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The Virtual Channel Chat:
June 2020

Patrick Kitson
by Patrick Kitson - June 10, 2020

We again invited Channel professionals from organisations large and small to discuss the challenges, opportunities and approaches they’re taking to tackle the uncertain times we find ourselves in.

Detailed below you’ll find the key takeaways from our latest Channel Chat.



Examining the make-up of your Channel: what your Partners are going to need over the coming months.


One certainty that can be drawn from the current climate is that it has definitely impacted your Partners. From large surveys to individual outreach, the consensus has been unanimous.

Partner pipeline has halved, employees have been put on furlough and managing cashflow has taken renewed importance. More than ever, your Partners are having to be more selective in their activity and they have to prioritise ROI.

Now’s the time to begin looking at how you can support your Partners. Whether it’s helping them implement new marketing programmes or assisting them with “health checks”, aiding your Partners with what they already have in place is imperative.

An inward focus on customer base is the most comfortable area for Partners right now, how can Vendors support that and deepen customer ties.

Sherpa Recommends: The importance of demonstrable ROI into all projects and campaigns is now vital for your Partners. It has to be clear to them how much it will cost, the support they’ll receive and what it will deliver. Transparency and assisting Partners with sales deals is essential.

The changing dynamic of your Channel

The overriding message is that the Channel make-up is heading to the cloud. As Vendors’ business models and strategies are now SAS and/or cloud base, Partner’s business models must move quickly in order to survive.

Whilst not new news it has been brought to the fore by the COVID crisis – Partners that have already moved to cloud and subscription-based business models are more resilient in these uncertain times.

Existing Partners whose business is “on-premise” are being encouraged to move to the cloud and many are successfully achieving it with the support from their Vendors. Unfortunately, for those Partners who don’t move (or don’t get the support) the future looks bleak.

Vendors need to provide support and leadership to ensure Partner mobility – vital for those that want to change and prosper.

Sherpa Recommends: Vendors that encourage close Vendor/Partner relations are more likely to see long-term success for both parties. By being transparent with Partners around expectations and making it clear that you want them to move with you, will build trust. Many Partners won’t have the security to make the transition by themselves, so you must offer guidance and support.


The ideal Partner Profile


Whether it’s using existing models, such as IDC’s, or creating one from your own experiences, your Partner Profiles will more than likely be changing.

When it comes to recruiting Partners, taking a greater exploratory approach has taken precedence, particularly before signing them onto your programme. Vendors are recruiting smaller numbers but with a deeper understanding and more joint planning with the new partner.

For current Partners, new measures and targets are being put in place to ensure programmes continue to drive forward.

Of course, for those Vendors and Partners whose Channel is more established, this is a suitable approach. But what about those who can’t afford to turn Partners away?

Sherpa Recommends: One “profile” won’t suit all of your Partners. Understanding the unique challenges your Partners are facing, and knowing where their strengths lie, will allow you to take a holistic approach to establishing your Partner profiles.

And finally – a note of caution

Measurement of your Partners has to adapt. The traditional methods may no longer be appropriate as they don’t accommodate for external factors.

Each Partner will be struggling in different areas. Where they were once accredited, this may no longer be the case as employees face furloughs and redundancies.



Your Channel diagnosed

The potential scale of your Channel is both your biggest asset and biggest challenge. If your ambition is Channel growth, how do you obtain a clear overview, understand your current position and plan effectively for the future? 

We share a practical model to help you understand your Channel.
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