A global technology company providing sensor, software, and autonomous solutions needed a better way to engage partners—especially those it gained through a recent acquisition. The organization needed to mobilize a variety of partners across its sales and business processes. With Skuid, it’s taking a phased approach to building a modern partner portal that serves and enables all types of partners.
Challenge: modernize the partner experience, post-acquisition
Until recently, a global technology provider with over 20,000 employees didn’t have a robust partner program. In areas where it lacked coverage, the organization would often acquire partners it did have to bring sales in-house.
In the last year, the company acquired a software product that came with a large partner base. Adding this ecosystem required a strong integration with the existing partner program and developing better partner sales and enablement tools.
Previously, the acquired partners used SharePoint to access resources but struggled to find what they needed. Navigating the system was very cumbersome and at times very difficult to find relevant information. Even after the homepage was updated with seemingly relevant assets, these partners needed a more flexible, intuitive way to find what they needed.
And prior to the acquisition, the global technology provider was using a highly-customized version of Salesforce to manage its partner program. The experience looked website-like, but the functionality was the bare minimum.The system used standard menu structures and was not focused on the partner UI experience.
Users wanted a modern solution with more capabilities with a simplified structure, making it easy to navigate to the information they needed. As the organization investigated its options, two clear priorities emerged: modernizing its partner experience, and providing relevant, phased support for new and existing partners.
Another challenge they faced was their existing partners use a different opportunity record type than the internal sales team. This means they aren’t using the same sales structure, which makes managing partner pipeline and forecasting difficult for the organization.
“There's a huge potential and opportunity to grow that partner ecosystem because they can drive a lot of business for the company. One of the opportunities we have is to change the mind set—that partners are an extension of your sales force and not a competition with your sales teams.” – Channel Operations Manager
The partner cockpit: a newly imagined partner portal
After the acquisition, the company knew it needed a strong PRM solution. This new system had to support both alliance partners (system integrators, and technology and delivery partners) and channel partners (VARs and distributors).
In evaluating PRM options, the company didn’t want a menu-driven experience. And while some out-of-the-box options offered portals, the organization wanted to better leverage the tools it already had.
Given the company was using Salesforce, and after seeing portals Skuid built with other customers, it selected Skuid to help.
The process: a phased approach for deal registration and partner enablement
Currently, the team is working with Skuid in two-week sprints to build a minimum viable phase 1 product, with the goal of transitioning its incoming partners from their legacy system by September 2022.
Another key component to phase 1 is creating a good baseline experience for partners—including a deal registration process—and getting them to view the new portal as their cockpit.
There will be a carousel to draw attention to key resources like upcoming events, new product information, and certifications. And the new portal will keep partners on the page when they need to perform a task—like a deal registration—rather than having them navigate away from the homepage.
The new portal will also transition partners to use the same opportunity record type as internal sellers. Once the newly acquired partners are up and running in the portal, existing partners will be brought in as well, which will simplify pipeline management and forecasting for everyone and provide their partners a single partner experience.
The ultimate goal is to provide a unified experience for a new partner program structure, with tools that all partners can use regardless of their type or tier. Future portal iterations will include capabilities for referral processes, Market Development Funds (MDF), and more.
Deal registration details
For channel partners, a streamlined, transparent deal registration process is key.
For the new portal, when a partner attempts to register a deal, the organization can then examine the rules of engagement to determine if the partner can proceed with that transaction. For instance, does the deal already exist in the system because another partner attempted to register it before them?
Once the deal is approved, the system will convert it to an opportunity that the channel account manager associated with that partner account will own (to help them manage pipeline and forecast). This gives channel account managers instant visibility on all opportunities coming in from their partners.
For the partner who requested the deal registration, as it progresses, the portal will notify them so that they know it’s been approved, and when the opportunity has been created. They’ll be added to the opportunity with the ability to edit it, and can begin to manage it through the sales cycle.
By facilitating processes like these in the portal, the organization is giving partners the ability to grow within the program and progress from an authorized partner to an advanced or premier partner.
Robust partner enablement
Given the limited functionality and access of the current system, ensuring access to training materials in the new portal is a huge priority.
Enablement will include product content and the portal will plug into tools the company already has to include certification and system training.
There’s also an existing app that offers partners guidance on how to sell the products. It will be integrated with the new portal so that newly acquired partners also have access.
As the organization expands partners’ product eligibility, they’ll add courses for those products to the existing training program or app. So, as partners get educated and certified in new products, they can continue to advance in the partner program.
More opportunity, not competition
Before the acquisition, the previous partner program was limited in scope. Since acquiring the new product and its partners, the organization is working to ensure everyone understands that this strategy will produce more opportunity, not competition.
Part of this effort includes educating the internal sales team on where the partner space operates so that they can focus on their customers and growing their business.
Partners are eligible to sell within a particular account space and for incoming partners, the organization is expanding the market they can penetrate, opening new opportunities for them to grow.
And for certain types of deals—like public sector—some partners have specialized knowledge they bring to the table, enabling smoother engagement in that market.
Opportunities like these mean the company can expand the business and grow—a win for everyone involved.