How has the pandemic shaped business for Verizon partners over the last year?
We have a tendency to talk about the pandemic as always having a downside. The reality is some industries and some businesses have had a lot of unintended upside. Our partners who were enabled to do things like support local business or local government, or organizations that needed to do distance learning or help parents juggle the craziness of hybrid learning, those partners actually found a new opportunity and actually resourced those spaces, where maybe they were once a small part, they became a much bigger part. Which just is a reminder to me that being able to sell across the business stack is important for partners. Some are further along than others. The partners who struggled were those that were not digitally enabled. Those that really heavily relied on coming to [the customer’s] location and knocking on doors, they struggled. I think no different than small businesses, candidly, but they struggled with having the actual technology to do virtual. We all think that we’ve got it because we do Zoom with our families, but it’s very different to engage a customer while they’re living in a new world on video.
I think the blind spots were that so many kept thinking that it would be over in 30 days, so they never made the investment. I think the businesses that sat back and waited for the return to normal really struggled. Those that had some cash flow and who had been successful in the past were able to pivot a little faster. And those that were enabled were actually able to maybe do better than they had done in the past. COVID-19 had a lot of learnings. I think we sometimes focus too much on the downside where a lot of time and money has gone, and we haven’t spent as much time on where we got it right. If I can get back what I used to have, plus maintain what I got in incremental, I’m actually in a better place coming out of this. I try to remind my team that yes, the local retail world has struggled, but try to get a landscaper to come a do a quote for you right now. They are booming and [very] busy, so there’s not one story. I think we just have to make sure we’re focused on both.