Channel 3.0 – What will you take with you post Covid-19

Like so many of you, I have had a slew of conversations about how to best work with, and support our many dealers, partners, agents and resellers, in our indirect journey during the Covid-19 crisis. And, in these conversations questions still remain. What practices and operations will we take with us when we’re through with the crisis and which ones will stand the test of time? Also, when will those next steps and crucial decisions be made? The evolution of this crisis is inevitable, so we should be planning for it and learning what we can do better from our past experiences post Covid-19.

During a podcast last week with Lisa Penn from SAP, I began to think about what we will keep and what we will discard. Will how we manage our channel change or will we simply go back to how we ran our businesses before the pandemic hit?  Or, will we make long term changes? To borrow from our economic forecast, will our trajectory back towards status quo be a V? a U? or an L? My hope is that it is none of these. In contrast, I believe that we will purposefully plan and work to keep best-practices and only discard the ones that have become antiquated, irrelevant and unproductive.

Lisa and I talked about three areas where we will have to chose to keep our current focus:

Get your own house in order first:

Look inward. For many organizations, this means truly focusing on Customer Experience (CX) and Partner Experience (PX). Before Covid-19, many organizations talked about making this a top priority, but with the current crisis, I’m learning about the dismantling of needless silos so organizations can truly commit to and empower their teams to lead this charge.

From C-suite to install base, this can have a powerful impact on relationships, longevity and loyalty. My hope is that this desire to build long term relationships and improve CX across all customer touch points will stay a top focus. However, to make it a reality, long term commitments and measurements must be put in place. These include, NPS and CSAT, “single pane of glass data analysis,” along with incentives like SPIFFs, MDF and Rebates – all playing a significant role.

Embrace the opportunity to build relationships:

When you have your ducks in a row, focus outward. This is an opportunity for organizations to show empathy and comradery, especially as customers and partners deal with financial and emotional pain and uncertainty. I am seeing smart organizations taking the time to get to know their channel. And partner/dealers are taking the time to listen. In particular, when approached from an empathetic perspective, there is a tremendous opportunity to walk alongside your resellers, VARs, Agents and go to bat with them. But this takes work, planning, listening and patience – all hard to do.

Can we keep it up once we are back to normal – even if it’s a new normal? Lisa says investing in relationship building now will have a 10X payoff. These relationship-building tactics include thought leadership and success blueprints, to sales and marketing enablement and behavior modification rewards.

As we approach a post Covid-19 world, are we prepared to continue to measure and reward relationships and mindshare trends like engagement, top of the funnel DemandGen, post sales experience, customer loyalty; not just sales? The time is now to be thinking about what you will need. Better data? Better tech stack? Less silos? To give more, we are going to need more efficiencies processes and  experiences.

Be consistent everywhere you can post Covid-19:

For me, this is one of the most interesting ideas. Consistency has to start at the top. Commitment to the channel starts at the C-suite and it is impossible to have long term ease-of-doing-business without it. Right now, we want to build on stability, support, reliability – even flexibility.

From communications to discounts, it is a “we are there for you” philosophy that is successfully playing out. This builds loyalty, trust, willingness to invest, which is good for everyone in the channel and will help everyone get through this. But, can we stay true to the course? Can we keep out of our internal silos? Will we continue to invest in partner and dealer success? Will we invest in tech stacks that let us build on relationship building?

Lisa suggests that we take a close look a year from now. Can we quantify, measure and iterate on what we have done to be consistent once we are back? It will start with the c-suite. Do you have the strategy and data to sell the value?

Terms like, Empathy, Constancy, Flexibility have not just crept back into our linguistics. For many, substantial changes in behavior have had to be implemented quickly.  Can we keep it up? What will we learn and what can we take away? Are we preparing for the push back? Questions we should all be asking before we get to the new NEW Normal (yes, that is the new normal after this new normal). For me, I will take the humanity side, the relationship side, the connection side. What will you take with you?