I’m writing this from my living room. My cat is looking at me strangely because I’ve stolen the seat he often spends all day sleeping in, and my wife is playing Minecraft. I’ll likely join her once I’ve finished.
Welcome to our new normal. At least for a while.
Here at SanMar, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, most of us have shifted to working from home. Like many of you, we’re adjusting quickly and with an abundance of caution to preserve the safety and health of both ourselves and those around us. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s a lot to deal with all at once.
Which is why we’re here to offer a few tips, tricks and tools that we’ve developed for the challenges of the situation we’re all sharing. These can help you stay connected to your co-workers, colleagues and customers in the days and weeks to come.
1: How to Connect
The Challenge: You need to connect with co-workers to prepare a customer presentation, and then find a way to showcase that good work to your client, all while being responsible and practicing social distancing.
The Solution: There’s no shortage of tools available to help you connect and collaborate with colleagues and clients. You may already even have some available to you. Here are a few to consider:
- Skype – Available in both a free version and as a paid service for larger organizations, Skype is versatile and user-friendly. Bonus: If you have Microsoft Office, you probably already have Skype installed.
- Zoom – Especially popular for distance education, Zoom is a paid service that includes interactive features for the audience to participate without taking control of the conversation.
- FaceTime – Users of Apple products are probably familiar with FaceTime, a video chat feature that is included on iPhones and iPads. What not everyone knows is that FaceTime will allow you to connect up to 32 people at once.
2: How to Present
The Challenge: Your presentation is ready and the appointment with your customer is scheduled. It’s time to put all that technology and your skills to work, showing what you can do when you’re not face-to-face.
The Solution: You might not be in the same room, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an interactive presentation that makes an impression. Here’s a few tips to make sure they’re fully engaged with what you’re showing them:
- Send samples ahead of time. Being able to see and feel the apparel for themselves can make or break your client’s response. Mail samples in time to arrive before the presentation, so they’re not missing out on the full experience.
- Create supporting materials. When you’re not in the room, visual aids can help guide the conversation. SanMar’s Design Studio and virtual sample tool can be especially useful when presenting remotely.
- Get comfortable with video. Your customer should be able to see your excitement, and it’s just as critical for you to be able to see their reactions. Video is a powerful tool that will help you both get more out of the presentation.
3: What to Communicate
The Challenge: You want to reach out and let customers know you’re there, without pushing them away with a tone-deaf message in a time of uncertainty.
The Solution: Take a closer look than usual at what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Ask yourself how you would feel if you received the same message right now. Here are a few things to consider that affect the tone of your message:
- Be authentic. Honesty in our communications is not always pretty, but it comes with a clarity that both customers and co-workers will appreciate. Resist the natural urge to be practically perfect in every way.
- Express empathy. With authenticity comes vulnerability, and the ability to understand each other through shared experience. Our current situation levels the playing field for everyone – let your colleagues and clients know that you understand.
- Be there to help. Now is probably not the time for the hard sales pitch. Instead, focus your message on how you can lend a hand, whether it’s a customer with a billing concern or a co-worker worried about how to deal with working from home while their kids are there.
We’re All In This Together
Finally, please remember that you’re not alone. This industry has always been one of collaboration and partnership, and chances are if you have questions, there is someone you can reach out to for help. As a part of the close community of promotional suppliers, distributors and decorators, SanMar is proud to be able to support those who need it most as we get through these times. As Jeremy and Marty Lott said recently, “We are stronger together and we are here for you.”
If you’d like to know more, please join us for our next webcast on Friday, March 27. We’re going to take a deeper dive on more ideas to help you stay connected in these changing times, including tips on working from home and virtual workspaces, plus more about technology tools and social media.
Social media has become more important than ever as a way to connect and share your story. We’re all learning how to navigate our new normal together. Join the conversation on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
Until next time, please be safe and stay healthy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a village to save, and my cat would like his seat back.