April 8, 2020
“We want to come out of this stronger, we absolutely do. And we want to, if we can, come out of this more connected, sharing of similar values, sharing of similar thoughts, and direction. I think that we do have a tremendous opportunity to change the paradigm going forward here.”
“There's so much trust that is required to have an effective buyer-seller relationship. It's still an open question mark. Can you develop that kind of trust virtually as opposed to physically?”
There’s no question that a distributorship faces challenges from time to time. What happens to the industry landscape when the entire world is hit with the same crisis?
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pass grim milestones, it’s impossible to answer that question definitively. Only time can tell which practices our community will return to and which will give way to innovation.
As my business partner Marshall Jones and I continue to watch events unfold, one thing has become clear to us: business has been forever altered in the span of only a few short weeks. In this episode, we assess the positive and negative impact of those changes.
Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.
This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.
“I think it's very early to determine whether or not it's going to have a long-standing effect on how we communicate in distribution,” says Marshall. The pandemic-related ubiquity of online meeting platforms like Zoom has become a lifeline in the age of social distancing, a tool for company survival.
While not ideal for some companies, staff meetings are conducted remotely. But what about those clients with whom in-person contact was the norm? How does an outside salesperson’s value translate via the screen? Has the pandemic brought us to an inevitable tipping point?
“You know, the extinction of the outside salesperson has been predicted many, many times in the last, 50, 60 years. And they're resilient creatures. They keep coming back.”
Customer relationships aren’t the only connections managers should be taking a close look at right now. How are team members handling remote work? While some may thrive on the noise and camaraderie of a typical office bullpen, I’m hearing that others - often those without children at home - are more productive at home, away from distractions.
How will businesses reintegrate staff once shelter-in-place orders are lifted? And what does post-pandemic service look like will-call and walk-up windows? Are there deficiencies in your procedures that the crisis has exploited?
Whether companies were looking to make changes or not, changes are coming. “Leadership really needs to spend a lot of time as people start to come back, listening to what went well during the quarantine, during the stay at home time, and what they struggled with.”
The environment we're facing now, the way that we’re trying to connect right now and communicate right now, will have an impact. It's going to put a dent in tradition. When the current crisis is over, who will be satisfied going back to business as usual?
As owners and managers, we want what’s best for our customers and our employees. Take time now to ask yourself, what does our service look like in the future?