Give trust, to get trust – The secret to success in the Channel
With more than 30 years’ experience working in the technology channel, Frank Nijholt believes one of the secrets to success is trust. Here the European Manager for Channel Marketing at Panasonic Connect Europe explains why…
I still remember the day that the call came in, even though it was over a decade ago. One of our channel partners could close a big deal for Panasonic product in the Netherlands. The only problem? They needed the equipment the next week and we didn’t have enough in stock and there was no official order yet. It was the true test of a channel partner relationship. Can you work together to deliver for the customer when the pressure is on? I got straight onto the phone to the factory. I used all my resources and persuasion (it wasn’t enough!). I called in favours, built-up over many years, and navigated the necessary paperwork. The factory sprang into action and worked tirelessly (even through the weekend) and into the next week to deliver. The end customer was happy, and Panasonic and its channel partner had a valuable sale.
It’s not an unheard-of scenario in the technology industry, but it sticks in the mind because the only way we achieved that goal was because of trust. The partner had confidence in me that Panasonic would deliver. I believed in the channel partner to handle the relationship with the customer and faith in the Panasonic manufacturing team to meet the deadline.
Technology Channel sales can be a complicated business, but after 30 years of working in this field, I think success can be summed up in that one single word…Trust. You have to give some, to get it back in return and that complicated and inter-dependant relationship is the only way to succeed.
Panasonic Connect Europe has over 100 large channel partners across Europe and more than 2000 smaller ones, supporting businesses in a diverse range of industry sectors from broadcast entertainment to education and from manufacturing to retail. These partners are our vital touchpoints with our customers, and they offer an incredibly valuable service. They are specialists in their customers’ industry sector, they understand the local market in each of their territories and they see the emerging trends and challenges.
My role is to work with and listen to these channel partners to help meet customer demand. When they need a “different” Panasonic solution, they need guidance. Panasonic can be a very big ship that is sometimes difficult to steer quickly left and right. My job is to take away any pain from our partners and handle it internally with Panasonic, so the channel partner can focus on their speciality and not worry about the administration.
It’s not always easy being the middleman between the channel partner and Panasonic but don’t feel sorry for me – I love it! I enjoy talking to people, regardless of whether they are the warehouse manager, a salesperson or a C-level executive. To be successful in the channel, you have to be a bridge builder, a connector, someone they trust. Then that trust buys you some leeway when inevitably difficulties occur.
One of the biggest challenges across the technology industry today is managing the supply chain for electronic products. The pandemic, its impact on the supply chain and resurgent demand have all placed strains on the global economy.
A major focus over the coming months is to deliver a new Channel Engagement Programme that we call “Partner World”. This will be our next generation digital platform for the partner community. The objective is to provide as much transparency as possible for our partners. To share all the information they need - from promotions to pricing and service inquiries to availability – in one easy to use and real-time online platform. All secured to the latest technology standards.
It's another big step forward for Panasonic and its partner community. The platform is looking great and I’m excited to roll it out to the community. But no doubt there will be some small, early teething issues and we will be calling on that trust to work together to solve them!