In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world, and each of us has been experiencing the shockwaves ever since. It’s no secret that we have entered a new normal. Businesses and industries of every kind have been affected if not turned upside-down. Previously tried and true methods of doing business have been upended, and Millwood’s sales team is no exception.
That said, in true Millwood fashion, our sales team quickly adapted to the new normal imposed upon all of us. They’ve managed, under the pressure of difficult circumstances, to fill the needs of customers.
Regional Sales Manager Tonya Taylor, from Atlanta, GA, has tripled the revenue in her territory in the past fiscal year, an accomplishment which earned her Millwood’s Soaring Eagle sales award.
“Our job as we know it has changed, I think we would all agree on this,” Tonya said. “The days of going into companies to introduce yourself and leave a business card is not as easy as it was before March.”
Tonya now has a different way of meeting prospects. If she is able to, she calls ahead to make an appointment; the challenge, however, is knowing how to get with the correct person. Finding names and job titles on LinkedIn, scouring our own records for older leads that have not been closed and even meeting people as they leave their offices are all ways Tonya has attempted to overcome this challenge.
“Meeting people as they come out of the office has been a new way to get information to a person,” she said. “Most people will pass your information along to the correct person.”
Tonya has found that customers vary on whether better costs affect their buying decisions. For some, a better cost does not warrant a change because businesses aren’t interested in making changes in times of uncertainty. Others have no choice but to look for savings after business has slowed down.
Regional Sales Manager Amy O’Connell has also had to adapt to the changing landscape of sales.
“As a traveling salesperson, COVID-19 completely disrupted my schedule and stopped all person-to-person meetings,” Amy said. “For months, I felt disconnected and frustrated by the lack of customer interaction.”
During the onset of the pandemic, Amy’s west coast territory was shut down and manufacturers only allowed essential workers onsite. Like Tonya, Amy found that many businesses were not comfortable making drastic vendor changes. She used most of her time informing current customers that our partner mills were still running and able to provide pallets.
In July, Amy started to get an influx of calls and emails. The reopening of businesses and the onset of agricultural season led to a higher demand for pallets, but there was a smaller supply in circulation. Since retailers had been closed, they had not been cycling used pallets back into the market, and in California, widespread fires had burned supply.
“Now I have more customers than before and no pallets to sell them,” Amy said.
While the workplace changes have been stressful, Amy says that her work-life balance has improved since she started working from home.
“More than ever, I have been able to interact with my children on a daily basis and have re-integrated myself as a parent,” Amy said. “Change is challenging and not easy, but it is an opportunity.”
Thank you to Tonya, Amy, and the rest of the Millwood sales team for facing the challenges of COVID-19 head-on. We look forward to the growth and opportunities that come with change as our sales team continues to step up to the challenge.