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The Road to Recovery survey: part 2 - the impact on channel business

Alongside Comms Business, we carried out ‘The Road to Recovery survey’, which looked to uncover just how coronavirus has impacted channel partners (CPs). From enforced remote working to sales pipeline impact, the unprecedented situation has led many CPs to adapt their ways of working in order to keep selling and providing for their customers.

In part 1 we explored how remote working had impacted CPs and their workforce. In this blog, we’ll examine how coronavirus has affected business.

How CPs are helping customers and partners

The situation has had a big impact on the economy, with organisations from all sectors needing to adapt in response. End customer operations have been impacted, in some cases greatly increased, decreased or paused completely for the duration of lockdown, and the channel has done its bit to keep providing for customers throughout. To aid customer cashflow, half offered customers extended credit terms, while a third introduced payment holidays.

At BT Wholesale, we simplified access to our Hosted Voice portfolio to assist CPs who were experiencing an increase in demand for remote working capabilities due to the lockdown. We also paused certain fees and enabled the seamless scaling of bandwidth so CPs could simply adjust in light of ever-evolving requirements.

CP apprehension and optimism

In regard to new business enquires, around 70% of CPs saw the number decrease from normal levels. Current pipelines also took a hit with two thirds of opportunities being deferred. Furthermore, when asked about risk exposures, the three most common concerns were rebuilding pipeline, customers going under and running out of cash – a reflection of the uncertainty faced.

To mitigate the decrease in demand, 60% of CPs actively looked for new products and services to sell on to customers, and 77% considered sourcing completely new suppliers. This is linked to the belief that the channel is changing. Enhanced usage of cloud technology and remote working tools will be game changers for the industry, with end customers now on accelerated digital transformation journeys and in need of tools that enable greater agility and performance.

In a previous blog, we explored how Managed Services can help partners to identify and take advantage of new opportunities.

Positively, despite challenges existing, when asked about confidence of rebuilding pipelines, 78% of CPs were at least ‘somewhat confident’ that they can build a sales pipeline under the current conditions; a sign of the resilient mindset possessed within the channel.

Adapt to thrive

Ultimately, the survey uncovered that CPs did adapt in response to coronavirus. Increasing flexibility, both in regard to employees and customers, was vital in helping to secure sales and keep the country connected, but that adaptability can’t simply stop now lockdown is easing. The ‘new normal’ will be a shifting mindset that requires CPs to consistently evaluate the service they’re providing to customers and, if done correctly, there are the opportunities to thrive.

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