Eighteen members of the council participated in the scheduled call and shared their take on how they are personally and professionally progressing through this phase of the pandemic. To ensure a frank discussion, we promise our members this report will record general impression but not the specific names of companies or individuals.
With sales down, marketing has never played a more important role. A lot of time is being spent exploring new ways to get product and services in front of customers.
There is also a greater focus on partnerships to meet customer needs more easily. It’s about delivering the full package now, not just your niche section. More attention is being spent on shared resources and the sharing of information on portals.
Large companies “will be the meat and potatoes” for a while, suggested one leader. The smaller companies will be okay because they cater to specialized niches. It’s the middle size players that would seem to be at risk, but for now, they seem to be doing fine. The SMBs may become targets for M&A activity if the pandemic stretches into a year.
The companies that are buying, they are buying in smaller quantities. If they are interested in projects, they are interested in doing those protects in smaller bites. The clients want proof of small successes that prove value before moving onto full implementation.
Customers are looking for certainty: fixed costs, fixed scope, fixed implementation. The pandemic has made them very “change weary” so the more definitive a channel player you can be, the more they like it.
One company says they have been using “pilots” successfully as a way to build trust.
Empathy and cooperation
One company said their pandemic secret has been asking the customers what they need. They continue to offer webinars, but they have been most successful when they ask what the client wants or needs. Promoting their “open hours” for support on any questions of concerns has also earned them business and praise.
“Talk to your partners. Ask them what they. They may have a need or a way of doing things you haven’t thought about.”
The issue of partner advisory committees was raised. Some have been tapped into them for advice, getting “eye-opening comments and somethings we didn’t want to hear” while others said they had established a committee, but had let it go dormant. At least one member suggested now might be the time to breathe new life into their committee.here was general agreement the pandemic has probably made big live events a thing of the past. As alternative ways of connecting with remote customers beginning to click, the cost and the time commitment associated with big events look unappetizing.
Virtual events with breakout rooms and tradeshow spaces are getting better, but still do not allow connections that replace live events. People are getting smarter with remote tours and presentations and virtual executive briefings for partners and customers are becoming more popular.
There will still be a need for human contact and it was suggested that smaller events may morph into slightly larger events over the coming months.
“The challenge remains engagement. You’d be amazed how many people want to get on the golf course and chat.”
The unequivocal loser in the pandemic will be the hospitality sector which will remain “toast” for two years, regardless of a vaccine, said one leader as the others nodded along.
You are only as good as your digital content.
There are still days of back-to-back video meetings with little more than a bio break. One company said they had to implement “enforced days off” to keep their staff from burning out. Another mandated at least 15 minutes between scheduled video conferences.
There was mixed reporting on the time a channel player can get with an executive. In the early days of the pandemic, it was reported that it was easy to get an executive on the phone because there was less travel and fewer meetings. Now, several members reported direct access is once again tougher to get.
The next Channel Check-In is October 27.