November 3, 2020

Safely Sending Your Sales Team Back Out into the Field

By Paul Daniels

I had several responses about my last blog from outside salespeople who were adamant about how important it is to keep in personal contact with your customers. Our industry is a relationship-based business, and many of us have developed strong friendships with our customers, that sometimes span multiple generations. This can sometimes make it hard to adhere to smart policies when making in-person sales calls to keep everyone safe.

As we enter the fall and winter seasons, it is important to rededicate ourselves to safety protocols. If your company has not instituted a structured COVID-19 policy for the sales staff, you may want to develop one yourself. This way, if you get into a situation you or your customer may feel uncomfortable in, you can quote the policy, making it less personal. Example: let your customer know that it is company policy that you and your customers wear a mask, always keep a 6-foot distance and keep your sales call under 10-15 minutes. If any of your customers feel this is not necessary, you can blame it on the policy. Your customers will respect that you follow your company’s directives.

The company SalesPartnerships that I quoted in my last blog just came out with part two of its white paper. This section is titled, “How Do You Safely Send Sales Professionals Back to the Field?” Its main point is, “The final nuts and bolts consideration for returning to (and staying in) the field is vigilance. Simply doing your research once, saying it is ok, and then providing tools and training to your teams is not enough.”

You do not want to assume all your employees understand basic protocols:

  • Don’t go to work if you feel sick or think you have been exposed to someone who is, or has tested positive;
  • Wear PPE in the field, keep 6 feet between people and sanitize after each call or surface contact; and
  • Be careful what you hand or collect from your customers. This includes handing them a business card.

A new one they emphasize is keeping your sales calls to 10 minutes. As more research has been done about pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic transmission, the risk of potential transmission increases substantially after 10- to 20-minute interactions indoors whether you wear a mask or not.

Sometimes it may be unavoidable to keep a meeting to 10 minutes. In those cases, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area that allows for 6-foot spacing for participants. If you are making a sales call in a home or office, request that the doors or windows stay open during your visit and stay focused on the call, keeping it as short as possible. I know that being brief can be new to many of us, but we all need to keep up with the latest and best practices. Following up a personal meeting with a phone or zoom call to extend the meeting may be the new normal for a while.

The paper ends with some good advice.

“Questions are still being researched that can change how and what we do as field professionals. As much as all of us would love to not think about the pandemic, being a responsible leader of a field organization requires that you stay up to date.”