Any good snow skier knows to look three turns ahead to navigate moguls with speed and agility. If your focus is on the current bump, by the time you navigate that turn, you’re tossed back on your heels and in a scramble to set up for the next turn. If you look three turns ahead, you’ve created a visual path and are now executing that plan. Take this analogy into 2023 – a large and potentially long mogul field.
It’s like in the Harry Potter books, where they refer to the main antagonist as “he-who-must-not-be-named.” As if just saying Voldemort out loud would conjure his presence. No one wants to say the word recession lest they make it a reality. Instead, I’ve heard “economic headwinds” and “a really tough market” with regularity. However, not calling it a recession doesn’t mean we don’t feel the effects of tighter budgets, pressure to produce revenue and a renewed focus on profitability. Rather than pretend it's not happening, or call it by another name, take a few steps to bolster your partnering efforts so you can withstand the storm.
Be proactive in winning over your sales, services & training teams
If you’re struggling to get your company to adopt a partnering model – you’re not alone. In our recent roundtable with twelve senior channel chiefs, we discussed the challenge of conveying partner relevance across an organization. This group of seasoned executives have led channel efforts at some of the largest and most partner-friendly technology vendors – and even they are struggling to get all teams in their companies on board. Even if you have your CEO and board of directors committed to indirect routes to market, it can still be a challenge to get all the other departments aligned to supporting partners. Don’t feel badly if you find yourself regularly facing this fight. Here are some tactics which can be used across any department. We’ve used the sales, services and training departments to highlight how presenting data, telling partner success stories and asking customers can help you overcome a resistance to partnering.
A primer on the differences and why they’re all important
We talk about partner profitability, partner ROI and partner economics ALL the time. (Here’s a plug for our webinar and a research report on these topics.) I often get asked: “Aren’t these the same thing?” To which I answer in classic consultant fashion: “Yes and no.”
The digital age (furthered by the pandemic) ushered in a new model where a customer defines their own buying journey. This journey is typically non-linear and heavily reliant on digital interactions. Since the internet allows a customer to find information about products, pricing, reviews, and expected costs themselves, the value channel partners provide has shifted. Instead of primarily offering product knowledge, partners are implementing, integrating and operating technology solutions. These shifts in the buyer journey have changed the characteristics of the channel and their activities with customers.
As we continue to move into a digital age in which individuals are comfortable researching and buying online, a transition accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic, the buying journey has become non-linear. A potential customer may read a review, ask a friend, then browse the web before ultimately purchasing online (without consulting any sales professionals or entering a store).
In December 2021, PartnerPath CEO Diane Krakora hosted our annual year-end webinar with Jay McBain, Principal Analyst - Channels, Partnerships & Ecosystems at Forrester. They broke down what vendors should keep an eye out for in 2022. To hear the full dialogue, including examples, explanations and what you should do to adapt, be sure to watch the webinar. Below are a few highlights on each trend.
How are the people who design, recommend, resell, integrate, support and manage technology solutions doing in the global pandemic? We conducted a survey of solution providers at the end of 2020 and asked how their business had been impacted by the pandemic with options of 'increased, decreased or stayed the same.' Their answers provided the basis for our recent report “10 Effects of the Global Pandemic on the Channel.” At a glance, see the effects we identified.
Partner Relationships Need a Personalized Touch, Even When You’re Not In-Person
In our recent channel chief virtual roundtable, we asked leading technology channel executives what was keeping them up at night. Surprisingly, it wasn’t partner sales, additional enablement, driving customer adoption or even the plethora of small solution providers teetering on the edge of a pandemic-fueled extinction. What they were most worried about is the damage social distancing has done to their ability to nurture relationships with their partners. Without a plane flight and dinner meeting with a partner, how do you make sure your relationship remains positive and prosperous?
Partnering is personal and the pandemic has hampered relationships in a myriad of ways. We can’t safely break bread inside our favorite bistro or shake hands to solidify our agreement to invest and grow together. But beyond physical touch, creating a personal relationship with partners means personalizing how you do business.