For this week's article, Caroline has been thinking about how she's been approaching sales calls and business development during the current pandemic.

Here's her views, and she would love to hear what other people think too.

Recruiting During Lockdown
Over the last few weeks I have read, with interest, numerous articles and opinions on LinkedIn around whether it is appreciated or appropriate to try and make sales during this global pandemic. There have definitely been some people who believe that at this time businesses should not be trying to sell services (through various sectors) and I have read various stories of recruitment agencies offering free services ( that they would normally charge for) or extremely (less than half) low fees.

Ethical Recruiting During Lockdown
I think it is important to remember that we are all going through a tough time, and that one person’s business is not more or less important than another person’s. Personally I wouldn’t want to offer a free service – nor could I afford to; as there is obviously a cost to running a business and I believe a value in what we do. I already believe that the service that we offer is set at a reasonable, value for money price and there is always that danger that once you have offered something for free, the value of it is perceived as free and therefore very difficult to then charge for.

This doesn’t mean however that we haven’t or wouldn’t be flexible to help our clients in this time, (agreeing split fees, a temporary reduction in fee or flexible payment and rebate terms for example) and that is what has been at the forefront of my mind when working with our clients. We are still here to provide a service (not the same service of course as we now all adapt to a more virtual self-distancing lifestyle) and our advice and support is always free of charge.

Making Calls During Covid 19
Contrary to some beliefs I think there has been a necessity to continue to call clients throughout this period, as whilst I appreciate that there is little business to be done, especially within my sector right now, this is a good time to talk to people about their business and the measures they are taking to support their clients, projects and employees at this time. At the beginning of the crisis I spent more time getting to know my clients personally, as they had more time to chat whilst working from home and sites not operational. I have learnt more now about their families and interests and of course all the DIY and home projects they have been tasked to call. Now that sites are starting to reopen, talk is turning more towards business and it has been interesting to talk to clients and understand their response to the COVID 19 operating procedures and returning to Site.

Cold Calling / Selling During the Crisis
It’s not just current clients I have been speaking to. I wanted to use this opportunity to look at the market and potential new clients we would love to work with in the future. My approach has been a little different as there are no longer offices open to call to make an introduction, but I have been using more social media platforms to contact prospective clients and make some connections for the future. Email presentations and testimonials have been sent to demonstrate our service and my mind is very much not just on the here and now but the future as well. 

Making Sales Calls From Home
I have some previous experience at working from home, having been bed–ridden with a knee operation last year and I refer to that time as my practice for working from home in lockdown! In addition to the usual distractions from the delivery drivers dropping off the latest Amazon order and the temptation to eat from the treat cupboard all day, my main distraction is definitely my 2 dogs and I assume for a lot of people this would also apply to children!  When I am planning calls for the day I try to choose a time when I can sit quietly and uninterrupted, however there have been occasions during calls that the dogs have barked (or tried to kill the cat) and it hasn’t worried me, if anything I think these things make you appear more human to the person on the other end of the phone who is probably having to deal with their own home interruptions.

The Future
Whilst sites are starting to open I don’t think that we will be returning to the office “business as usual” anytime soon so I think the calling from home, the Zoom Meetings and virtual coffee meetings are going to become more of the norm

I would love to hear other people’s experiences – either from a recruitment perspective or client / candidate. 

Next week I will be having a virtual coffee with one of our clients where he will be telling us about his successful career and how things have changed in the recent pandemic