Lessons on dealing with COVID-19

Thoughts from an April 7, 2020, C4 Virtual Check-in

A dozen members of the Canadian Channel Chiefs Council gathered for a 44-minute discussion about the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created and the best practices they’ve established to work through the obstacles.

What is the impact on the channel in general?

  • You are either really busy or really slow. Companies supporting remote work and cloud services are flourishing. Smaller hardware resellers are finding kinks in the supply chain are challenged
  • Most participants in the chat were supportive of the government initiatives to support employment and vendor programs that support inventories. 

How members are keeping their staff safe and informed

  • 90-minute weekly conference calls
  • Virtual lunches
  • End-of-day video touchpoints
  • Virtual tea and coffee breaks – and happy hours
  • Pointed reminders to working at home staff to get up and move around
  • Some members said they were going to explore 15-minute virtual yoga and Zumba breaks. “Things we’ve never done in the office before.”

Related observations about working from home

  • People working from home start earlier and work later
  • Productivity seems to be enhanced in a home environment. One member spoke about a process that took four days in the office but was completed in four hours in the new normal.
  • Given the increased productivity, several members suggested a wholesale return to offices was unlikely with many companies likely to have a smaller commercial footprint in the future.
  • Work is going to get more personal, more authentic. The barking dog and the children whispering during a business call were embraced by members. Most suggested the informality – to a point – helps build a healthier and stronger relationship.

How do you look for new business during a pandemic?

  • Some members expressed concern – even guilt – about making prospecting calls when people are suffering.
  • Other said you have to be compassionate/empathetic in your calls, acknowledge the pain but still offer up products and service that might still be in need. You might be surprised.
  • One vendor has developed a COVID-19 playbook that was distributed to all staff nationally. 
  • One member said people are isolated and want to talk. Another suggested more senior people are jumping on video calls.

On relationships

  • Relationships are more important than ever. People will stick with the people they like and they will remember those that tried to help them rather than sell them.
  • Now is the time to explore the “art of the conversation”, with a focus on your existing customers.
  • If sales are light, now is the time to focus on training and certification. This will position you well when the shutdown is relaxed.
  • There has been a spike in webinars, virtual events, virtual training.
  • Don’t forget to communicate via social media. People are spending a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook
  • If you are running into challenges, be honest with your customer or partner. There is no time in history where people are so understanding. People know it is not business as usual.

What members still want to know

What conference platform is the most dependable from a security and presentation point of view?

The next C4 check-in is slated for April 28, 4 p.m. for 44 minutes. We’d love your input.