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Business post-coronavirus

Business post-coronavirus

By David Gordon

The coronavirus has changed your business outlook for the year. While tragic, and disruptive, keep in mind the phrase “this too shall pass.” Now is the time to keep calm and make sensible decisions.

Here are some thoughts regarding doing business in the coronavirus era:

Take care of your people. If they are concerned about family, they are less focused on business. If they feel you are not concerned about them, or their family, their commitment and loyalty to the business diminishes.

Clean, clean and re-clean. Yes, you’ve heard it and hopefully you’re practicing it and preaching it. Some distributors have told us that they are also spraying incoming orders with Lysol and then waiting to put the material away. Others have staff wearing gloves and changing them frequently. Drivers need to be stocked with gloves, sanitizers and wipe everything down regularly.

Warehouse staff are critical. While many others can work remotely, warehouse personnel and drivers are the lifeblood of your cash cycle. If material can’t get put on the shelves and then taken off to be put into trucks or customer vehicles, business stops. Consider how to support them. Consider how you can increase capacity in case someone gets sick, someone needs time off due to family needs, or just needs a break. Perhaps Amazon and grocer’s plans of adding some staff may make sense. A little extra capacity could be helpful, or identify some “remote” workers who can transition to the warehouse.

Consider additional delivery services you can offer. Distributors are providing curbside pick-up/curbside delivery. Distributors are having customers call, email or text orders and are bringing material to the truck. Some companies offer overnight delivery/early morning delivery as a standard, some are promoting it. Some distributors deliver to lockers or remote facilities.

Social distancing is changing delivery confirmation processes. No longer hand over a clipboard/keyboard for a signature. Consider taking a photo with a time stamp or an alternative documentation method.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Sales has always been a sub-segment of marketing as it was the human delivery of messaging. Now salespeople are remote telemarketers. Make sure they are “smiling and dialing” to keep in touch with customers … and multiple contacts within each customer. This is the value of relationships.

Remember those “compensation justification” accounts that every salesperson has? The accounts they rarely call on? With reduced windshield time, perhaps salespeople can place calls, or at least emails, to these accounts. Let them know you’re 1) concerned, 2) open and 3) available to help them.

Companies are pivoting as they expect the new business environment to last for an extended time period. Online training sessions becoming the norm requires presentation development, invitations and reminders as well as coordination of multiple presenters from multiple locations (home) and training presenters on retaining engagement.

Credit checks. With a fluid work environment and jobsites in some markets being shut down, check the DSOs of your customers. Many companies work on a cash flow basis. No cash coming in means no supplier payments going out. Be cautious, but at the same time recognize that these are customers you will want to do business with later.

Automate. Use this opportunity to utilize and promote the automation tools that you have. If you can take online orders, promote it. Offer a text ordering service, promote it (or allocate a phone and promote that text number). Utilize e-marketing tools creatively to share information (and be creative through promotions, top 10 lists, business updates, etc.).

If you have a CRM tool, conduct a sales refresher. Without the ability to visit customers to share an update, populating CRM with the appropriate information may be more important than ever.

Consider setting up private LinkedIn or Facebook groups to keep customers informed and to share community information.

While now is the time to batten down the hatches, it can also be the time to do some planning and/or address things you’ve put off. As we get into a rhythm of working remotely, there will be opportunities to utilize downtime differently. Remember: coronavirus won’t win.

David GordonDavid Gordon is president of Channel Marketing Group, which helps manufacturers and distributors in the construction and industrial trades generate ideas to accelerate revenue. He can be reached at (919) 488-8635 or

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of Industrial Supply magazine. Copyright 20198, Direct Business Media.


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