Importance of keeping connected with channel partners during COVID-19

Posted by Dan Kelly

COVID-19 restrictions have proved to be challenging for most businesses, including for IT and Tech vendors. Research shows that communication, contact and collaboration is desired by resellers and distributors to improve or maintain relationship standards.

Organisations have been required to pivot their service offering throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to survive and more importantly thrive. But has the importance of human-touch been lost, as they adapt?

For vendors, the pressure is on to worker closer with their partner community. After all, these assets can be the source to success. And with a recent survey reporting partners professing to seeking more contact, vendors need to adopt a customer-centric approach and look to work harder to maintain or improve relationships.

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Research by Kaspersky shows that nearly seven out of 10 resellers and distributors want better relationships with vendors. The same number say they would like more personal contact with their dedicated account manager. 56% of resellers and distributors feel isolated if they hear nothing from their vendors, while 65% admit they are finding it increasingly difficult to build relationships with vendors.

It’s clear there have been increased challenges throughout 2020, such as reduced face-to-face contact from not being able to physically visit partners, which has been replaced with more emails and digital comms as touchpoints. But as remote-working looks set to remain, the emphasis and effort needs to shift to building relationships through personalised, direct contact.

Andy Bogdan, head of UK SMB channel at Kaspersky shares “Vendors have the know-how, industry expertise and resources to become real thought leaders in the channel, and that is what their partners want – and need – to receive from them. In business, relationships are key. Building trust and having good, honest communication between all parties is imperative.”

5 ways to keep connected with channel partners

1) Engagement programmes

Motivate and inspire partners to work harder for the brand, by providing a customised branded platform, which details the specifics to an incentive they can participate in. Complete with personalised views for each salesperson for leader boards and target tracker success, which rewards them with desirable prizes for successful behaviours and performance completed. Raise brand awareness, develop mindshare and reward loyalty.

 2) Sales enablement

Educate your partners to improve their knowledge and skills and develop best-in-class brand ambassadors. Provide partners with the tools they need to focus on your product or brand and arm them with the resources and information needed to improve their productivity, increase sales or enhance company knowledge. Do this, in a fun and engaging way, through a series of online quizzes and tests, with prizes for successful completion.

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 3) Virtual sales activation days

Deliver the fun, hype and energetic environment sales teams are used to working in, by bringing sales activation days, product training or new launches online. Remain the point of focus for partners with a branded platform utilising themes and games such  traditional “Safe Cracker” themes through to “Escape Room”, that can be used across multiple partner activation days, allowing audiences to be motivated no matter where they are based.

4) Networking 

The after-work drinks, hospitality and social schmoozing may be on hold for now, but it doesn’t mean to say the entertainment factor should be stopped altogether… just take it online. Host your partners with a virtual gin/beer/wine tasting experience, or enjoy a fun filled evening of an online comedy night or even an interactive murder mystery game. More details here.

 5) Keep in touch gifts

Nothing says connection, more than a keep in touch gift. Remain at the forefront of partner sales team activity, by sending a gift to acknowledge performance, training completed or brand awareness. The gift could included branded merchandise, or for a better more personalised experience, send something seasonal with your compliments like these gifting boxes.

We create and implement solutions designed to make an impact for your business. For ideas on how to achieve this, contact us for a complimentary demo or discussion.

As a founding partner of CR Worldwide in 2002, Dan helped develop the company from a start-up business into the multi-million global brand it is today.