There is no doubt that businesses all around the world have been impacted by COVID-19.
But how has it impacted the ISV community? And how have vendors reacted to support their partners to thrive?
In our most recent B2B Revenue Acceleration podcast episode, we interviewed 3 guests with alternative perspectives on how vendors and ISVs have faced COVID-19.
Michelle Auchinachie, Head of ISVs – UK at Sage, shared how she was able to facilitate connections between community members – who would not otherwise have ever met.
Steve Jemmott, Sales Manager at Sicon, discussed how he had to pivot to digital communications and why there is such a systems emphasis in the ecosystem right now.
Michael Ford, Founder & CEO at Castaway Forecasting, told us about his strategic relationship with Sage, his ruined plans for a UK office, and how he’s still had his busiest year yet.
Let’s dive into the discussion!
We wanted to figure out how to help and support each other, our partners, and our colleagues.
Michelle Auchinachie – Head of ISVs – UK at Sage
The impact of COVID-19 on ISVs
Michelle shared her general views on how the market has been affected by COVID-19, and it’s not as dismal as it first appeared.
“In the last six months, we’ve really tried to kick off ISV marketing in the UK,” she said. “We’ve been running a lot of ISV enablement sessions to our sales teams and channel and we’ve run a virtual customer event recently as well.”
Sage immediately took the position that its team members are here to support their customers and the ISV ecosystem, but most importantly to get closer to their community. “We just wanted to figure out how to help and support each other, our partners, and our colleagues,” Michelle said.
These were some of the tactics Sage implemented to support their ISV community:
- A COVID hub. This was a portal for customers and partners to access for the latest updates, including government updates (with help in learning and understanding these also) and company responses.
- Webinars. At one point, the daily webinars from Sage had 2,000 people attending.
- Virtual coffee mornings for ISVs. “Some people were working by themselves and didn’t have that kind of system we had at Sage, so we built up virtual coffee mornings and happy hours,” Michelle said.
Being able to get everyone together to talk about COVID-19’s impact on their businesses, as well as on their personal lives, helped people connect in completely new ways.
ISVs who had never met in person before began to build relationships and collaborate with each other.
Sage very much supported and set the bar, using Teams, calling us in, so we looked at utilising that technology… but more importantly, looking at what collateral could we give to support our partners.
Steve Jemmot – Sales Manager at Sicon
An ISV perspective on COVID-19’s impact
Steve spoke to us about the impact of COVID-19 on Sicon, an exclusive Sage ISV partner.
They’d just had a record year and were planning on even more growth until everything seemed to slow down because of the impact of the pandemic.
“We had a decision to make. Should we utilise the government’s furlough scheme?” Steve said.
The directors decided not to furlough their team but instead used the time to re-examine their internal processes and invest in further training and enablement for the team so that everyone could come out of this period stronger and more prepared.
One of the changes Sicon had to make was regarding their product demonstrations. Prior to lockdown, Steve used to do them onsite, but he had to accustom himself to remote communication.
Testing internal processes and transitioning to greater technology use helped him strategise what he could provide in order to support his customers and partners.
In regard to the support Sicon received from Sage, Steve said that Sage’s weekly coffee mornings allowed him to share and hear stories from the breadth of the ISV community, as well as understand what other companies were doing to grow their businesses during this period.
Sage has been strong as a partner. They opened up a pathway for us to launch hard in the UK this year without being there physically. None of the other vendors we’re dealing with had that opportunity.
Michael Ford – Founder & CEO at Castaway Forecasting
The importance of partnerships
Michael had ambitious plans for 2020 before COVID-19 hit the market. Castaway is an Australian-based company that had been planning to break into the UK market in 2020.
He intended to attend numerous trade shows and had plans to set up an office and hire employees in the UK. “Our entire plan for 2020 was in a mess,” he said.
COVID-19’s impact meant that his ‘on-the-ground’ opportunities were lost. Instead, Michael relied on Sage for additional introductions, connections, and partnerships, which has actually made 2020 a success.
“We couldn’t put people on the ground, but we were able to access a whole bunch of customers in the UK via the Sage account network,” he explained.
Ways that Michael has adapted:
- Embracing virtual trade shows. Michael didn’t leave Australia, but he was still able to be present.
- Attending virtual hangouts. Michael and Steve wouldn’t ever have met otherwise.
- Leveraging networks. He’s learnt that he can deal globally right from Sydney, Australia.
Swapping sales for education. Nowadays, he can speak with a prospect for 30 minutes to an hour without pitching anything.
“Your work has turned into education. We all stopped selling hard and started educating as thought leaders,” Michael said.
Michael is proud to have rotated in order to serve his community in alleviating the impact of COVID-19.
To learn more about Sage, Sicon or Castaway, you can get in touch with our guests on LinkedIn: