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The global coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of us in a variety of ways. Many employees are being advised to work from home to help slow the spread of the virus, businesses are attempting to manage their remote workforces, people are practicing social distancing, non-essential businesses in many communities are temporarily shutting down, and virtually everyone is wondering how long this will last and how it will impact our personal and professional lives.
The big question is: How will COVID-19 affect our industry? Keypoint Intelligence very recently conducted a survey of its bliQ subscribers to determine how dealers, vendors, salespeople, and others are responding to the outbreak. People were asked to provide their thoughts on the coronavirus and how they expected it to affect their businesses, and they were given the option to publish their comments anonymously or publicly (i.e., disclosing their names and companies). Many of the responses were quite candid and eye-opening, and a synopsis of subscriber comments is provided below.
“We’re probably going to see a disruption for at least a few months. I’m a salesperson, and I expect to experience a disruption in my ability to close deals for a while.”
“COVID-19 has dramatically impacted sales activities and figures in the service and manufacturing industries. At least for the short term, we anticipate delayed equipment purchases and diminished recurring revenues/annuities.”
“The market is very soft at the moment, and customers are trying to avoid unnecessary costs. Face-to-face meetings with customers are crucial in our industry, but they are of course more challenging at this time. The demand for outdoor advertising has declined as a result, but we might be able to uncover other business opportunities.”
“I believe that global leaders and the general population are overreacting, and the virus will only have a marginal impact on our business. Some clever marketing campaigns will more than compensate for the cancelled meetings.”
“It’s scary. Most of my business for the remainder of the quarter has been cancelled or deferred. This will affect monthly and quarterly figures. Perhaps the only good news is that the crisis is affecting everything, so maybe the industry will adjust its expectations.”
“Our salespeople have been asked to stop making in-person cold calls and reach out by phone instead. The ability to get out in the field can sometimes make or break a sale…reaching out via phone doesn’t always have the same effect.”
“We’re very concerned about the health and economic welfare of our employees, customers, and everyone else. We’ll do everything in our power to continue operating during this crisis.”
“Sales might drop slightly, but the area of remote work (e.g., VPN, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams) has actually become a growing source of revenue for us.”
“It’s already having a major impact. Businesses are slow to make long-term buying decisions, printshop volumes plummeted overnight, and prospects no longer want to meet. We’re working to adapt and support our clients with more remote meetings.”
“This will be a learning experience for everyone in B2B sales, and it will forever change the landscape of how we operate. Business relationships and sales strategies will be tested more now than ever before. Those who are able to adapt quickly will need to share their experiences with the rest of the sales community so we can work together to remain successful.”
“There’s no question that COVID-19 will affect our business, but the ultimate impact will depend on how long the quarantines last. We were asked to stay open to assist our county and other essential companies, which is nice…but we’re going to experience a revenue loss, so it’s difficult to determine if we’ll be able to keep everyone on our payroll.”
“I think we’re being prudent with the caution we’re exercising. There should be plenty of pent-up business when we come out of this, and we need to be ready for it!”
“COVID-19 is pandemic in terms of transmission, but it can be contained through healthy practices. Today’s businesses can shift their communication channels to match customers’ current needs, and that will create new opportunities.”
“One of my delivery orders for a new machine was postponed because my customer’s offices are closed until mid-April. On the hardware side, though, I’ve been very busy. I haven’t seen any new hardware orders delayed because of the virus.”
“This outbreak might enable us to reach the small office/home office environment. This is an untapped vertical for us, so we hope to reap benefits in the endpoint business space.”
The COVID-19 situation continues to unfold before our eyes, and the long-term repercussions for our industry remain to be seen. We’ll emerge from this crisis at some point, but it’s impossible to predict when or what will occur in the meantime. Our bliQ subscribers showed varying levels of concern about the pandemic, but they did offer some important takeaways. It’s more important than ever to keep close to your clients and remain positive. Explore your options—is there anything more that you can do to help your clients during these trying times? If so, now is a great time to act, because your customers will remember the little things you did to help support their businesses long after the crisis is over.
Remember that your business consists of a variety of customers. While some are feeling the pinch due to the pandemic, others are remaining quite profitable. If you have customers in the restaurant business, maybe suggest printing menus that can be left behind. Healthcare establishments are also quite busy and may need additional equipment (e.g., printers and scanners) to better support their organizations. Meanwhile, clients in the education industry might need equipment for their homes.
Today’s uncertain climate requires more than just business as usual, but there’s always a silver lining. Keep your customers engaged, go the extra mile, and hopefully we can all emerge from this having learned a valuable lesson about remaining successful! For the time being, everyone must work together, share their knowledge, and prepare themselves for the business opportunities of the future.
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