As Covid restrictions ease and more in-person meetings are finally possible, are you feeling the pressure of customer expectations set during the pandemic? Here, sales performance coach Peter Holland suggests how furniture professionals could benefit from adopting a new approach to outreach … 

Over the last two years, you’ve been at your desk and able to provide rapid email and telephone responses to client requests.

If you’re now back on the road, with increased travel time and reduced access to email, this can create a problem. Many clients I’ve spoken with say they are no longer able to provide customers with the immediate response they have grown used to.

This can leave you feeling overwhelmed as you try your best to manage the situation effectively. Unfortunately, your customers may feel frustrated by the ‘apparent’ reduction in responsiveness and service levels.

If this sounds familiar, take heart – you are not alone! Here are three simple steps to correct the issue and boost your productivity at the same time:

1. Communicate

Don’t suffer in silence. Arrange a call with your customers and simply explain the change in your workday circumstances, and reset expectations on what is realistic and possible.

Discuss with them the best way forward. What is their preferred method of communicating – email, text, phone or Zoom? Find out the best time of day to reach them – is early morning or later in the day more convenient?

Create a plan together that allows you the necessary time to respond and provides them with an assurance you’ll get back in a timely manner.

2. Re-educate

Sales has changed. To be productive with your time, you need to incorporate virtual meetings into your schedule.

But your customers may not immediately be open to holding some meetings on Teams or Zoom. During your next face-to-face meeting, why not discuss the benefits of using video conference for some of your meetings, and then demonstrate how simple this is to set up if needed?

3. Triage your meetings

Now that virtual meetings have gained widespread acceptance in the business world, we need to review our productivity.Should we simply go back to our former workday schedule? How would incorporating several virtual meetings into our week affect our productivity?

Why not review each customer interaction beforehand to determine the most appropriate format? Could some conversations be handled over the phone, and would others only require a brief virtual meeting? Which ones would really benefit from that personal, face-to-face interaction?

Imagine the impact of triaging your calendar in this way – the huge time saving possibilities, and your ability to handle more sales opportunities, whilst reducing that stress! Why not discuss this topic as a team at your next sales meeting?