4 Steps for Developing a Post-COVID-19 Sales Call Protocol

May 7, 2020
4 min

Shelter in place orders are being lifted across the country, leaving many businesses trying to figure out what normal operation looks like now. Many states have mask requirements and capacity reduction orders in place to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. These guidelines will continue to impact businesses in the veterinary industry as we work to create in-person revenue opportunities for our sales organizations. The transition back to in-person meetings may be rocky. Use these guidelines to create a safe, considerate sales call protocol for your employees and your customers.  

Step 1: Provide Options—Virtual or In-Person

Depending on your prospect’s location, they may still be uncomfortable with in-person meetings. Provide them with the option to have a virtual meeting until in-person meetings are safer. Prospects will appreciate the choice.

Before you start in-person meetings, make sure you have a social-distancing approved sales call protocol (see step 2). You can help your prospect make an informed choice between a virtual or in-person meeting by communicating this procedure up front (see step 5).

Step 2: Develop Your 5-Pronged Sales Call Protocol

Develop a simple procedure for your sales team to follow. It should be a one-page document that outlines your corporate guidelines.

Consider providing a laminated copy for your team to carry with them (that can be easily wiped down and disinfected). This may be shared with prospects or customers if they want to know what your team is doing.

  • Masks and Gloves: Must be worn at all times in the clinic. Provide instructions for how to properly don and doff gloves and masks to ensure they are being used effectively.
  • Equipment and Product: Provide corporate instructions for what products can and can’t be brought into the clinic at this time.
  • Disinfecting Procedure: Outline instructions for disinfecting any products and peripheral equipment (laptops, iPads, etc) that enter the clinic during this time.
  • Social Distancing Procedure: Provide guidance for how sales reps should distance while visiting clinics to maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
  • Employee Health Monitoring: List any employee health monitoring steps that your company is requiring such as daily temperature checks and exclusion criteria (eg, coughing, fever).

Step 3: Train and Equip Your Sales Team

Once your procedure is done, make sure your sales team is trained to follow new procedures. The team training extends beyond hand washing and sanitization. These new meetings will initially be uncomfortable. Your team needs communication tactics to help craft an experience that they can feel good about.

Help them handle the greeting

Provide tips for addressing the contactless greeting, like an air five or a namaste-type greeting. To avoid awkwardness, it can help to address the lack of handshakes up front.

Remind them to set expectations at the beginning of the meeting

The folks sitting in front of your team may not be the ones they communicate with before the meeting. Make sure your team addresses the current situation and how the demo will go. This will get it out of the way so your prospects can focus on the presentation.

Equip them with supplies

Make sure your team has what they need to execute your protocols. Send them a supply of masks, gloves, and company-approved disinfectant for themselves and your products. If you intend to require them to monitor their temperature, provide a thermometer.

Train them on use of supplies

Protective equipment and procedures will only be as effective as the person implementing them. Teach your team how to properly wear a mask, don and doff gloves, and disinfect product surfaces.

Document your product disinfecting process

Provide a document with proper product storage and disinfecting processes to ensure product is not damaged through the disinfecting process.

Consider your protocol for sales of demo inventory

You may need to adjust the protocol on the selling of demo inventory during this time. This will ensure proper sanitization takes place before product is put in the hands of customers.

Paperless considerations

Across industries, businesses are looking for ways to limit the exchange of paper. Consider revising your sales order process to be paperless. If you do this, you’ll need to train your team how to execute the new digital process.

How far is 6 feet?

Train your team about what 6 feet looks like and how to conduct the demonstration at that distance. The team may need to use a presentation-type format with a computer and a projector to work around the distance requirements. Or they may talk a prospect through interacting with your product from a safe distance.

Step 4: Explain the Sales Call Protocol Up Front

Once you’ve created your protocol and trained your team, you’ll need to set expectations for your prospect up front. Clearly explain how this visit may be different from past visits. This will accomplish a few things:

  1. If the veterinary team already knows what to expect, your sales team will be more comfortable conducting the sales call with the new protocols.
  2. The veterinary team’s expectations will help your sales team be more compliant with the new process.
  3. Your prospect will appreciate the information and sensitivity to safety protocols.

Topics to Communicate Up Front

Your team should communicate the new procedure at 3 key times: when requesting a meeting, scheduling, and confirming. The team doesn’t have to spend a lot of time on this. However, explaining how the meeting will go will increase everyone’s comfort level.

  • We’ll be skipping the handshakes and elbow bumps for now.
  • We’ll be wearing our masks—and practicing smizing.
  • As much as we’ve missed you, we’ll be maintaining 6 feet of distance. Our demonstration has been adapted to accommodate the distance. We’ve been trained on what 6 feet of space actually looks like.
  • We won’t touch anything without gloves, including our products. We’ve been taught how to properly don and doff gloves to make sure they’re doing their job.
  • Even though we’re not touching our products, we’ll still be disinfecting them before they come in your building. If you want to know more about our disinfecting procedure, we’re happy to share!
  • We won’t be bringing as much in as usual. Some of our demonstration will be conducted on a computer to make sure we’re not bringing in anything unnecessary.
  • We won’t be getting snuggly with your patients—but we’ll definitely miss that part!
  • As a standard procedure, we take our temperatures each morning. If anyone has a fever, the sniffles, or any contact with those who do, we’ll reschedule with you. Your safety and comfort are our top priority.

Opening Lines of Communication

Keep lines of communication open in your sales and marketing organization. The team will quickly learn how to navigate these new processes and can help each other with communication tips to make prospect expectation management more comfortable.