This is a strange time! I think most will agree. For outside sales people, their world has been upturned.
No longer can we visit clients, knock on doors, make deliveries, deliver samples or have much person to person contact with end users. Many end users are closed.
Hospitals and healthcare facilities are prohibiting sales visits. Schools are closed. Food processing continues, but contact there is limited too. Restaurants are scaled back to pick up and delivery operation, so their business is off tremendously. Even some of the most successful restaurants during this time are off 30 percent or more.
Most distributors and manufacturers are issuing policy changes that prohibit sales people from making end user calls. There is very little face to face contact with anyone for that matter.
A big change is working from home. We are accustomed to being in the streets doing our thing all day long, so for many of us, this is like house arrest:).
I am starting to have Starbuck’s (which serves as my office on the road) withdrawals.
But these things are all symptoms of a massive change that has been building for a while but has now been realized. This change is the impetus of a shift in how a productive outside rep works.
We have heard for a while that the sales role will change. Because of the internet changing the way end users access information, the sales rep role will changed. Sales reps and their companies no longer exclusively control product information and pricing information. Buyers can go to Google and get tons of information instantly.
The modern rep must now bring something other than product knowledge to be of value to buyers. We must be viewed as trusted advisors. However, that is a topic for another discussion.
While the internet certainly has changed the buying process and sales roles already, an even more significant change is the way people want to interact and communicate personally and in business.
Most younger people prefer communicating by instant messaging apps or text rather than using the phone. Face to face communication s often avoided and electronic communication is prefered. So when a pandemic arrives on the scene, prudent cross infection protocols dovetail perfectly with what a large segment of the population prefers.
The point is, the on-set of the Pandemic has accelerated the cultural shift and we have landed in a new world. At least from the perspective of how how outside salespeople work successfully.
This means face to face interaction with supplemental electronic contact will be reversed. We will now communicate electronically first and face to face secondarily.
Sales reps must be able to quickly incorporate tools that make electronic communication possible. Tools like Zoom and Skype, Microsoft Teams, CRM systems are now the norm. To operate in this environment may be very challenging for those of us who have been accustomed to operating differently. Nevertheless, we must embrace reality rather than waste time complaining about change.
Determine to embrace the change and master it. If you do you will be more successful than you have been in the past. That is what happens when you improve and expand your skills.