Partner Portal Checklist: Your Buying Guide for 2024
Purchasing a partner portal or PRM system is a big investment. With the wealth of options out there, picking the right partner portal (or opting to build one) can feel overwhelming.
Getting your selection wrong can lead to poor outcomes for your program — or even a rip and replace — down the line. So before you start scouring the web for technologies, it’s critical to think through what you absolutely need to properly manage, engage, and enable your partners.
And we’ve done some of that work for you. Use the portal checklist below to identify the nice-to-haves and must-haves for your next partner program investment.
Your Partner Portal Checklist
We’ve divided the checklist into two areas, one with specific partner portal modules and functionality, and the other with more general requirements that apply to all areas of your channel portal.
Partner Portal Modules and Functionality
Use this checklist to make sure your channel portal has all the functionality you need to support your partner program components. Omit the modules you don’t need.
☐ Resource Library: A resource library will house myriad information, like one-sheets, presentations, competitive information, and sales enablement to help the partner correctly position and sell the vendor’s solution. When evaluating a PRM’s library, ask how the information is structured and what granularity you have with permissions. Remember, what may be appropriate content for one type of partner may not be applicable to another. A good resource library will give you the ability to set those permissions, all the way down to the individual partner level.
☐ Deal Registration System: If you’re going to market with your partners and collaborating on opportunities, Deal Reg is a non-negotiable. The best Deal Registration modules should allow partners to provide information on joint prospects and request sales support from the vendor. Partners and your own internal sales reps should be able to update registrations as new information becomes available to give all teams access to the most up-to-date pipeline information.
☐ Referrals: Many companies give partners the opportunity to send potential customers their way and provide commission if they win the deal. Look for a PRM with a flexible referral management module with built-in workflows for managing acceptance and commission payment. It should also make providing referrals simple, intuitive, and quick. For example, some PRMs enable partners to generate personalized links to share with prospects.
☐ Partner Management: Partner portals need a comprehensive partner management system so that partner managers can track active and prospective partners, maintain contracts, note key points of contact, maintain partner profiles and scorecards, and monitor recruitment efforts. Storing and reviewing these key points of information helps you effectively and proactively determine the recruitment and retention strategies that work, and evaluate your partner ecosystem at large.
☐ Training & Certification: Partners need guidance to sell your products effectively. The best PRMs have a training and certification module that supports online learning content in SCORM, AICC, cmi5 or xAPI formats. It should also allow users to create lessons with videos, rich text, images, and downloadable files, tests to certify knowledge, and reports to track training activity.
☐ Email Marketing: Keeping partners engaged and using the Portal can be a challenge without built-in nudges. Use a PRM that has an email marketing module to send personalized, highly-targeted email messages based on partners’ interests, new promotions, new product launches, and new content.
☐ Co-branded Collateral: Co-branded decks and one-sheets present a unified GTM motion but can take time and effort to create. Find a PRM with a co-branded collateral module that allows you to upload unlimited PDFs for your partners to customize with their logos and taglines on their own time.
☐ Business Planning: Templated business plans help partner managers accurately and quickly plan go-to-market activities with milestones for themselves and their partners. Including business planning as part of your overall portal keeps everyone on track and committed to their goals.
☐ MDF Management: If MDFs are a component of your partner program, you and your partners need an accurate account of available funds, a report of what money has been requested or rejected, and the results of comarketing activities. Making this information transparent gives you and your partners a common understanding of what marketing programs and funds are available throughout the year.
☐ Lead Distribution: Partner managers must be able to accurately track which leads have been passed to which partners and when. That way, they can properly follow up and avoid potential channel conflict.
☐ CRM Integration: Your sales team is constantly in your CRM system. Therefore, your partner portal should integrate with HubSpot or Salesforce at deal registration and lead distribution levels to track channel activity and pipeline.
Other Partner Portal Considerations
This second checklist covers general features that your partner portal should include for best results.
☐ Self-service: You should be able to set up your PRM quickly — without IT or professional services. It should be easy for them to make necessary changes whenever partner tiers, partner requirements, company branding, or partner territories change. Self-service PRMs typically have point-and-click back-end settings that empower admins to modify the portal in real-time.
☐ Documentation: Find a PRM that has a wealth of support documentation admins can refer back to at any time. This knowledge base should serve as a how-to guide, explaining the ins and outs of every module with screenshots and videos for extra clarity.
☐ Security & Compliance: Partner programs are built on trust. To keep partner data safe, make sure your PRM has out-of-the-box security features and participates in regular independent audits and/or holds a SOC 2, Type II attestation. Your platform should also comply with GDPR, CCPA, and other privacy regulations.
☐ Easy Integrations: As you build out your partner program, you may want to integrate with marketing automation tools, L&D platforms, or other applications. Look for a PRM with a fully documented API, SSO capabilities, and connections with integration platforms like Zapier.
☐ Collaboration and Communication Features: A key component to any partner program is to keep at the “top of mind” of the channel partner. A partner portal with a variety of automated and manual communication features can make face-time with partners more meaningful and strategically focused.
☐ Intuitive Permission Structure: Not all partners need access to the same modules and materials. It Make sure it’s easy for admins to create new groups of partners with specific permissions. Some PRMs allow you to simplify and automate the way you set access permissions with predefined rules.
There are a few other items to consider in your PRM search as well, such as:
- Integration with marketing automation systems or other marketing resources to market with and through your partners
- Chat functionality
- Quoting support
- Ease of integration into proprietary applications
All of these additional features are aimed at making your portal the one-stop shop for all supporting materials for your partners.
Properly understanding your requirements and what the average partner demands can help you narrow your focus to the best channel management solutions available and make the right choice for the business. We hope our checklist is helpful in your partner portal journey.
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