that the portal becomes the primary mechanism for communications to drive usage.
  • Link to the portal from your newsletter and partner communications.
  • Have your partner managers add the portal link to their email signatures and make sure that they understand why the partners should use the portal instead of manually doing the work or sending the content.

Does your behavior encourage partner portal usage?

The way you manage your partner relationships and program activities can influence your partners’ level of engagement with your portal. While it might be easy for you to register the deal on a partner’s behalf or email them the latest price list, doing things for your partners teaches dependency and discourages them to do things themselves in the portal. The last thing you want is your internal teams sending content or taking action for a partner that can be done self service via the portal. Even though getting partners to use your partner portal will take more effort initially than doing things for them, in the long run it’s the only way to build portal engagement – and it helps with program scalability too!

Is the portal easy to use?

It is likely that you think the answer to this question is yes because portal tools are easy to use, but have you made it hard for your partners to find what they need?

  • Check your current portal for internal company naming conventions, acronyms, and verbiage that might be confusing to new partners. Remember that partners do not always know your internal processes so it is critical to name content and elements in your portal in terms your partners will understand.
  • Keep your portal from becoming a dumping ground. Content should be organized in a way that’s logical for partners – this could be different from how you organize  content internally.
  • Ask your partners for usability input and fix any issues they bring up.

While there isn’t a secret recipe to driving portal usage, getting these six areas right will get your partners aligned with the benefits your portal has to offer.