The partner portal at Poly, a video and voice solutions company, has been very busy lately. Since the company launched its Poly Partner Program and the portal earlier this year, the website is averaging 20,000 unique user visits weekly, each of them logging on an average of nine times.
Just about any partner program would chalk up portal traffic like that as a win. But for Poly, which was formed when Plantronics acquired Polycom in 2018, the apparent popularity of its portal and partner program is especially sweet. The new program now brings the original brands’ partner ecosystems – some 15,000 strong – under one umbrella.
Jennifer Judy, Senior Director, Global Partner Experience at Poly, credits the successful development and roll-out of the new portal to doing a lot of listening first. Judy, who joined the company at the beginning of the year, prioritized conversations with partners to “understand their expectations. What did they need? What did they want to see with the partner programs coming together? What type of things did they want to have? You have to do your due diligence, to investigate what were their experiences in both of the legacy programs and platforms,” she told CMR. “It’s absolutely critical that you don’t try to create a partner experience in a vacuum.”
In addition to having conversations with partners all over the world, she met with channel staff responsible for regional programs to understand their requirements as well.
Not surprising, the research uncovered a long list of requirements that any organization would struggle to satisfy from the get-go. But ease-of-use and personalized access to partner-focused content were prioritized.
Understanding the capabilities of her organization and the peril that comes with over-promising and under-delivering, Judy opted for a staged roll-out of portal features. To ensure that the new portal would support a segmented or personalized experience for all partners, Poly selected a partner relationship management (PRM) platform from Impartner that would enable Judy and her team to stagger the roll-out of segmented experiences when the company is capable of supporting them.
“We are only as good as their experience is,” said Judy. People in general are more likely to talk about their bad experiences than good ones, she said. “If partners have a bad experience on your portal, they may think, ‘These guys don’t know anything about my business, I can’t figure out how to find what I need. It’s so cumbersome for me to get what I need to be successful. I’m going to go over to this other vendor, because they tee things up for me.”
“So we’re starting slow,” explained Judy, “segmenting now by regional theater. So whether you’re in Asia, Europe, United States, the portal customizes the content that you need your theater.”
The portal also supports different experiences for partners and distributors and will be enhanced to customize experiences for different types of channel partners. Ultimately the portal will support specific experiences for different partner roles such as sales staff, technical team, or marketing departments.
Also scheduled for launch this year is a partner journey builder that will expedite on-boarding of new partners with scheduled delivery of information. Judy compared the journey builder to HR solutions that support new employee on-boarding. “We’re going to be launching that to help drive certain activities and tee up information for these partners.”
With a reliable framework in place to ensure a personalized experience, Poly is preparing to support new functionality by adding new content to the platform. “That’s the secret sauce,” said Judy. “Building the portal is one thing, but keeping the content fresh, that’s on you as the vendor.” As the company expands its content library, more modules will be added to the portal to “personalize it even more,” said Judy.
Marketers should be careful to focus on the quality of the content it creates, not quantity, advised Judy. “Don’t just mass produce tons and tons of stuff,” she recommended. “Deliver 20 great pieces of content, rather than 100 mediocre pieces of collateral.”
Poly will also launch a new newsletter that partners can personalize by prioritizing topics they want to see and the delivery frequency. “We believe that when you start tailoring the content, keeping the content fresh, and customizing the experience of the partner, you’re enticing them to come back,” said Judy.
To ensure that the portal remains a go-to destination for partners, Judy is paying close attention to the data it generates. “Analytics in your portal is critical,” she said. “You need to understand where your partners are going. What are their top page views? What are they downloading? That data will help you understand what content should be built, or where you need to focus your attention.”
The data will also be used to measure partner performance. The company is moving away from measuring partners only by the revenue they generate, said Judy. “We’re tracking them on capability, commitment, and contribution.” The new portal will provide more insight into their capabilities by documenting each partners effort to broaden their teams’ knowledge base. “Do they know our products? Are they taking our training?”
The data suggests that they are, said Judy. And while she credits COVID-19 as giving partners more time to visit Poly’s new partner portal, she’s taking advantage of the opportunity. “Now is the time to strike and really prove to them we can tee up the information you they need to be successful.”