Richard Eglon, marketing director at Agilitas, discusses why an outcome-based approach will help the channel thrive in 2021 and beyond.
In 2021, the channel will look to invest more time and resources in understanding how best they can re-connect with people and businesses. This has been one of the main challenges for the industry to address, as it’s made it increasingly difficult to generate new business during Covid-19.
During the pandemic, there has no doubt been a large focus on retaining customers, a strategy that has kept technology businesses relatively healthy. However, the Covid-19 impacted new business hiatus and has continued to grow across many channel firms and they now need to build a strategy to plug that gap.
In the year ahead, we can expect to see the impact of this year’s reduced sales pipeline and future order books as many channel businesses look to reposition themselves in a post-Covid industry. It has also been challenging for many to understand how to connect with new prospects and drive those opportunities as companies would previously, especially if you are in a solution selling or services type business. It is quite often that there are complex scenarios that need to be addressed, where previously, this was facilitated in a face-to-face workshop environment. We have also learnt over the past eight months that video calls can only be effective to a certain point. Because of this, there is a definite need to rethink not just the way we connect, but also the way we nurture our connections.
For the channel to bounce back, once we’re in a position to reconnect physically, we can expect to see growth in large technology project rollouts which will benefit many facets of the channel. There are also going to be larger refresh programmes which will be implemented as the end-user now realising that their businesses outcomes have changed within their workforces as remote working is here to stay. This means that organisations will have to revisit ways to encourage a more agile type of workplace that is more tech-enabled.
Some channel companies will likely face challenging times over the coming six to twelve months, but those who have viewed Covid-19 as a disruptor and provided the chance to drive innovation will be the ones that will succeed. That’s where the channel is resilient in terms of when we’ve had downturns in the past, the channel has been flexible and responsive to the types of environments that it has found itself in. What the pandemic has increased the appetite for is a much more outcome-based approach that is more reliant on the customer experience than a specific product sale.
New business models
Reconnecting by using new business models and new ways of working, as well as embracing the processes that have worked through the pandemic up to now, such as technology conferencing, will allow the channel to expand their methods of collaboration. This will then positively impact business outcomes because companies cannot do it all themselves.
The drive to cloud-based and IoT services will also continue to accelerate exponentially. As a result, there will be more devices to manage across a more complex supply chain. Adding to this, an increased requirement for more governance around sustainability and we now see many channel firms at a pivot point in terms of which direction is their business going to turn.
For companies looking to differentiate, they may begin to look at creating their own intellectual property in some form. This is how they can add real value and stickiness to their customers, by delivering a solution that has immediate benefit to their customers. Data analytics and security will hold many of the opportunities looking ahead for 2021.