How to be a successful US Sales Manager in 2021 without being able to set foot in America could almost be a board game, where the aim is to overcome certain obstacles and restrictions before the last flight leaves. The only issue is, it was, and still is a reality. So instead of being frustrated by the lack of international travel, here’s a handful of reasons why I believe being a remote salesman can actually be a good thing.
Being Banned from the States
When Covid-19 cases started to rise rapidly around the world, I was over in New Orleans at the International Amusement Expo. As a relatively new US Sales Manager for Rugged, I was spending weeks at a time over in the States, meeting our partners, building relationships, and visiting parks and sites that have our products.
Fast forward to today and I’ve spent the last 15-months with my feet firmly on British soil, with the only hope of seeing America being through of my laptop on a video call. Right now, I’m the furthest thing from ‘hands-on’ selling as I could be…
Zoom – the Saving Grace
The first thing to be completely clear on – there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. But when this isn’t an option, video calls are a gift. Being able to interact via video makes you much more accessible, especially when compared to email correspondence. You suddenly go from a name on a page to a real person with a personality, voice, and of course, a British accent!
With most of our products sold through partners, this new way of working has meant that I’ve had direct video calls with site owners – during installation, pre-launch and post-opening of a facility. I’ve been given tours around trampoline parks and met the team on the ground that will be working closely with our equipment. So, for me, this is one massive positive that I hope will continue as travel restrictions lift.
Time to Grow and Understand your Markets
The pandemic has been hard on many markets, but leisure and indoor play has been one of those hardest hit. Whilst a large chunk of our customer base was trying to stay afloat and ride-out the pandemic, it gave us time to really understand our markets and customer needs.
Since Covid-19 began, we’ve developed 8 new products, improved the effectiveness and efficiency of some of our most popular products, and found new markets for existing ones. Of course, a lot of this would have eventually happened, but the downtime accelerated it – new ideas were formed, and a certain level of out-the-box creativity was unleashed (…for some more than others).
Rugged sell into multiple sectors (indoor adventure, healthcare, schools, active ageing and fitness), all of which have had their own struggles. Spending time researching each customer’s needs, speaking to those experiencing ‘it’ first-hand helped us to better understand how we can offer a solution.
It feels almost inevitable that some industries and organisations may not ever recover from this, but as cliché as it is – when one door closes, often another one opens…
Opportunity to Make a Change
Indoor adventure and trampoline parks had their doors firmly closed for most of last year. As restrictions lift around much of the world, many of the parks that have survived are looking for ways of enticing customers back.
They want new things to shout abut and features to create fun and laughter that has been greatly missed. For us, this has been an exciting opportunity and has enabled us to trial some of our latest developments in live sites who are looking for something different.
Stats show that as many as 50-70% of gym goers have not renewed their memberships. Does this all mean they are suddenly not all exercising? Of course not. They’ve just found new ways of working out at home. So here lies an opportunity for new products to emerge that give gym goers their endorphin hit. Not everyone has a space big enough in their home for a running machine, squat rack and cycle ergometer. Instead, users may be looking for an all-inclusive product that can give them cardio, strength, speed, HIIT and happiness. Home gyms very much look like they’re in for the long-haul… and so are we.
Being remote has been extremely difficult at times, but it has opened my eyes to the opportunity of being a ‘different’ and better salesman. Ensuring customers feel supported and connected even when you’re not in front of them is the most important thing I can do from afar. Striving for excellence, offering support and solutions even in the toughest of times can make all the difference to a customer. So hearing how thankful they are for this is almost as good as hearing “Welcome to California”.
by Robin Mills