Sales - Remotely Speaking



remote-sales.jpgThe COVID-19 pandemic has changed every aspect of doing business, including sales. From the first March 2020 shutdown to now, many outside salespeople have had to adjust to working inside for the first time ever. Without being able to regularly visit facilities or meet clients over lunch, salespeople now have had to adapt to do their work from afar.

After working in various inside sales roles for years, I have learned several helpful tips to continue supporting clients from a distance. These tips, which could be beneficial for others to adopt in this new sales climate, include:

  • Love your job and know your product. This may seem ridiculous – who can tell you love your job over the phone? Your clients can! They can hear it and can even tell when you’re smiling! And if you do not know your product/offering well – they can hear that, too! Loving your job, your customers, your solutions, and your team is very important for successful sales.
  • Find out your client’s preferred method of communication. Most of us are bombarded with countless emails every day, leading to important messages getting buried in the chaos. The same is likely true for our clients. Some may not prefer to communicate over email because of this. Others may dislike video meetings. Now, some even prefer texting! It’s important to directly ask clients how they prefer to chat and go from there. In my experience, I have found that phone calls work best to get in contact on their terms, while keeping the conversation personable.
  • Begin all conversations by asking if now is a good time – and respect their response. We’ve all likely received unwanted phone calls at the worst possible moment. When you’re busy, how would you react to a disruptive phone call from someone trying to sell you something? Chances are, it would not go over well. Keep this in mind when reaching out to clients. All conversations should start with asking whether now is a good time to talk. Usually, you can tell if someone is too busy or not in the best mood by the tone of their voice. If this is the case, respect their time and don’t push it. Trying to force a conversation at a bad time can quickly strain or damage a client relationship. On the other hand, respecting clients’ time and leaving them alone at their busiest moment can further solidify the relationship. 
  • Check in with clients regularly to reassess. Business needs and market trends tend to change drastically and often. Keep up with your client’s needs by checking in with them every three months or so. Maintaining frequent communication also keeps you at top of mind the next time they might need something. Establishing some sort of routine for this will help you remain sane!
  • Listen to their needs and goals. Listening is one of the most important skills a salesperson can have. Being attentive to clients’ needs, rather than trying to push unrelated services or products onto them, will help build customer rapport and loyalty. Taking this skill to the next level, salespeople should proactively anticipate the needs of their clients, rather than passively waiting for them to come to you. Pay attention to their market conditions and upcoming regulations or changes to provide the most timely, relevant solutions. For example, our OEMs spent months pushing quality initiatives among suppliers, eventually requiring them to complete GD&T training. Now suppliers are all rushing to complete this training at the same time, which could have been aided or avoided with more proactive suggestions for training.
  • Ask yourself, W.A.I.T. (Why Am I Talking)?  I learned this acronym at a recent American Society of Employers (ASE) conference. This is probably the most difficult lesson for people in sales positions to learn – but remember, if you are speaking, you are not hearing what your client is trying to tell you!
  • Follow-up!  Some say this is easier for those in inside sales roles because they are at a desk all day. But now that so many of us are working remotely, following up should not be an issue! Using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to keep track of conversations and leads certainly helps with this.

Sales may look a little different post-COVID, but one thing hasn’t changed: the importance of customer service. The tips above demonstrate the importance of prioritizing customer service in sales, whether you are contacting clients over the phone or safely meeting them at their facilities. For more insight on how to improve your sales strategies, contact our experts at or attend one of our upcoming Sales Acceleration courses.


Onesian_T-2019-web.jpgTricia Onesian, Business Solutions Manager
Tricia started at The Center in January 2016 as a Business Solutions Manager. Previously, she spent six years as a Sales Executive/Relationship Manager for a highly successful commercial cleaning and building maintenance company. Her customer service passion began more than 25 years ago in various customer service and management positions with paper manufacturing and warehousing companies including Westvaco, Abitibi-Price and Toledo Harbor Warehousing. She also is enthusiastic about helping customers in their individual fundraising efforts that support health and community service programs.




Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at


Categories: Sales & Marketing