How Outside Sales Reps Can Be Proactive And Effective During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Mar 17, 2020

These are uncertain times. The spread of coronavirus cases worldwide has produced unprecedented social distancing measures that have impacted every industry, with new changes and guidelines being issued daily.

It’s a particularly tricky time for folks in outside sales. With more companies requiring their employees to work from home, it can be hard to figure out just what to do if you’re not physically going to meet with your clients and customers.

But there are plenty of things you can do that will help you now and pay off when you’re eventually back out on the road. We’ve collected the following tips to help you get started:


Top Tips for Sales Reps Working From Home

1. Plan ahead to stop shaking hands

If you’re still in an area that is practicing basic social distancing, you may still be meeting physically with your clients. In these situations, a firm and friendly handshake is so routine and automatic that not doing so requires some real mental effort. It’s time to accept the awkwardness and think through some real alternatives.

Harvard Business Review suggests to think through what you’d like to do ahead of time in terms of what feels authentic to you. A quick wave, a hand over your heart, or keeping your hand in your pocket with a big smile may all be good alternatives. What you say along with your actions also requires some planning. Does humor suit you best, or does an empathetic reply?

Regardless of what you choose, avoid making any judgements. “Instead of worrying about how your behavior measures up against another, recognize that we’re all on a continuum of risk and uncertainty,” says HBR.

2. Get aligned with your clients

Your first priority should be to touch base with all of your clients and prospects and find out a) how they’re doing, and b) what their business and scheduling plans are during this time.

If you’re already in an area that requires people to stay home, this may need to be done virtually or over the phone. It’s a big transition from traditional meetings, so commit some time and resources to organizing just how you’d like to do that in an efficient way.

As you do so, the real value comes when you update the notes section of your CRM. By quickly writing status updates for all of your top customers, your whole team can know what’s going on with CRM tools and alerts. Customers will greatly appreciate your due diligence, and be thankful they don’t need to repeat the same thing over and over again.

3. Provide enablement for your clients

As rules of communication change, your clients need to know how to connect with you. Consider preparing and providing clear and simple instructions on how to use virtual tools they may not normally use, like Zoom. This will also help you close sales faster.

Also, consider how new social distancing measures are specifically impacting them and their operations. Is there anything that you can provide that can make their lives easier? This is a great time to convince clients to move to digital tools they may have been resistant to in the past. One low-stakes, high reward option is introducing them to DocuSign, so they don’t have to rely on physical paperwork being exchanged between hands to get important forms filled.

Change is scary, however, so be gentle and helpful in your recommendations.

4. Set reminders for the future

When doing these check-ins, it is likely that a lot of prospects will tell you to reach back out in a few weeks. To keep track of all of this, use reminders or activity tracking to set activities for the future. If possible, explore how you can sync those activities with your calendar to make sure you don’t miss any important follow ups.

You can take it a step further and create entire cadences to make sure you are frequently checking in with your top customers. Cadences allow you to specify how frequently you want to check in with a group of customers and what activities you want to check in with. With Data Visualization Software, you can even visualize your cadence on a map to see what territories are on cadence and which ones are falling behind.

5. Clean up your CRM as you go

We mentioned this briefly, but it’s worth mentioning again. This is a great time to make sure your customer records are up to date because it’s a time of high engagement.

After each call, take time to update the location and associated people for each of your companies. If you have set up deals, make sure all of your deals are up to date and in the proper stage. Review all the fields of each entry and clean things up.

If you use Map My Customers, you can even take it a step further and assign your companies into groups for better organization of all of your clients. Grouping customers based on tiers or products can help you get yourself prepared for when you are back on the road.

6. Read and research

In your normal schedule, it can be hard to find time to keep up with the trends and reports in your industry. Now is a great time to review your Google Alerts, your Feedly streams, or the various blogs and industry magazines that you’ve been bookmarking. Or you may want to look into sales certification programs that are offered online.

Beyond your personal enlightenment, think about the tech and software you currently use for things like:

This is a great time to take other options for a spin and download some free trials. Explore the many options within the links above and think about how you can optimize your workflow for the future.

Be Proactive, Productive, And Patient During The Coronavirus Crisis

Transitioning indoors is a huge deal for outside sales reps and it will take some time to adjust. Remember to be patient with yourself as you figure out what a new normal looks like for you.

We hope these tips will give you a head start as you plan for the weeks ahead. Do you have your own strategies or tricks that are helping you during this time? We’d love to hear from you! Tweet us at @mapmycustomers.