It’s no secret that 2020 was a difficult year for many businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic not only forced many small businesses to close their doors, but it stopped the channel’s biggest sales strategy: travel. Many channel organizations rely heavily on face-to-face business meetings, and tradeshows and industry events to maintain relationships and sell product.
With all of this coming to an abrupt halt, channel-based sales organizations needed to rely more heavily on digital communication, virtual education and events, and learning how to sell online. Some organizations quickly shifted their messaging and sales strategy, while others waited for things to go back to normal. The latter, as we have seen, have since struggled.
Adapt or Fail
It was particularly important for companies to quickly put together online content, trainings, and webinars to provide their partners with the information needed to not only continue selling, but to help them succeed as well. Some focused on expanding their product line to offer solutions that would help combat the pandemic challenges, and some leveraged their channel partner programs to offer more support.
Although in the point of sale industry, the pandemic presented many vendors with the opportunity to sell more products for online ordering solutions, check-out protection, and more, it was important to change the message from “buy our product to survive the pandemic” to “our solution will help you through the pandemic and improve business past the pandemic.”
Software Developer Marketing in 2021
The best thing for organizations to do to keep their partners engaged is to invest in technology. Video conferences, marketing automation tools, and collaboration resources have been vital tools in helping to increase and maintain engagement both internally and externally with partners and customers. Online events and education have been key but have been shown to result in email or video call fatigue.
When organizations realize they are not the only ones trying to adjust to the new normal by providing on-demand versions of webinars instead of live-only, or by offering multiple time slots for a sales training, partners and customers are more likely to respond and attend these events. Virtual trainings and events are great ways to keep communication active with your partners, but you must also be sensitive to the chaos partners may be facing while working from home.
Partner Program Best Practices for 2021
The purpose of a partner program is to provide your reseller partners with the tools they need to be successful. Organizations need to empower their partners by providing them with marketing tools and sales assistance such as training or collateral and assisting with business development. Everyone loves a discount, but that is not what makes sales grow. During a time when businesses are struggling, partner programs should look at ways to benefit their partners beyond the sale, including support on building partnerships, lead generation, marketing promotion, and much more.
Unfortunately, we will not be traveling or shaking hands any time too soon. Vendors need to look for ways to maximize their online presence and generate leads digitally. Although the pandemic has hurt many businesses, it is simultaneously changing the way people shop and dine out forever. The technology that has been designed as a response to COVID-19 will become a fixed feature in many of the stores and restaurants we continue to visit.
It is important for vendors to think forward in their technology and product development and understand how to sell online.