Channel partners are fighting on their own front line against the Coronavirus.
Telarus chief operating officer Richard Murray praised the agent community for how it has supported the rising tide of remote workers amid widespread stay-at-home orders for “nonessential” businesses.
“I’ve been extremely proud to see what the channel has done. What the channel – not just Telarus, but the channel – has done for businesses of all kinds has been extraordinary,” Murray told Channel Partners. “We’ve helped save companies and jobs because of our response to this, in answering calls and helping people get turned up on solutions that allow their employees to continue to work.”
Executives from Telarus, Telecom Consulting Group (TCG), Intelisys and PlanetOne Communications illustrated how they, their suppliers and their agents have lived and worked through the last month. Their descriptions paint a picture of how technology solution providers have embraced flexibility – and optimism – to serve customers during a pandemic.
“We are in uncharted territory, and must work together to stay engaged and keep the lines of communications open with our teams, customers, partners and prospects,” PlanetOne CEO Ted Schuman said. “The role of the channel is essential to moving business forward — providing valuable relief to business owners and corporations who are struggling with anywhere, anytime connectivity, and working fast to securely mobilize their workforce overnight.”
The challenge is twofold as partners themselves must relocate employees to home offices. Indeed, we can call the challenge threefold when we consider that suppliers and master agents are emptying their offices at the same time.
“While there are challenges as partners mobilize a fully remote workforce and also work to continue to support their end-user customers, this is also a great opportunity for our partners to become even stronger trusted advisers to their customers — to provide them with the right solutions to connect and collaborate with ease,” said Intelisys president Mark Morgan and ScanSource North America sales president Tony Sorrentino in a joint statement. “We are doing all we can to make this possible.”
The prognosis on the virus and its health impact has shifted dramatically over the last month. Many master agents went from RSVP’ing “yes” to the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, to cutting back on the number of attendees they would send to the show, to accepting the show’s postponement.
**Editor’s Note: The Channel Partners Conference & Expo was rescheduled on March 25. Learn more here.**
Telarus formed a committee in February to prepare for various scenarios; for example, what would the company do if an employee lost access to day care?
“So when that happened, we were able to just run the play. I won’t say that our calls on all the scenarios that we ran were perfect, but it’s helped us not to be trying to make up stuff right on the fly,” Murray said.
That meant adjusting expectations. Murray said Telarus is well known for fast turnarounds responding to partners and delivering quotes. But many of the staff involved in those processes needed to take care of their small children during their work day. Telarus shifted its employee expectations away from a standard eight-hour day to a “get-your-job-done” day, according to Murray.
“We had to give them the freedom to be able to step away from their computer for a half-hour to an hour to go change the Disney video, to make lunch and to address those little things,” he said.
Telarus ensured that backup was in place for the employees who need step away momentarily.
“Our partners have responded incredibly. They understand,” Murray said. We’re probably turning quotes faster than a lot of masters; it’s just not our freaky-fast normal.”
Dan Pirigyi, partner at TCG, said his company’s office-to-home transition provided a …