The Importance of Strong Business Relationships During Social Distancing Conditions
The global pandemic of COVID-19 has disrupted all our lives this year.
Businesses of all sizes have seen the effects, both positive and negative. Small business that cater to local patrons but require close contact such as restaurants and barbers have had to alter their business models or close due to state mandated restrictions. Many of these small businesses did not enter the pandemic with enough financial resources to survive these disruptions, and many have closed for good. Others have relied on strong, sometimes decades-old relationships with their loyal patrons and their community which have allowed them to survive and, in some cases, thrive. Mid-sized businesses and large multinational businesses did not go unscathed through this event. Some have failed to survive and others have taken significant losses to their bottom line and to their retention of personnel which will haunt them into the post-pandemic future.
Medical guidelines instituted to mediate the spread of the virus have included state-mandated “Stay at Home” orders, social distancing requirements (separation from other humans by 6 feet or more), restaurant closures, and gathering limitations. These have disrupted most of our interactions with others including our extended families. Travel limitations and restrictions, either governmental mandated or company policy have added to business disruptions. This is especially felt by the salesforce.
Statistics show that on average, face-to-face interactions with one’s customers is less than 7% of a salesperson’s time, but the most important aspect of sales. The pandemic has made face-to-face interactions very difficult, limited, or non-existent. All salespeople will defend the position that the business relationship they build with a customer is of the utmost importance to maintaining sales and discovering opportunities for growth. Much like the restaurants who’ve converted to drive through service as opposed to dine-in services, those with the best success have relied upon long standing relationships with their loyal customers. Salespeople who have had the benefit of building strong business relationships with their customer enjoy the fruits of their efforts in times where face-to-face interactions are reduced or curtailed.
This is not to say that the sales force can’t continue to build on existing relationships or even build new ones within the current pandemic environment. Far from it. A good salesperson continues to monitor their current business, continue contact with their current customers, while still pursuing new opportunities, sometimes in new areas of business and new markets. Technology has given the modern salesperson new tools to interact with customers, such as Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and others. Still the face-to-face method is dearly missed.
Recent announcements of possible, highly efficacious vaccines give us all hope for the future that we can return to some version of the past. Allowing us to visit our extended families to having our children return from school without worrying if they are putting us and our older family members at risk. Hopefully as well as returning to conducting our business in a more personal manner than what we must endure now.
Until the vaccinations reach a 60-70% inoculation rate in the public, we must embrace the new technologies, re-double our voice and digital communications with our customers, and look for new markets and opportunities for our wares. To rephrase the old Persian adage, “this too shall pass”, but until then, we should not overlook, nor under-value the importance of maintaining and building strong, durable, mutually beneficial business relationships. If you’re interested in connecting with a First Source Worldwide representative, please click the picture below to contact us.