As the global economy remains uncertain, what you do today will help you accelerate tomorrow.

Here are ten best practices to help you build a more resilient organization that will excel in any market condition:

#1 Trust Matters More Than Ever.

Whenever there is sweeping change and uncertainty across the board, relationships built on trust matter more than ever. Vendors who have earned the trust of partners have a clear competitive advantage. Likewise, vendors should focus on their trusted and committed partners and continue to be transparent and consistent with them.  

#2 Maximize Your Partner Channel. 

Segmentation becomes very important because every minute you spend with a partner is an opportunity cost of speaking with another. Ensure you have the right, committed partners closely aligned with you. It’s important to strategize together to maximize one another’s strengths.

#3 Understand Profitability and Strategic Value Simultaneously. 

When revenues are down, we must focus on the areas that are most profitable and strategic for you and your partner. All million-dollar deals are not equal. If one has a 2% margin and one has a 20% margin, it’s pretty easy to know where you want to spend your time.

#4 Focus on Near-Term Deliverables. 

As a leader, you are always balancing your responsibility to have a clear vision for the future (along with the strategy and plan to get there) with the need to quickly execute and deliver. In times like these, the pendulum needs to move toward the near-term deliverables without abandoning the longer-term items. Focus more on the now because the market will be much more competitive, customers will be driving hard bargains, and you will need to win as many qualified opportunities as possible. Shorter-term milestones, compensation plans, incentives, and focus are important in these economic times.

#5 Increase ‘Joint Value’ Collaboration with Your Strategic Partners. 

Your partners are also trying to determine their focus and where to allocate their limited resources and budgets. Develop and enhance your joint business plans to address economic challenges and work together to identify opportunities with higher win rate probability. Eliminate the 10-page PowerPoints and the 17-tab spreadsheets – make the plan come to life on one page. Joint Value Planning will ensure you and your partners are focusing on products, markets, and customers with the highest ROI.

The increased strategic engagement with key partners will require an in-depth understanding of their business models, strengths, and gaps. Leverage best practices in the following areas to jump-start your strategic partner focus:

  • Partner Segmentation / Identifying Strategic Partners
  • Co-Innovation / Co-Creation
  • Joint Business Planning
  • Partner Investments (MDF, BDF, SDF)
  • Joint Account Mapping

#6 Nourish Your Tactical Partners. 

The increased engagement with strategic partners will require a plan to ‘care and feed’ your tactical partners. This could include more use of self-help tools or migrating some tactical partners to the ecosystem (i.e., distribution, aggregators, marketplaces). Partner referral programs also provide tactical partners with opportunities that do not require a great deal of enablement or support from the vendor. They accelerate the flywheel effect for all and lead to incremental revenue for small business partners.

#7 Lean Into What Your Partners Have to Say. 

In our increasingly complex business environment, it’s important to lean into and stay ahead of your partners’ business needs and challenges. The best way to do this is through Partner Advisory Councils (PACs) that create opportunities for you to hear what your partners are thinking and to reinforce that your program is a strong resource for their business. When hosting a PAC, be careful not to use the time to showboat a new product or marketing campaign. Instead, leverage the time to actively listen to your partners and facilitate a valuable conversation that connects the dots and helps to redefine your joint strategy. The best approach is to use a third-party facilitator who is skilled at creating a safe, impartial space that encourages open and honest communication and drives meaningful outcomes.

#8 Encourage Open Communication. 

Your people (always your most important asset) will be concerned, perhaps with their job. As a leader, now is the time to be even more available and present. Building your virtual open-door policy is important right now. Communicate more frequently and be as transparent as possible about the realities of what we are facing.

#9 Invest in Your People with Whatever Budget You Can Secure.

Studies show that investing in your people leads to 65% greater engagement, doubles productivity, and increases retention rates. As the business world rapidly shifts, as leaders, we must ensure their employees have cutting-edge skills and knowledge to build trust with their customers/partners in the new customer dynamic.

#10 Employee Mental Health Will Continue to Impact Companies.

Recent research has revealed that 40% of U.S. workers say their job has negatively impacted their mental health in the prior six months. The research highlighted factors that can improve mental health and overall employee engagement: 1) Match employee strengths to their responsibilities, 2) Build trust between leaders and their staff, and, 3) Connect employees’ values to company culture.

We challenge you to start implementing a handful of these best practices today and encourage you to reach out and share your success with us.