February 15, 2017

The Partner Portal

Many organizations wish to have other organizations (partners) sell their product for them.

When trying to establish sales or distribution partnerships, it is important to remember that the distribution partner’s sales organization needs the same care and feeding as your own sales organization.  The big differences are that you do not have constant access to them, they have many other products to sell besides yours and they are not educated or motivated to accurately represent you in the market.  So, training these people becomes critical.  One of the best methods for doing this is by building a Partner Portal.  This is a password protect portal (for each unique partner) with all (or at least most) of the things they will need to be successful.  The portal should include:

  • A description of your product
  • Your target market
  • Your ideal customer profile (characteristics that make a good prospect)
  • The problems you solve for these customers
  • Positioning of the product versus alternatives
  • Sales presentation
  • Video demo
  • FAQ’s that they will get from prospects
  • Defensible differentiation
  • Potential prospect objections and counters to those objections
  • Case studies of relevant existing customers
  • Technology overview
  • Science behind your product (if applicable)
  • Sample reports and/or outcomes that can be expected
  • Prior webinar recordings
  • Order sheet and/or price list
  • Proposal template
  • How to cost-justify your solution
  • A way to register leads
  • Contact sheet of your key people if they have questions
  • Relevant eBooks, blog posts or other literature
  • Promotional plan for customer’s use of the product (where applicable)
  • Sample customer list

If the partner is also handling implementations you may also want to have:

  • Implementation guidelines (roles and responsibilities and time frames)
  • Sample Statement of Work
  • Again, the promotional plan can be critical to this effort

The Partner Portal should be covered under your confidentiality agreement with your partner and, obviously, you may not want to include all of the materials above if the partner also sells your competitors product.

In addition to the Partner Portal it is recommended that you conduct quarterly webinars for partners where you can provide updates, further training, answer questions and discuss product releases and new products.  You may also feature the partner sale of the quarter where you highlight a partner sale, how it benefited the partner and how the sales person got the deal.

Remember that servicing the partner’s sales organization is the critical driver of success.  Getting a partner to sign a distribution agreement is less than half the battle.  Getting the partner sales organization motivated and educated with the ability to actually sell your product is the hard part.  And, if they do not represent you properly, you may lose that prospective buyer forever since they will think that they already evaluated you.  And, the sales person is likely to get discouraged and not try again.

For more information on establishing a Partnership Program or building a partner portal that generates revenue, please contact me at arbordakota@me.com.