Qlicksmart hosted our first ever distributor brainstorming session in April. Distributors from Europe and South Africa joined us via Zoom for 90 minutes to discuss the impact that COVID-19 has had on distribution and brainstorm ideas for the near future. Here’s what we learned together.
Challenges to Distribution
In many countries, stay-at-home orders and restrictions on hospital visitations are creating problems for field sales staff. Not being able to access facilities has made it difficult for sales staff to demonstrate products and talk to current and potential customers.There has been an overall decrease in demand for many products that don’t apply directly to COVID-19. While there is a high demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hospitals and medical facilities are more focused on fighting the virus and do not have time to investigate other safety products. Early stockpiling of medical supplies has created some issues in supply lines, especially with PPE products. As well as the decreased demand from hospitals, the shut down of non-essential medical services such as elective surgery and podiatry has meant that many of us are seeing little to no demand for products and services from these sectors too.
Strategies to Overcome Challenges
Maintaining contact with customers is of vital importance to all distributors. With the distraction of COVID-19, it is easy for customers to forget about suppliers and business partners. To maintain contact and a healthy business relationship, many distributors are checking up on their customers with phone calls, emails, and online messages. Sales staff are using their time at home to personally check on their customers too. Positive messaging and being supportive in customer communications is being received far better than product advertisements. Messages that thank facilities for their public service, or thanks them for supporting local businesses have been receiving encouraging responses from customers. Remember, there is currently a clutter of COVID-19 emails from most suppliers and businesses in customers’ inboxes, so standing out from the herd is a good thing!Within less competitive advertisement spaces, distributors are using this time to raise brand awareness. Distributors are directing resources that would usually be allocated to cancelled activities like trade shows to generate online brand awareness among potential customers. Platforms include; social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc), newsletters, emailers, magazines, medical journals, and website posts/updates. Even though some potential and current customers might not be trading or working, they are still listening and interacting online.
The group also discussed offering discounts to customers to generate sales, and remind customers of their brand. Some distributors are focusing on essentials markets where they can make sales such as Anaesthetics and Aged care. These distributors said that they have decided to wait out the pandemic, and are using this time to prepare for a re-opening after restrictions are lifted.
Using Qlicksmart’s tools
Along with management strategies for COVID-19 restrictions, there are different ways that distributors are supporting their customers using resources and materials from Qlicksmart. Digital resources like the Qlicksmart “How to use” videos and PDF brochures are being shared with customers, which have been found useful in providing information and refreshers without face-to-face contact. Digital resources have also been useful when replying to email or online enquiries about Qlicksmart products. Print-outs and physical copies of brochures are being included with deliveries. These have been helping to answering any questions that customers might have, but more importantly as they can act as a reminder to re-order as they can be kept long after stock has been used.All product brochures and resources are available on the Distributor Portal. How to Use videos are also able to be watched via Qlicksmart’s YouTube Channel.
Qlicksmart Safety Devices’ important role.
Distributors identified the rising need for healthcare workplace safety that the Qlicksmart safety range provide. The group agreed that when the focus on coronavirus begins to slow down, hospitals and clinics will be looking for solutions to cover all aspects of safety in their facilities – not just PPE. Media coverage worldwide has highlighted the importance of keeping healthcare workers safe at work. In line with this, Qlicksmart has been sharing our message that “We invest in staff safety – so should you”. Distributors agree this messaging will become increasingly relevant, as people learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and look further into safety solutions.
We will be hosting brainstorming sessions for distributors in South and Central America on the 27th May and for distributors in Asia on the 4th June. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending.
Distributor Brainstorming Session for COVID-19 Strategies (Europe and South Africa)