During challenging times, how do you react and seek growth? In this blog, I look at how to mix up channel communication through adopting a digital transforation strategy and how technology will become your businesses best asset.
The world has become a slightly more worrying and challenging place in the past few months, both in our personal and business lives. As we all try to make sense of what is happening right now one way of making ourselves feel more positive is planning for our future – a trait in human beings that has enabled us to thrive and adapt throughout each stage of human evolution and the one thing that has made us arguably the most successful species on our amazing planet. Forget opposable thumbs, survival is not really about the fittest, it is about our ability to adapt to change and the speed in which we do that. Studies in neuroscience and the psychology of humans demonstrates that we can think, plan, reason and create in order to further our evolution and survival. In the last two centuries we have seen an explosion of innovation faster than anything that has gone before it, which has led to rapid progression through the automation of the Industrial Revolution to the Information Age of computer science and technology.
It may not feel like it right now, but this is an exciting time to live. Our amazing capacity as humans to think, plan, reason and create means that constant advances in science, information and technology mean we can create super computers that can achieve ‘Quantum Supremacy’ (Google), and make sense of data so deeply that we can thankfully now create and save lives.
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Many of you will be familiar with Rogers Innovation Curve. Innovators, Early Adopters through to Laggards. This model, and others like it, suggest that the ‘Tipping Point’ between Early Adopters and Early Majority occurs somewhere between 13-18% of market adoption. The same applies for Digital Transformation in the business world, and while many companies are past the tipping point strategically, 70% of companies report they have or are working on a Digital Transformation strategy (*TechRepublic) only 21% (*Forrester) think they actually have their digital transformation completed, while it is estimated that only 7% actually have their Digital Transformation strategy completed. (*ClickZ)
Utilising technology for growth
What we are going to see over the course of 2020 is another rapid growth in the adoption of new technology and platforms to help businesses automate tasks, communicate faster with employees, partners and customers and ultimately seek to mitigate risk for their organisations. We live in hope that this COVID-19 pandemic teaches us all to be more caring and sharing in our personal lives, but in business the focus has now got to switch to survival and growth. To do this we must utilise technology to be quicker, slicker and more efficient than ever before.
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Changing channel communication
In the ‘B-2-B 2-B’ technology channel we are facing unprecedented challenges to the way we do business. Two of the critical elements of successful partnerships are personal relationships and open communication. The best partnerships thrive on being able to conduct business face-to-face and being able to effectively communicate at speed. Jay McBain at Forrester has recently highlighted the changing channel eco-system and the importance marketing automation (3rd wave of TCMA) as these ecosystems undergo rapid growth. Channel Account Managers and Channel Marketing Managers can no longer ‘pop into a partner sales floor’ to run a training session or SPIF Day. There is huge disruption to the normal way Vendors and Partners can interact and those that can adapt to this change the quickest will be the ones that come out on top when the post-pandemic dust settles.
64% of digital-first companies are more likely to achieve their business goals than their peers (2019 Digital Trends Report). While 56% of CEO’s say that digital improvements have improved profits (Gartner). The IT channel have of course always been at the forefront of digital utilisation, especially when it comes to ways of communicating and engaging disparate workforces at scale. Whether it be mobile apps, video-conferencing (Zoom have added 2.2m new users already in 2020 vs 1.99m in the whole of 2019 according to Bernstein research whilst Facebook report 1000% rise in video calling in Italy since the COVID-19 outbreak (BBC)) – or utilising many of the 3rd party platforms provided by ‘as-a-service’ vendors, the time to act is now. There are providers out there who have heavily invested in technology to help you as Channel Managers inform, educate, engage and delight the people most valuable to your business. Enabling you to move quickly to implement effective ways to keep the wheels of the channel turning. In a previous blog Mike Ryan gave some insights on how to engage and motivate a ‘Contingent Workforce’. We can swap out the term contingent for distant, disparate, 3rd party or in our world…Partner.
The challenge now is how do you communicate and motivate with partner sales reps when you cannot speak to them face-to-face. Email…sure, video calls…maybe? But how many emails per day will an average rep receive, when do they have time to join another video call? What is their appetite to listen to you, and what is their motivation to act now to help you sell your products and services over that of a competitor?
If you want to cut through the noise and grab the attention of the people who directly drive your revenue you must think about ‘What is in it for them?’ Why are they going to bother listening and acting on your requests?
10 reasons to consider digital programmes
Of the most valuable strategic plays you deploy over the coming months, implementing an easy-to-use and manage digital engagement and reward programme should be top of your list. Why? Here’s 10 reasons:
- Improve sales revenue
- Increase your brand awareness in the mind of sales reps
- Improve product knowledge through incentivised learning
- Drive specific focus on key behaviours
- Create Brand Ambassadors throughout your Channel ecosystem
- Effective and fast communication direct to sales reps
- Reward Deal/Opps registration & see pipeline earlier in the sales cycle
- Get valuable data insights into your sales reps’ behaviours
- Gain real-time data insight into your end-user buyer journey
- Generate easy to track ‘Cause & Effect’ ROI from your campaigns
10 tips to consider when choosing a platform
If you think that sounds like hard work, then here are another 10 tips on what to consider when choosing a platform:
- Speed to impact is key. How quickly can the platform be deployed? Delay costs sales.
- UX is king. How easy is it for the participants to engage and use the platform and does it have a customisable User Interface?
- It needs to be easily accessible by all. Is the platform mobile responsive and available anywhere on any device?
- Scalability. Does the platform allow you to grow when needed, is it quick and easy?
- Coverage. Is the platform available in multiple languages and regions
- Support. Can you get tech, programme management, communication and participant query support?
- Feature Rich. Does the platform have useful engagement tools and features, Leader boards, sales claim and approval, gamification, training modules, collateral resource area, social recognition, reward currency?
- Flexible Structure. Can you configure the database to mirror your Channel ecosystem i.e. GEO, Regional, Partner, Sales Rep levels?
- Data API’s – Can the platform easily integrate with 3rd party data sources such as CRM and partner portals?
- Rewards Fulfilment. Finally, can the platform automate the burden of reward fulfilment and offer a wide choice to participants?
I think it is safe to say that the world will keep changing and we will all need to keep adapting. The key is to keep ahead of the game and give yourself and your business the best chance of success. Digital Transformation is only going to accelerate as resources and other external factors exert more influence on your ability to execute.