October 20, 2020

Should You Let Your Sales Team Out? Building Relationships in This Sales Environment

By Paul Daniels

Lately, people I talk with are curious about how businesses in the glass industry are utilizing their salespeople. Are they letting them out in the field, or keeping them in? Are they working from home, or coming into the office? There does not seem to be an easy answer.

I read an interesting white paper prepared by SalesPartnerships.

The paper went into a lot of detail on how to decide when it’s safe to go back in the field. The basic points of emphasis were:

  1. Does your area say it’s okay?
  2. How it will affect your brand?
  3. How should you evaluate the safety of your field territory?
  4. What training will be needed?
  5. Do your customers want to see you?

The paper went on to cite a survey of 5,000 small businesses about their willingness to accept a field sales visit when they reopen their businesses and 98% indicated they would have no objection to a face-to-face visit if proper safety precautions were taken. But what does that mean?

Most company representatives with whom I have spoken are keeping their salespeople in most of the time. They may have them make visits when needed or requested by the customer, as long as they are scheduled appointments and both customer and salesperson wear masks and adhere to the 6-foot rule during the call. Customers with retail show rooms, with customers coming in, may be more open to personal visits. It is also important to understand what your sales staff feels comfortable doing.

In my old life, we always felt that you can build just as strong relationships over the phone as in person. In today’s environment, I think field salespeople have a real advantage working over the phone. They have been in the customer’s shop, they have seen how the business operates, and have a personal relationship with the customer based on past visits. In this environment, relationship selling is key. Using the phone to stay in touch with your customers and being there when they need you is the key to keeping your customers happy and showing that you are concerned with keeping them well. You want to reassure them by letting them know what steps you and your company are taking to keep staff safe so there won’t be any service interruptions and that you are there to take care of them.

PS: I want to wish Don Friese a happy birthday. Don turned 80 this month and is still going strong. I have been with Don many times when people asked for advice. Don would always start with “If you take care of the people who work for you and take care of your customers, you’ll do pretty well.” Wise words.