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Channel Partners are at home listening. Why are you muted?

By Julian Lee

Time to snap out of it and use this “pause” to actually grow business! From our discussions with vendors over the past 9 months, we are seeing some new trends emerging as they navigate their way through channel development in 2020…

Here are the top 5:

  1. Many vendors continue to layoff staff. Some have already let go their high-cost field channel reps or readjusted their roles as inside reps. Most job positions are being scrutinized for overall impact to the business. On the flip side, it’s a good opportunity for other vendors to pick up good reps. With the current spikes and the looming “secondary” waves coming in the winter, it seems like the situation may continue well into 2021.
  2. Vendors are talking with their current partners to figure out how to move forward. This is where we are seeing the smartest vendors putting in the most effort. It seems like a personalized engagement approach with each partner is yielding the most success but actual revenue ROI is still a mystery. Many are doing innovative things to maintain those relationships. The common activities include delivering food and cool gifts. Some are offering product and upgrading skills’ training. Some are doing entertaining activities like happy hour, drink mix demonstrations and other non-IT speakers. There is limited selling going on so these activities are mostly about maintaining partner connections and keeping relationships healthy as possible. I think offering free training is also smart.
  3. All vendors are revamping their digital footprint with their partners. Without the road warriors, vendors have since realized that they do not have a deep enough digital engagement with their partners. PRM portals seem to be the standard “go-to” digital playbook. This is an area where we work in helping vendors implement a more effective digital strategy and footprint with their partners.
  4. Marketing teams are scrambling to figure out digital marketing programs and their ROI during this pandemic. In-person activities are very different from all-digital. Virtual events have already saturated the market and competition for eyeballs are off the charts. Innovation seems to be winning the game, but our data is showing that 86% of the partners prefer to consume digital content on-demand. One of the biggest hurdles is getting their attention to know where to find the on-demand content. As such, making a strong case from a more effective post-event promotion of this content. It’s another area where we are doubling down as we find more ways to stream content throughout the channel.
  5. Leadership continues to juggle the numbers to figure out how to manage costs, human resources, product development and cash flow. Too many leaders are struggling with the remote-everything channel game. Many were blindsided and are feeling the pain of a low social media presence and weak credibility in thought leadership within their subject matter expertise. It opens the door for others who are more digital savvy to become the new thought-leaders and disrupt the business.

Vendors with sweet-spot products for the Pandemic are enjoying massive growth numbers and revenue. However at some point, these high-demand vendors will experience huge competitive forces as others battle for market share.

For all other vendors, your partners are home listening, why are you on mute? Time to snap out of it and use this pause to actually grow your business!

One thing we know for sure is that now is not the time to go dark. Our news media eChannelNEWS is one way to have your voice and message heard in the channel. Subscribe to learn what your peers are doing! It’s time to be leveraging all channel focused news media properties and beefing up your digital game.