FROM THE TOP
by John O’Brien, CPMR
We keep hearing that companies are opening back up, but what does it really mean for us as reps and salespeople? Are we going to be able to return to our standing weekly visits to customers? Will we be spending all day driving from customer to customer reviewing designs, developing in-person relationships and driving new opportunities face to face?
In my opinion, the answer is no and here’s why. Customers are all implementing flex time, so our contacts will not be in the office every day. Offices and cubicles across the country are having personal effects removed as companies make room for shared resources during flex time. Key people within a company may have moved during the pandemic, opting for full-time virtual work. The list of changes happening within our customers goes on and on. So how do we respond?
First off, we need to continue to develop our skills when we do get the in-person call. In a previous article, I wrote about pre-call work that needs to go into the time we do get to spend face-to-face. The key to our in-person meetings will be the effectiveness and efficiency in how we can conduct them. Second, we need to continue to develop and grow our virtual meeting capabilities. Like it or not, they will be a part of our world in sales. We need to continually improve the professionalism with which we conduct them. We also need to stay ahead of the curve as these technologies develop and change. Finally, we need to continue to create ways to develop new customers. We can accomplish this by getting even better at marketing our principal’s product to perspective customers along with current customers.
We’ve aways touted our services as outside sales and marketing and now is the time to bolster those marketing efforts. Improved marketing programs help attract new customers and they help us reach our existing customers in an efficient manner, driving stronger relationships. We as manufacturer’s reps have strong local contacts, in-depth customer knowledge, proximity to customer’s locations and a focused approach to our particular markets. By improving our internal marketing capabilities, we can augment our principal’s marketing efforts locally to drive new opportunities and continued growth.
There are many platforms out there that can help us develop marketing outreach programs and I would strongly suggest working with not only our manufacturers, but our distribution partners to see how we can all collaborate on these efforts to drive continued growth.