Last week Qlicksmart hosted our second ever distributor brainstorming session! We were joined by distributors from Mexico, and Central and South America for another 90 minute Zoom call. Together, we discussed the evolving situation in healthcare and distribution, and brainstormed strategies that can be used now and in the future.
Challenges to distribution
For many countries, travel restrictions are making it very difficult to continue with business as usual. Distributors are finding it difficult to physically support pre-existing customers with equipment and supplies they already bought, as well as generate new leads. Access to hospitals and medical facilities is also making it difficult for distributors to talk to new customers and follow up with product trials and demonstrations, disturbing their sales processes. Like most of the world, hospitals are not allowing sales staff in because of infection control measures. All the distributors agreed that face to face conversation is highly preferred by themselves and their customers, but restrictions have forced them to find alternative ways to communicate and maintain presence.
Overall, there has been a decrease in demand from healthcare. Similar to other parts of the world, reductions in elective surgery and non-essential procedures mean that less equipment is being purchased from distributors. Some members of the public are even refusing to seek medical attention with fear of being infected by the virus. This reduction in procedures and patients along with unexpected spending on PPE has put many hospitals in difficult financial situations which will affect their recovery from the pandemic.
After extended lockdown periods of up to 3 months in some countries, healthcare facilities and governments are trying to re-open to provide healthcare and stimulate their economies. Spikes in new virus cases however, are creating delays and leaving them apprehensive about going back to normal.
Strategies to overcome challenges
Like many businesses, distributors are ensuring that they maintain contact with their current customers. Phone calls, instant messaging, and zoom calls are all being used to check up on customers and their needs. Platforms such as these as well as social media and email are being used to run brand awareness campaigns and approach new potential customers. Some are also approaching their governments to fulfil their medical supply needs.
Instead of sales pitches and advertisements, distributors are providing their customers with resources and education. These types of communications are being received positively by hospitals and facilities as distributors are providing engaging and relevant information. Distributors have been conducting education sessions via Zoom and Skype, establishing themselves as a reliable and credible source of knowledge and supplies that their customers can return to. Sessions have included topics about using PPE, protecting your family while working in healthcare, and more.
Distributors are partnering with groups and facilities in specialty markets to learn more too. They are working closely with these facilities to learn about their needs and troubles so that they can provide focused education sessions and resources. This is giving distributors an idea of what the rest of the market needs too.
Using Qlicksmart’s Tools
After a quick overview, distributors agreed that Qlicksmart’s resources on the Distributor portal, and upcoming digital platform will be extremely useful in situations where face to face meetings are not allowed.
Many distributors are updating their websites with Qlicksmart resources. This has been successful at drawing attention to their websites, and improving accessibility to products and information. Qlicksmart’s blogs, social media posts, and YouTube videos are also being added posted on websites and shared on social media. With the importance of staff safety becoming a high priority in their countries, distributors have found that the Qlicksmart messaging reflects their own very closely, and is being received well by their audiences.
Distributors are finding that the current situation has made it much easier and even preferable to talk about staff safety with their customers. Some distributors are being asked for the highest quality safety equipment available. Qlicksmart’s products have been vital in providing a dynamic solution to many safety concerns. Distributors are even leaving printed Qlicksmart brochures and materials with their customers after visiting so they can learn more about Qlicksmart’s safety devices. These “leave behinds” have also been good at reminding customers to re-order Qlicksmart products when sales staff can’t visit and remind the customer themselves.