12 ways you can prepare your business, your team and your customers to go back into the field safely and successfully in a post-lockdown trading environment.
The pandemic has impacted businesses all over the world, and for many it’s been a long, hard lockdown. For those in the UK, 21 June can’t come soon enough, as many of our UK customers have been waiting on tenterhooks to hear when they would be allowed to open their doors again.
Finally, hope is on the horizon. So, we wish our many British customers all the best as lockdown eases, and we look forward to seeing an uptick in orders being logged again.
For all our customers all over the world who are at various stages of pandemic-freedom, we thought we’d put together this checklist to make sure that you are “all systems go” and ready to take full advantage of what lies ahead.
Here are 12 ways you can prepare your business, your team and your customers to go back into the field safely and successfully in a post-lockdown trading environment.
1. Account planning
This will help you to determine where your sales reps should be spending their time to maximise their sales. Review your accounts at a company level, then categorise and prioritise them based on who the top spenders are, who has outstanding invoices and what they are buying or have stopped buying. For instance, are they buying from a competitor now?
2. Review sales processes
Streamlining your sales processes will improve efficiency and productivity and help you to strike the balance between keeping competitors at bay while strengthening your customer relationships cost-effectively. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Can I make it faster? Maybe you can eliminate some steps, reduce unnecessary time spent on admin, or remove duplications.
- Can technology make it more efficient? If your sales process is paper-based or runs off Excel spreadsheets that rely on manual updates, you could investigate shifting to an app or automated process to increase efficiency and reduce human error.
- Should I re-evaluate customer visits? This is a good time to re-evaluate whether your visits are giving you the best impact. Perhaps you don’t need to visit all of your customers as often as you did in the past. Maybe you could increase in-person visits to bigger, more profitable customers instead, and use a hybrid approach of video, telephone and infrequent face-to-face visits with smaller customers.
3. Enable working from anywhere
Now that we have worked from anywhere, we’ve learnt that we can! So plan for, and enable your sales reps to work effectively from anywhere – from home, from the office or on the road. This will reduce time spent commuting and increase time for visiting customers and selling. The right technology and processes will help you to do this.
4. Create new territory plans
Things may have changed during lockdown. For instance, you might have or need fewer reps, or you might need to adjust the frequency of face-to-face customer visits over the short term. Some customers might want face-to-face visits – or might still be working from home. It’s worth looking at all of those details and ensuring each rep has the appropriate workload if things have shifted.
5. Review budget and commission structures
Given that territories, workloads and approaches may have changed, you will probably need to adjust your budget accordingly and ensure commission structures are set up to match.
6. Review Covid-19 protocols
There’s a tendency to drop one’s guard when lockdown measures are relaxed – it’s just human nature. So ensure your team understands the need for continued vigilance, and review or develop your own company protocols. These will minimise the risk of contracting Covid-19 during a customer visit for your reps and customers. Communicate your safety protocol to your customers to set their minds at ease before a visit. Also find out what your customers’ meeting protocols are for visitors, and whether they are accepting visits at all. Skynamo’s customisable in-app COVID-19 screening form is a brilliant online resource to help sales teams set up and run protocols that work best for their business.
7. Check stock levels
Do a careful check to determine which products’ sales were affected by the pandemic and consider whether there will be a surge in demand for them as trade restrictions are eased. And then ensure you are stocked up on the right items to cater for the increase in demand. If you need to rely on imports, ensure you’ve taken import delays due to backlogs into account. Also, don’t forget to check for damaged or expired stock.
8. Identify any competitors you want to displace or keep at bay
Customers had a lot of time to think, and they might have re-evaluated what products they want to stock and sell; they may even be open to new options. Check your customers’ shelves to see if there are new competitors since the start of the pandemic. Equally, assess whether any competitors have gone out of business or had their products removed.
9. Establish or rebuild relationships as a priority
After so much time without a regular face-to-face visit, it’s extremely important to re-establish your customer relationships. Sadly, you may also need to build new relationships with contacts who have replaced your previous contacts due to illness.
10. Read up on any industry changes
The pandemic may have resulted in changes to protocols and procedures, or new regulations in your industry. Make sure you are familiar with them before your team goes out into the field to ensure you aren’t delayed because of a lack of adherence.
11. Communicate with customers
Let your customers know you are still in business and ready to resume trading with them. Perhaps start off with a special offer to kickstart things, business and encourage or reward your first purchase post-lockdown.
12. Sweat the small stuff
Finally, don’t forget those nitty-gritties – all the behind-the-scenes stuff like petrol cards and airtime still apply. Also, make sure your fleets have been serviced after standing idle for so long and that all technology is still in good running order.
Skynamo is the Field Sales Team Management software and Mobile Sales & Ordering app in one.
The mobile-first sales app and Field Sales Management software for businesses that do repeat selling and servicing to an existing customer base. Skynamo tracks and analyses sales rep activities and provide sales history, stock, pricing, and promotion information, so reps can make smarter decisions and sell more.
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