Whenever I talk with a prospect, I ask them about their efforts at activating and connecting with channel partners. One of the questions I always ask, is if they have deployed a portal for their partners to access, and if so what the results were.
One thing that always astounds me is when I ask about the participation rate on that portal. IE: How many partners log-in, how often, and what do they look at. The most common answer to these questions is that they don’t have that information to hand. The sad reality is that these statistics are typically so low as to be too embarrassing to even talk about, particularly after the time and money that has been invested in this facility by the marketing department.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against partner portals. They are potentially an incredibly useful resource for communicating in an organized manner with your partners. They automate many of the routine tasks that you might have to do over and over of you did not have one. Like giving out pricing or product information. Assuming partners used them, the marketing department would relieve large burdens from the channel management folks by keeping good, current, well organized information in the partner portal. So why then is it that sales people (partners) simply don’t log in to these portals?
Here are a few reasons:
- Sales people are busy and they are focused on sales. They don’t have time (inclination) to go searching around someone else’s portal for information that they would just as soon have emailed to them.
- They already have multiple other systems to use, Outlook, CRM, Linkedin, Hoovers and others.
- You are likely not their only partner. In some cases you may be one of several hundred or more.
- Your portal is password protected. Sure you have them the password, but they lost it or never received it in the first place.
- When they log into your portal, all they find is information about your company. (one dimensional). This is boring to a sales executive.
- They have no way of interacting with others once in the portal. In most cases it’s simply a way to retrieve documents and information.
I think the most telling answer to the question of why sales people don’t use portals comes from asking yourself this simple question. How many portals have you felt inclined to log into lately?
There is your answer…