Eaton Corp.’s power quality division began 2020 with the wind at its back. The partner program it launched early last year, which included the company’s first track for managed service providers, had attracted close to 350 net new members, many of them MSPs. Certifications across the partner base were up 30%.
“The first quarter was fantastic,” says Curtiz Gangi, vice president of U.S. channels for Eaton’s data center segment.
And then: a pandemic, shelter-in-place orders from coast to coast, and a stomach-churning plunge in economic activity that brought many infrastructure projects to a halt.
For Eaton, the upshot has been a temporary suspension of the partner program drive in favor of multiple efforts designed to help the channel pros who sell and support its uninterruptible power systems, power distribution units, and other offerings steer their way through a difficult time.
“We want to make sure that our partners are solvent and that they know that we’ve got their backs,” Gangi says.
That endeavor began with an outreach campaign aimed at underscoring with partners that as a manufacturer of critical infrastructure solutions, Eaton is an officially designated essential business that has stayed operational despite the COVID-19 crisis.
“Both the inside sales and the field sales team did an excellent job of broadcasting that information to the customers, letting them know that we’re available, and that we’re still here, and that the projects that were deemed necessary could still continue,” Gangi says.
Job number two was talking with partners about their biggest needs, a list that began not surprisingly with keeping cash flowing and employees on the payroll.
“That was what I heard over and over,” Gangi says. “It didn’t matter where they were located in the country or what end markets they were managing.”
To ease that concern, Eaton extended the interest-free loan flooring on its solutions from the usual 30 days to 90. “That gave a cushion for some more of the immediate needs and immediate projects that were in front of the partners, and it helped them maintain that cash flow,” Ganji explains.
To further assist with cash management, Eaton partner reps also shared information about coronavirus-inspired financing offers from some of the company’s top industry partners, including Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Dell.
The other urgent requirement Eaton identified was for remote management tools capable of diagnosing and fixing systems locked away in closed data centers and server closets. “There’s real instances where partners were sharing with us that customers had network switches and connectivity devices that were in their offices that were not accessible and that had locked up,” Gangi notes.
As it happens, Eaton had already been developing a product ideally suited to such situations. Called Visual Power Manager Essential and released at the end of March, it’s a new edition of the original Visual Power Manager solution tailored to the needs of SMBs with limited IT resources and 1,000 or fewer power products to administer. Among its features is a wizard-driven, no-touch remote installation process.