Virtual work is now a reality for many employees – and it could be the new norm. What’s it been like for a field sales representative? How best can they serve their customers and stay connected to their company’s culture? Charles Crosby, a Territory Sales Manager based in Boston, shares a few tips that have helped him remain successful throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. I changed my approach when the pandemic struck.
My biggest thing was and is being a more effective communicator. Taking time to understand that my customers and coworkers are going through challenges, too.
I think a lot of sales people went into shock at the threshold of the pandemic. And by that, I mean they sent out way too much or way too little communication to customers. I wanted to be more strategic about it. I’ve always worked remote, but before the pandemic, I was spending more time face-to-face with customers. Now there’s a lot more time at home behind the computer.
I didn’t – and don’t – necessarily need to blow everyone up with emails right now. Customers are worried about insurance and job stability. I wanted to make sure I reached out, told them I was available, and asked how I could help. I think being overwhelmed and contributing to a person’s sense of feeling overwhelmed right now is not good.
2. At the same time, I made sure not to get complacent.
One thing that’s stuck with me from my 7 Habits of Highly Effective People training is always continue to “sharpen the saw.” A lot of times in sales, we get to the point where we think we’ve learned everything about a product or mastered the job. But that’s not the case. The job always throws something different at you every day. There are a number of tactics you can use with customers. Always sharpen the saw. Add more tools. Take the ego out of it. Keep getting better at something, even if it’s not directly tied to your day-to-day tasks.
3. Customers have taken time since the pandemic began to re-assess their businesses, so I re-assessed how I can add value.
Our customers have really gone back to the drawing board to tighten budgets or focus on a more efficient tire program for their fleets. So, they’ve come to me asking for various materials, resources and data that, prior to this point, may not have been atop their priority list. It’s important that I’m able to quickly provide solutions, because it adds value for the customer and builds our relationship.
4. I’m actively staying connected to my Continental colleagues and the company’s culture.
My region includes everywhere in the northeast and down to Charlotte, so we’ve had a lot more internal video calls. Before the pandemic, we would mostly get the big updates from corporate on product launches, policies and management changes.
We see each other and keep up the morale. You see the faces and the smiles and it makes you feel confident to make that next phone call or send that next email to a customer. The morale always felt high and never faded despite all that was going on around us.
I’ve also taken time to really study a lot of the back-end information that’s available to me, but that I’d consistently forgotten about because I was always face-to-face with the customer. Inventory and production levels, reviewing customer pricing information, and administering tutorials for our business-to-business sites.
5. Walk side-by-side with your customers.
I can still be successful – even through this pandemic and working remote – because of the technology, people support and the right strategic goals. It’s nice to see our customers are adapting, too. They want to move forward just like we do. So instead of looking at my customers purely as sales opportunities, I think it’s important to walk side-by-side with them through this journey. It will deepen our relationship and create opportunities for success – for both of us – in the future.
This article was written by our employee.