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The home-working revolution does present challenges, but there are a lot of arguments in its favour 

As of 15 May 2020, Zoom, the video conferencing service, was more valuable than the world’s top seven airlines combined. This highlights a monumental shift as to how we communicate with each other, and also questions the necessity of travel for business and pleasure.

The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a home-working revolution. There will be some that argue you cannot use a video call to emulate the benefits of working together. And, granted, not everyone can work from home. However, there are a lot of arguments in favour of home working where possible; reduced chance of the workforce falling ill from Covid-19, saving on office rental costs, reduced travel time, environmental benefits, a better work-life balance and so on.

In the world of fmcg, many business meetings that would previously have happened in person will now happen remotely via video conference. For many suppliers, face-to-face meetings with buyers will now be a thing of the past.

This poses a challenge. In a world where a retail buyer can look after up to 100 suppliers, as an account manager how on earth do you get cut-through over video conference, phone and email, when there are hundreds of other account managers also fighting to get a piece of the buyer’s valuable time?

I believe there are three ways account managers can optimise their chances of engaging successfully with their buyer remotely:

1. Communication Buyers are extremely busy people. Therefore communication with your buyer needs to be clear, concise and consistent. Account managers should not inundate their buyers with missed calls and countless emails. Instead you should only contact your buyer if there is a genuine opportunity to help them grow their business or solve a problem.

2. Data Buyers like numbers and facts. A great way to support yours is by analysing robust data and providing valuable insight that can be turned into positive action.

3. Multi-level contacts Support your retailer at multiple levels within their business. I’ve been speaking to a lot of suppliers about this recently in the light of Covid-related supply issues. If account managers can spot and fix issues in retail supply chains, for example poor availability on a key selling product, not only does it save them a job, it helps to boost sales for you and the retailer.

The home-working revolution does present challenges but is a fantastic opportunity for both retailers and suppliers to save on cost, reduce unnecessary travel time, improve employee work-life balance, and help the environment.