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Channel programs Opinion

COLUMN: Channel Lessons From The Supply Chain Crisis

Steven Burke

CRN’s Steve Burke gives five lessons learned from solution providers that figured out how to prosper despite the pandemic and resulting supply chain crisis.

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To say the pandemic and all of the ripple effects from the crisis—especially the supply chain shortage—have profoundly changed the channel landscape is an understatement.

Some of these technology, business and sales changes are examined in this issue’s cover story. It’s a story that is perhaps best illustrated by the personal tribulations and heroics of the solution providers we featured. Here, then, are five lessons learned from solution providers that figured out how to prosper despite the pandemic and resulting supply chain crisis.

1. STEP UP AND TAKE ACTION

Many solution providers brought in new accounts as a result of forgoing some up-front sales and profits by deploying highpriced talent or eating the cost of a higher-priced solution to help a customer out of a jam. Relationships forged in a time of crisis are difficult to break.

2. MOVE QUICKLY TO ADAPT AND CHANGE

Those solution providers that put the pedal to the metal to solve customer issues by implementing cloud, security and VDI solutions to help support a remote workforce gained credibility and trust that likely would have taken years to build. The crisis has, in fact, resulted in a stronger trusted adviser channel model.

3. GO TO WHERE THE MONEY IS

The pandemic accelerated cloud adoption over just a few months to levels it otherwise would have taken a decade to reach. Solution providers that moved quickly to provide critical cloud and security services and the consulting and managed services that go along with them are winning the day. Those that stuck with a primarily hardware-focused model found themselves hammered by the supply chain nightmare. “You can’t sell what you don’t have,” said a solution provider who has seen a dramatic increase in his cloud and managed services business in the wake of the supply chain crisis.

4. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE

Solution providers that stepped up and kept customers informed on supply chain issues were big winners. Customers will often be forgiving if they are aware of their options, including sourcing used products, switching to alternate models, ordering further in advance or moving to the cloud. Solution providers that were successful managing the logistics challenges conducted weekly calls with customers that are ongoing to this day.

5. DRINK YOUR OWN CHAMPAGNE

Solution providers that embraced cloud services—including Unified Communications as a Service offerings like Microsoft Teams to communicate with customers—saw huge success. One solution provider increased his revenue per employee by leveraging software tools to conduct sales calls and quarterly business reviews with customers. That also resulted in the number of customers from outside his primary geography increasing from just a handful of customers to 20 percent of sales. Hats off to the solution providers that made the moves to be able to thrive amid the pandemic and emerge stronger than ever. They are moving customers into the cloud era at a breakneck pace and powering a new digital industrial revolution.

Steven Burke

Steve Burke has been reporting on the technology industry and sales channel for over 30 years. He is passionate about the role of partners using technology to solve business problems and has spoken at conferences on channel sales issues. He can be reached at sburke@thechannelcompany.com.

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