COVID-19 puts us all into a “new normal.” Companies are tightening their spending as demand falls off, and they cut back on certain services. They’re adjusting how and where employees work. All this uncertainty directly impacts channel partner managers who need to make the right decisions to help their business and their partners make it through the crisis.
Resist the urge to cut back on channel spending and support doing the downturn. The pandemic will ease, economic demand will return, and you need to be in position to capitalize. During the crisis,communicate to partners openly. Let them know you’re all in it together. You recognize it’s an uncertain world for our health and for the economy, and do not know the exact timeline for when things will recover.
Embrace the Long View
Channel partner managers can reduce concerns about the economic downturn by focusing on the long-term strength of their industry and partner ecosystem. Taking the long view inspires confidence and it also prevents channel managers and partners from making shortsighted choices. Recognize the investment you have placed with partners to reinforce the bond and value of the network. You likely spent years selecting and building partner relationships. Do not let them fall by the wayside because of six months of poor performance during the shutdown.
Take some steps to protect your partner network and your own business success for the long term:
· Discuss your three and five-year plans with partners. Get them engaged and hopeful for a shared future.
· Work with partners to develop strategies for capitalizing on surging customer demand after the pandemic eases.
· Focus on boosting the numbers of current partners through support and engagement before looking to add new partners during the downturn
· Use this time to establish your company as a leader that will stick by partners and provide counsel and support during tough times.
· Recognize sales will be flat throughout 2020 and perhaps into 2021 (depending on your industry)
Open (and Use) the Lines of Communication
Offer personalized one-on-one and group communications tools. Send emails and newsletters, or craft social posts through your platform. Use our built-in data analytics for delivery, open and click-through rates provide program managers with instant insights. Perform A/B testing to hone your messaging for maximum impact.
With communications, do not lump all your partner reps together. Some prefer frequent social posts for communication, while others want just quarterly emails. Adjust your communications during the crisis (and going forward) to meet the needs of the individual. And use surveys to understand how reps feel about the crisis and its impacts.
Is there much optimism for the future? Measure the sentiment on the ground and adjust your incentives and communications as necessary to reorient and improve moods and outcomes. Ask the right questions. Talk to your rep show they’re feeling, and ask how you can help.
Look at your other forms of communication during the crisis. For example, does your collateral need a refresh? If your service offering changed in response to the shutdown, you and your partners could need revamped collateral. Take this opportunity to look closer at your content. Does it mainly focus on you, and not the needs of the end customer or your partners?Take this opportunity to improve all your communications while making needed adjustments to the new economic realities.
This is also a chance for you to step-up by helping partners that do not have the budget or time to build content:
· Develop product videos for your partner network.
· Create some compelling webinars that improve product understanding.
· Take some of the load off your partners by giving them new content that best relays your solution’s benefits,while also leaving room for them to provide their own value propositions.
Consider launching entire virtual environments to highlight new product or platform launches. These virtual-based initiatives are effective, and of course satisfy the need for social distancing best practices.Virtual events can highlight tech specs, a range of product features, and various usage cases. And unlike in-person meetings, the virtual content is accessible at any time, so it fit the partner rep’s schedule.
ChannelAssist’s platform features future-proof technology that drives communication, deeper engagement and more sales. Talk to us to learn more about our technology and strategies for managing channel partner programs through the crisis and on to future success.