There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically shifted the way the corporate world now carries out their business initiatives. From in-person meetings and events to more casual conversations over lunch, the corporate world has turned virtual to substitute for these once normal business practices that we all surely took for granted. 

About a month into the pandemic, Kaspersky’s UK team commissioned a survey to gauge the sentiment within the channel industry about the importance of human touch when it comes to the reseller and vendor relationship. The survey overwhelmingly found that resellers felt the human touch factor, otherwise known< as a friendly and thoughtful partnership approach, was strongly missing from their vendor relationships, causing partners to feel isolated from vendors, among other challenges.

After speaking with dozens of channel partners in North America on this very matter, it does not come as a surprise that 

The channel is evolving, but resellers and distributors are still missing the human touch

While vendors have begun to evolve their partner selling approach to be more channel-focused, the ever changing business landscape continues to bring about challenges that hinder this relationship. 65% of channel partners said they wished their vendor relationship was better than it is, and the same also said they feel they could close more business opportunities if they had a closer relationship with their vendor. 

In addition, 47% of respondents said that customer service is the most important factor to them when considering which vendor to work with. This includes a strong understanding of their industry,ease of doing business, excellent customer support and being able to build strong relationships with key contacts at the vendor, including account managers. 

As business needs continue to become more complex, it is imperative that vendors enhance their recruitment efforts by opting for a customer-centric selling model that includes more direct contact with the channel for direct feedback on how they can better tailor their partner programs to address their needs. 

Channel partners are calling for vendor education and empowerment

The symbiotic relationship between vendors and channel partners is at its best when both are working towards a common goal, and according to research, partners believe this can be achieved when they are properly educated by vendors. 

According to the survey, 86% of resellers said that receiving education and guidance from the vendor on the products they are selling is important to them. In addition, 37% said the traits they most want to see in vendors is the provision of education or training on their technology solutions, and the tailoring of specific solutions towards their business needs. If such training is implemented, 71% of respondents agreed that trainings from vendors will help them sell their products more effectively.

Alternatively, 63% of partners said not getting early access to technologies from their vendors is holding them back when it comes to sales. This level of insight is imperative for vendors to consider when discussing their partnership approach with resellers: the more vendors are able to educate resellers, the more partners will feel empowered to better sell their products. Breaking down the benefits of product solutions by offering a more thoughtful approach to training will overall lead to enhanced business growth.

Tips for infusing vendor and channel partnerships with more human touch

The question still remains, what can be done to better improve human touch in vendor and partner relationships during the COVID-10 pandemic? 

Based on personal experience,a great place to start is by holding bi-monthly channel partner trainings that bring the entire channel community together. This allows vendors to share news on recent product releases, new trainings added to the partner portal and discuss how they can help their customers best navigate the current business landscape. In addition, let your creative side shine with virtual event ideas like virtual wine or bourbon tastings. Lastly, if your local state guidelines allow, work with local channel managers to create safe methods to connect in person, whether it be outdoor meetings or discussing partner benefits over a round of golf. 

As we continue to champion our new virtual normal, keeping the vendor and reseller relationship top of mind will prove an essential business strategy that will ensure a new level of human touch that has been missing from the channel.