Marketing data is almost always related to how it helps you improve your lead generation efforts, conversion rates, brand reputation, and other customer-related initiatives. But the power of data is that it's useful across your department and organization, even in the arena of building and maintaining relationships with your suppliers and other business partners. That's actually quite brilliant!
But many marketing departments, or the businesses they serve, want to set up partner portals where they can manage partner relationships online, as well as collect more marketing data to be used in supplier management, product improvements, customer service improvements, etc. This isn't so brilliant. Here's why.
1. Partner Portals Aren't Built in a Day
A custom partner portal takes six months to one year from the time of inception to it working as a part of the organization. There are much easier, faster ways to get the marketing data and supplier data you need. While many such systems are sold out-of-the-box, it's unusual that these systems are able to integrate with your other systems (marketing automation, email marketing, CRM, etc.) without some customization, which is also time-consuming and expensive.
2. Partner Portals Take Time, Energy & Money Away from Your Real Goals
While your team is working away on your partner portal, dipping into that precious marketing budget, other things aren't getting done. For example, you have other streams of marketing data that aren't being analyzed and pursued while you're whiling away at the partner portal. Few marketing departments and businesses can afford this kind of resource hog.
3. Partner Portals Don't Address Inherent Problems in Your Vendor Relationships
It's common for marketing departments or their businesses to invest in software to "fix" problems in their processes and procedures. You can try to solve your problems with a software application, which rarely works (it just automates bad processes and procedures), or you can fix the problems inherent in your vendor relationship management and see actual results.
4. Partner Portals Actually Stand in the Way of Building Strong Vendor Relationships
Partner portal products come with lots of promises -- improving vendor relations, tracking the success of suppliers, finding the best vendor values -- but these software systems can't ever do one thing that your human employees are generally quite good at. Theses systems can't possibly get to know your partners and build solid, lasting relationships with them. Who do you think gets the better deal, the partner with the best software or the one who picks up the phone from time to time to say, "Hey, how's it going?" There is no replacement for person-to-person interaction. You can always use your marketing data to determine which suppliers are meeting their marks. For example, was customer service down last month due to vendor delays? Was customer satisfaction lower due to some supplier quality issues? That marketing data can help you manage vendor relationships better than a software system designed to interact with your vendors for you.
ReachForce helps marketers increase revenue contribution by solving some of their toughest data management problems. We understand the challenges of results-driven marketers and provide solutions to make initiatives like marketing automation, personalization and predictive marketing better. Whether you have an acute pain to solve today or prefer to grow your capabilities over time, ReachForce can unify, clean and enrich prospect and customer lifecycle data in your business, and do it at your own pace.