The reliance on technology creates an interesting dynamic. Technology has never been more important to acquiring and serving customers, yet the customers have never cared less about the actual technology. In the context of channel sales management, technology platforms need to function flawlessly in the background. They must make life easier for reps and managers without much conscious thought. Now is the time to implement and improve your channel program’s core technologies, not when you predict the“bottom” of the sales market, because you might already be too late.
While this post is about technology, it’s not contradictory for us to say the people are what matters. During a crisis, it is how people use tech to engage with each other and get things done. From kids using ZOOM to brighten grandma’s day to reps using a channel technology platform so they can earn money and provide for their family.
Technology to Foster Communication
Managing a channel program through the crisis requires transparent communication about expectations and next steps. Be a leader during a stressful time by developing a plan and committing your support to channel partners. Communicating effectively is much easier with a technology platform that enables customized and efficient messaging and content sharing.
Key messages for communication strategies could include:
· We’re in this period of time together
· We cannot predict the future in terms of economic recovery or when sales might recover
· We’re still confident about our industry’s prospects as well as our solutions’ place in the market
· Tips for the channel reps to engage with the end customer and openly discuss the ramifications of the crisis
Leverage Tech to Understand the Situation on the Ground
During a shared crisis, you need two-way communication. This means opening discussions between channel managers and partners. Ask them about how they’re coping with the crisis and see if they have questions. Create surveys and polls and incentivize the reps to engage with the survey. They need this financial push to finish the survey because they are busy and focused on the crisis. You might be one of 10 vendors they are selling, so get them to focus on you with a reasonable incentive.
Consider switching up your incentives by offering a points structure instead of cash payments of 10 or 20 dollars. If the “participation points” lead to a paid trip (after COVID-19) or a fun universally liked item,then you are likely to receive many more respondents and better survey data. Also think about adding in a bonus payment for partners that close deals for your program during the survey period.
These surveys can accomplish multiple goals (over time, not all in one survey):
· Did COVID-19 disrupt the typical engagement pattern? Do they continue to see you as a leader and able to help them through a crisis?
· Learn about market sentiment –do reps feel the broader economic downturn will hit your industry?
· Determine if incentives are working – do the reps need an adjusted SPIFs schedule or lowered sales expectations due to the downturn?
A sophisticated platform with personalized survey capabilities is the only way to grab survey insights at the scale you need to make business decisions. Adding gamified learning and achievement levels to the surveys and incentives are further tech-enabled features that can alter rep behaviors, to encourage them to think positively about their future prospects.Armed with insights from surveys and incentives enables program managers to make more disruptive actions that will prove necessary as sales competition increases for limited sales.
COVID-19 brings a new type of economy. It disrupts how people interact, conduct business, their technology needs, and product adoption. Change happens and change in business if often productive. The pandemic and related shutdowns sent tremors throughout the channel partner industry, but also pushes forward innovation and communication that will help the industry thrive into 2021 and beyond.
Our platform features real-time communications,progress monitoring, and feedback which are necessary for mitigating the stress felt by all involved. Program managers can check delivery rates, opens, and click through rates through the ChannelAssist platform, which helps spot disengaged reps that might need a phone call or additional personal outreach. Talk to us to learn more about how we is help clients manage the uncertainty.