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Account Managers- How to effectively communicate with your buyer during lockdown

As of May 15th, 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.

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a home-working revolution. In the world of FMCG, many business meetings which previously would have happened in person, will now happen remotely via video conference. For many suppliers, face to face meetings with your buyers will now be a thing of the past.

This poses a challenge for suppliers. 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 that support a relevant point or opportunity. Analysing robust data and providing valuable insight, which can be turned into positive action, is a great way in which you can support your buyer.

3. Multi-level contacts- Support your buyer 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 the retail supply chains e.g. 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.

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