What Will Happen in Channel Sales Because of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
March 17, 2020
What Will Happen in Channel Sales Because of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Partner programs and indirect sales are well underway at most companies. Since Coronavirus has become a worldwide pandemic, the technology we have in place today can help prevent business from slowing down.

 

The March 2020 Gartner Webinar “How Your Business Can Respond to Coronavirus (COVID-19),” explores “how technology helps operate during a pandemic.”

 

 

As conferences are canceled and company-wide travel is suspended in most organizations, partner engagement doesn’t have to miss a beat with PRM. Indirect sales teams now have automation through PRM where training is self-service. Deal registration, the tracking of pipeline progress, and many face-to-face interactions can now be virtually facilitated as we all find a new ‘normal’ while respecting social distancing.

Sandy Potter, Allbound’s Director of Channel, advises on how to manage indirect sales during this crisis:

Now, more than ever, the health of your partner ecosystem is critical to your success. 

2020 will go down in the history books with a lot of notable, yet predictable events – U.S. presidential elections, leap year, summer Olympic games. However, none of us could predict, or even imagine, the epic repercussions of COVID-19 across every element of our lives. For those of us eager to maintain healthy businesses in the wake of this, 2020 will force us to rethink everything about how we go to market.

Have you thought about what this means to your indirect sales teams? Many of them have made significant investments in your partnership and their businesses, and are eager to keep growing. Here are four critical tips to keep your indirect sales team flourishing as we face this latest challenge.

1. Inform on the Fly:

If we’ve learned nothing this year, it’s that anything is possible. While conferences are great opportunities for deepening personal relationships, we can’t rely on them as our primary medium for educating our channel teams. The pace of change continues to accelerate, so it is absolutely critical that you have a way to introduce product announcements and corresponding channel training both effectively and remotely. Are you providing robust digital experiences to your channel? 

2. Be nimble, Pivot Quickly:

Ok, so you’re grounded – no face time with partners, and no in-person customer events for the near (and maybe not so near) future. Can you quickly develop new partner marketing plans that can be initiated quickly, maintain your brand message and continue to drive opportunities? Leverage online account planning, co-branding and pre-packaged campaigns that enable partners to quickly execute and maintain a strong presence with your joint customers and prospects. You’ll need to quickly evaluate and redistribute market development funds (MDF) to ensure your ecosystem is enabled to succeed.

3. More is More:

“Business as usual” is a phrase that may never be used again, so communication is the one thing that can keep everyone grounded and on track. Programs that succeed will ensure their channel community is embraced as part of the team. Provide a single point of clarity with a portal where critical announcements, video communications, product information and opportunity support all live. Ensure your partners don’t have to bounce between systems or spend time searching for support and resources when working remotely. 

4. Eyes on the Prize?:

Customers still come first. We all want to service our customers and support new opportunities. Creating a seamless deal management and support structure for your channel team means streamlined communication of critical milestones, resource requirements and sales results allows both you and your partners to maintain thriving businesses.

Are you leveraging the very best technology to meet these goals? 

Email is helpful but often overwhelming, and therefore ineffective. Phone calls and video conferencing can facilitate important conversations but are not great methods for shoring up day to day business requirements for the hundreds of channel sellers in your program. Great PRM (Partner Relationship Management) tools facilitate a single destination for your partners that keeps them informed, enabled and most importantly, in the market without compromising personal safety concerns during times like these. I think you’ll find they are a game-changer and should be a key component of your new normal.