How Distributors Improve Customer Retention A common rule of thumb in distribution is that it…
How To Keep Your Team Focused and Proactive During COVID-19
In this ever-changing environment of local “shelter in place” orders, or simply ensuring social distance to help “flatten the curve”, distributors are looking for ways to maximize their connectivity to customers and employees. So, how can you maximize connectivity in this period of social distancing?
SMP Gives You the Right Tools
When it comes to your employees, empower them with tools they need to be successful. Access to information at this time is critical. Consider giving your more of your employees access to SMP – they can access data on customers, contacts, sales history, quotes and even open order backlogs right from our platform – from their home or work PC. This can eliminate the need for adding additional safeguards directly to your ERP or current work PCs your users have already. SMP can be accessed over the internet and allow them to gain access to key information to stay productive, empowered and engaged!
What impact does this have? Most importantly, they’ve got the info they need to succeed. Making customer calls – by phone instead of in-person – are now easier because they have data at their fingertips. They can prep for the call using all the customer-centric information we bring into SMP already – sales history, products recently purchased, open orders in the backlog, recent quotes/bids issued to the customer, critical contacts, and notes from past interactions via the activities log. After the call, it’s easy to log outcomes – who did you talk to, when, and what was discussed. Are there action items for follow-up? Create a task and assign it to the right person to complete that work, if it’s not you.
Now is a Great Time to Follow Up On Bids and Quotes
If you have inside team members who are now working remote or who are in the office but practicing appropriate social distancing, you may find that they have a bit more time on their hands than in the recent past. Engage them in the Quote/Bid follow-up process – ask them to follow-up on all Quotes/Bids they’ve sent to customers in the last month. Use this as a chance to find out the status of the customer’s business, how they are doing, what their needs are, and if they still need the product requested in the quote. Perhaps they need to delay it, or depending on the industry, they may need to up quantities and trigger the order immediately. Remember: communication is key in remote working environments. So logging activities with good notes is important – include important info learned about the customer’s business, push back the “expire date” on the quote if you know the need has been delayed by “X” days. Add a task with a future due date (and relevant notes) to follow-up with the company again at the right time to find out if they’re ready to proceed.
Finish Those Projects
For your outside sales force, they’ve likely gained a couple “working hours” in their week (or even in the work DAY) because they’ve got less “windshield time” driving location-to-location now that they’re working from home. Use this extra time to your advantage – all those projects you’ve been putting off due to lack of time/busyness of the season – well, now is the time to resurrect those. Contact cleanup/updates, customer profiling updates, putting better sales follow-up and activity tracking into place to develop good habits for the future.
Make Virtual Sales Calls
In addition, don’t discount the FaceTime/Skype or virtual sales call (VSC), either! Inside and Outside reps (or managers!) can still keep up their normal schedule of these with their customer accounts. They can log outcomes in SMP, set up follow-up tasks for themselves so they know what the next/upcoming need or follow-up timeframe should be. Best of all, in all the scenarios above, managers can see/access the info in SMP anytime to keep an ear to the ground about what’s happening in your various geographic areas simply by reviewing data in SMP, and help teams pivot where needed. Remember, the customer “calls” may not need to be as frequent in the current environment, but they are nonetheless critical – staying in front of customers, showing them you care about their team and their business are important components to the overall customer relationship.
Keep Up Your Sales Meetings
In the midst of all this, let’s not overlook the importance of sales meetings – host them via GoToMeeting (also marketed as LogMeIn), Zoom, or even Microsoft Teams if your company is using the full suite of Office 365 products. You may find that you need to meet more frequently than in the past, especially as your team adapts to working remote! SMP provides a great platform for hosting your sales meetings and keeping them on topic. Use Market Analysis or Business Totals to review overall sales trends happening within your branch/area, and with your specific customers. Review the recent/new/large Quotes/Bids that are in the system and talk through a follow-up gameplan involving inside AND outside sales (see above info!), use Activity Review to review what Phone Calls are getting logged and the type of feedback your reps are getting from their customers about their business needs. Check out the Tasks that are waiting for completion, and/or use the mass-Task-add function to mass-assign Tasks to your team based on expectations and strategies discussed in the sales meeting.
If you’re using SMP Dashboards, make sure to use specific Dashboard Sheets to facilitate the sales meeting conversations – such as the Sales Rep Scorecard, the Sales Call Analysis of Customer Meetings, and the Performance sheet. All of these are base sheets immediately available to you and your team!
Take Care of Your Team
Last but not least – and this isn’t really SMP-centric – be sure to use this time to do a “temperature check” with your team. How are they coping with all the change swirling around them, how’s remote working going, and ask for ways you can help and support them at this time.
Tip: GoToMeeting and Zoom are offering free services now to help keep us all connected, so you should be able to use these at NO COST to your team. If you’re not sure how to get started with these services, let us know. We’ve been using these tools for years and would be happy to help you navigate this new environment if needed!
These are all (easy) ways you can keep your workforce engaged AND productive even in uncertain times. Having a plan that keeps your team proactive, engaged with your customers and investing in process is never time wasted. Time invested here now can help you be ready to jump when the rebound begins.
Check Out Our Online Training
If you’d like to take a peek at a few of our Best Practices videos to help your team get a jump start on using SMP in the above ways, check out these trainings specifically (with more available on our On-Demand Training Channel):