Anton Shelepchuk, Vice President of Worldwide Sales, NAKIVO

Converting challenges into opportunities: channel initiatives in times of change 

Anton Shelepchuk, Vice President of Worldwide Sales, NAKIVO, explores how the channel-vendor relationship can be leveraged and adapted to convert challenges into new reseller opportunities and initiatives during turbulent times.

With the Coronavirus outbreak, 2020 was a year like no other. The channel and vendors alike had to adapt to radical change by rapidly rethinking plans and processes in order to maintain business as usual. Charles Darwin notably said, “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” Here, we explore strategic shifts the vendor and channel community can make to turn challenges into opportunities, reflecting on both recent and upcoming events and the lessons that can be learned.

Opportunities in the face of change
During the pandemic, large numbers of staff working from home led to an increase in the vulnerability of organisations’ data, resulting in exposure to ransomware attacks. This threat saw many organisations seeking enhanced data protection and ransomware-proof backups. In response, quick-thinking channel partners took on a vital supporting role for their customers by focussing on their data protection needs. This has led to opportunities to improve relationships with end users through education about how to prevent, detect and recover from attacks.

 Lessons learned
Data protection is an important goal on every company’s agenda, as corporate data loss can lead to revenue loss. By sharing case studies with prospects, resellers can showcase how their existing customers are able to protect their data. For example, emphasising how a current backup or data recovery software can reduce management time and make the data recovery process faster. Even if in-person meetings are not always possible, channel communications will become more streamlined in engaging their customer audience in online meetings, webinars, and educational workshops around data protection.

Embracing a readiness to counter adverse situations is a valuable skill that will serve the VAR community well in an uncertain future. Looking ahead, this will enable the channel to emphasise to new customers that outside influences such as a pandemic, or Brexit, will not be a hindrance for investments to their business. Instead, adaptation to new circumstances will take the form of taking advantage of market trends during challenging times.

Vendors can likewise play their part by proactively helping resellers to find and onboard new clients. In place of face-to-face meetings, the new opportunities can be grown via joint marketing campaigns, webinars, demonstrations, and virtual installation sessions. With these new methodologies in place with the support of vendors, the channel will be able to continue to develop and maintain sales growth, even in the presence of external challenges.

Critical success factors
When it comes to the vendor-reseller relationship, loyalty is key and uncomplicated partner programmes work best, especially during turbulent times when hands-on resources are less likely to be available. In addition, rapid responses from vendor channel managers and support engineers when required makes a big difference in creating trust.

Initiatives and incentives continue to be beneficial in aiding resellers to meet end user requirements, even in uncertain times. Free of charge deployment sessions, training packages and certifications are all helpful aspects of partner support, while local distributors are also beneficial. Partners also believe that an easy to use, intuitive product that does not require extensive training, combined with an appealing price point, is an ideal combination. Vendors developing the most demanded features by customers at an affordable price can provide a massive boost to resellers in engaging a broader customer audience, especially during challenging times.

  Partner programme co-creation and development
Two major goals for resellers are to create revenue and set themselves apart from the competitionVendors can support their channel by proactively building trust-based and friendly relations with resellers through the sales department gathering features requests that are relevant for partners, and then feeding these insights back to the product team. This helps to make the product even more competitive and desirable for end users. Sales teams can also assist with email-blasts, webinars and on-demand virtual demos for potential new clients. Vendors evolving the partner programme with input from the channel will ultimately help their resellers to increase product and service sales.

Being proactive, taking initiative and finding new ways to attract customers are behavioural traits that should become second nature to resellers and be encouraged by vendors. A willingness to work and adapt together, is the tried and tested recipe that will help ensure ongoing, growing sales during the most challenging of times ahead.

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