by Tracy Williams-Prince, Sales and Marketing Manager: Delivered Business, U.S. Oil, a Division of U.S. Venture, Inc.

Whether your business is determined to be essential or non-essential during the Covid-19 crisis, all outside salespeople have had to make changes in how they approach customers and prospects.  Any good salesperson knows that it is not necessary to be in an office every day.  In fact, most don’t feel like they are effective if they spend too much time in the office.  The hard part for outside salespeople is not working from home, it’s answering the following two questions:  How do you sell without visiting prospects, and will prospects be offended if you reach out to them during a national crisis?

As an outside salesperson in an essential industry I wrestled with these questions myself and developed the following suggestions for you to remain effective during the Covid-19 Stay-at-Home orders:

  • Build up your prospect list. This crisis gives salespeople precious time to research prospects and discover if you would be able to provide a valuable service to their organization.
  • Update your CRM system with a new list of opportunities. Take this time to add detailed notes about how you can benefit your prospects.
  • Call prospects to find contact names. Ask for the person you would schedule an appointment with when in-person meetings are again possible.  People are still working and looking for ways they can cut costs in their business and personal life.  When you know you are benefiting someone with your offering and potentially saving them money, this may be just the call they are looking for in a time of crisis.
  • Reach out to your current customers to deepen your relationships. This is a great time to stay in touch with those you already are fortunate enough to call customers.  See how they are handling the crisis in their home and work life.  A call or note shows that you care.
  • Use this opportunity to learn. Join webinars about how this crisis is affecting your industry or bone up on skills you may not have time to commit to under normal circumstances.
  • Reach out to suppliers and try to renegotiate pricing and contracts. Everyone is cutting costs and trying to save money.  This may be an opportunity to lower your costs as well.
  • Plan for the time when you can see your customers and make prospect calls again; plot routes and determine the priority of new markets to enter.

Customers and prospects recognize that we are all in this together.  Be honest and ask if now is a good time, or if they would prefer to talk when things are back to the new normal.  They understand that you have a job to do just as they do.  Don’t give up on sales, use this time to your advantage.