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Time for Plan B for Tech Vendors

By Julian Lee

It’s clear that as the situation worsens, all companies will continue to restrict travel for all staff. The ripple effect of Coronavirus will go far beyond the obvious short-term things like live events being cancelled or postponed. This may just be the tip of the iceberg!

The bigger question is what will be the longer term impact on vendors reaching their business development goals. And, how will channel partners be affected if they cannot do the basics like meet clients. It is time to rethink everything!

The good news is that vendors can easily change their habits to not only ride out this storm, but come out stronger when it’s over!

I have been very busy talking with many channel execs and partners off the record about what they are thinking and doing

I can tell you that most everyone is taking this seriously (even the skeptics are coming around), but many are playing their cards close to their chests about their plans. I am already seeing several great ideas coming out on many fronts. One company is offering a 3-month free service to their remote working solution to all of their clients. One partner is offering free audits to their customers to help them figure out their needs of having their staff work from home. Several remote-working and management solution vendors are doubling down on their awareness marketing with free trials.

Keep in mind that this situation can also impact distributors and the fulfillment of ALL hardware products

Tech companies will have to deal with ongoing product development issues and for hardware vendors the supply chain will take a while to ramp up again. As more people work remotely, it will cause yet another layer of pain on management and increased security challenges. It will definitely force everyone to think and act differently.

On the financial side, tech companies are already adjusting their numbers to factor in the Coronavirus effect. As global stock markets stumble, it will add another layer of difficulty to manage. You may expect acquisitions of companies that are ill-prepared to ride out this storm. Things will likely bounce back at some point, but it will take strong leadership to navigate through the current storm. On the flip side, companies with solid digital solutions should get a boost as companies realize the value of adopting more remote business practices.

Marketing and sales playbooks will need to be adjusted for a heavier virtual game. We are already working with vendors to leverage our virtual activities to continue developing their channel. The good news is that their digital game will continue to benefit them long after the Coronavirus is in the rare-view mirror!

The time for your Plan B was two months ago. If you missed all of the signs, the next best time is NOW! Do not wait!

It’s time for all vendors and channel partners to beef-up their digital game to continue building their businesses virtually. This will help to mediate the current situation but it will also continue to help when things are back to normal. There is NO downside to doing this!

6 basic things that Vendors should be doing: 

1. Leverage more digital activities to reach and communicate with the channel. Leverage more online news media like eChannelNEWS to keep on promoting your newsworthy messages to our channel community.

2. Leverage virtual call-to-actions like webinars to keep on educating and prospecting the channel virtually. Bake in as many virtual call-to-actions as possible! Soon there will be a dramatic increase in the number of webinars hitting the channel so experiment to stand out from the crowd! Ask about what we are doing with vendors in this area.

3. Help your partners to do more digital marketing. Support smaller meet-ups between partners and their customers to help them educate and sell. Ask how we can help. Remember your partners and their customers are in the same boat! We work with a few marketing automation platforms that your channel partners can use.

4. Work your social networks deeper (as well as the phones) to keep in touch. When people meet less, they may welcome more phone calls :o). People will certainly be online and on social networks more! Share relevant content! Help your reps to brush up on their social selling game with Shane Gibson.

5. Beef up your internal partner tools to become more efficient and effective. Now is when those vendors with a better digital game will outperform their competitors! You may want to check out the value of building a private social networking community with companies like Channeliser.

6. Recruit elite partners without face-to-face interventions through The Channel Partner Alliance. This group is about helping its members to build best business practices for their recurring revenue business model. The ideal type of partners that vendors want to recruit. You can also support some of your current partners to become members so they can become champions.

The obvious short term mission for every vendor is implementing a robust work-at-home practice without loosing productivity or increasing security risks. We know the companies who do this best including remote application and data access; VoIP solutions and security. If you are looking for solutions, let us know if you need some recommendations.

The worst thing you can do is to just wait and see. Take decisive action to think and work differently. Think without a box and be safe!