Well maybe not today or tomorrow but we are all going to be out there again, hopefully sooner than later. So, let’s talk about what we need to do to prepare ourselves for our long overdue re-entry into the world of face to face sales.
I know that it will not be business as usual, those of you who are kind enough to regularly read this humble column know that I have spent a great deal of time and words on that subject, you know that working from home thing, that selling without visiting customers thing and I have enjoyed doing it, and I hope you have found that advice helpful.
But now it’s on to the future, I hope in the near future. What are we going to do when it’s time to sell by actually being able to go out and visit customers face to face?
Here are a few tips and guidelines for you to use as you get ready to get out on the old black ribbon of the highway once again.
- Do your homework. As with everything in life preparation is key. Make sure that you have stayed in touch with your customers so that you know what is going on with them. If you have not done a good job at this shame in you. But there is still time. Reach out to them; send them an update on how you are doing. Ask them how they are doing and most importantly start laying the groundwork for the time when you are going to be able to visit them in person.
- Review what they have done with you and your company during the shutdown. Did they continue to order as normal or did their business wane as the pandemic lingered? Or maybe their business actually increased. Regardless of what happened, make sure you know what the score is and plan your sales approach accordingly.
- Develop your sales tactics. In some cases, you will be able to pick up where you left off and get back to life the way it used to be, the way it should be. For other accounts you are going to have to literally pick up the pieces; you might even be back to ground zero in your newer accounts. That’s fine, just prepare for what you are going to have to do.
- Be ready to offer prototyping and NPI (New Product Introduction). As we have been discussing lately, we are now in the midst of a time filling with new product development. The world has changed drastically and with that kind of change comes tremendous innovation. Companies that were known for building one product may have moved on to another as the market is demanding new medical electronics products, new safety and security products, and new decontamination products to name some of the most obvious ones. Are you ready for these changes? You’d better be if you want to succeed in the next year!
- Develop synergistic partnerships. If you are a board fabricator then you should be finding yourself a good design partner as well as a very good assembly house. With innovation and new product introduction comes the need for speed. Your customers are going to be looking for vendors who can provide them with a fast, accurate and technically capable one-stop shopping solution. They are going to want people who they can trust but in terms of business as well as capabilities who can get the job done faster than ever before. If you want to wow your customer base you’d better be able to provide that kind of service, and to many of you that is going to mean finding the right partners. You’d better start lining them up right now
- Make sure that you and the rest of your company are all on the same page when it comes to approaching your customers. In the last few months (hopefully) of this pandemic lock down you should have been sitting down with your entire management team and developing your re-entry strategy, not only in terms of sales and marketing but also in terms of preparedness of the facility including your technology, flexibility, adaptability and quality. Make sure that everyone on your team is ready to meet the needs of your customers which as mentioned above includes providing a complete synergistic solution from concept to reality in a matter of days not weeks. Not months, but days!
- And finally follow the rules of the house. In this case your customers’ rules. If they want you to wear a mask wear it; if they want you to scrub up with Purel do it. If they want you to keep a social distance do it! Don’t make selling even harder than it has to be, comply with your customers rules for safety no matter what they are.
Look, we all know deep in our hearts that everything is going to be okay. We are all going to get back to work; we are all going to be able to get out there in front of customers soon enough. But do not think it is going to be exactly the same as it was before, it will not. But one thing it will be, is this: it will be great to get out there on the road again actually seeing and talking face to face with our beloved customers. I for one can’t wait! It’s only common sense.