Local expert warns of the effects of furlough on sales teams

By Anita Jaynes on 26 May, 2020

A training expert is warning companies that their sales teams will need help in adapting to a new way of working when they return from furlough.

Diane Banister, Managing Director of Royal Wootton Bassett-based Intelligent Dialogue, said the long lay-off could have left staff rusty and anxious about switching their selling to video or phone calls as businesses adapt to a ‘new normal’.

Diane said, “Businesses are going to need their salespeople to hit the ground running, it is a really critical time to get cash moving again.

“As a result of the pandemic the business landscape will have changed for many companies, with face to face meetings being replaced by video and phone calls. This is partly because companies and their customers are discovering that this way of working can save them time and money. They will also need to keep people safe and social distancing will affect the way they sell and have meetings”

But Diane, who has more than 30 years’ experience working with corporates and SMEs on sales training and customer service, said the change is one that salespeople will need to navigate and get comfortable with quickly.

“My feeling is that training is essential because if people have been away on furlough they have got to switch their brain back on again,” she said.

“After being away from their job for so long they may already feel uncomfortable about coming back and meeting people. They may also feel unsure about how to approach or lead sales conversations using video technology. There are also many people who feel anxious about having some of the difficult conversations that could arise out of the impact of Covid-19.”

She said the uncertainty could leave companies at risk as they return. “All this can damage the confidence of staff and affect sales performance, which is going to be key in the coming months.” 

Her company has been helping companies gear up for the return from furlough by developing an online training course for sales teams to help them adapt to this new landscape.

Diane added, “We want our clients to ‘Start Back Strong’ and that means helping equip salespeople who have been on furlough for so many weeks.”

The programme comprises three easy to digest ten minute videos and a workbook that cover the differences between online and face to face conversations and how to engage with customers; practical tips and resources to get staff comfortable using technology and advice on how to lead and manage online sales conversations.

Intelligent Dialogue developed the programme after being asked for help by a long-standing client who wanted to help ease the way back into work for its sales teams. “I realised that many companies are facing the same issues and so with our clients agreement we have made broadened the programme to make it relevant to a wider audience and made it available through our website,” said Diane. 

“We have deliberately made it affordable at £49 plus VAT per staff member. We are already getting a great deal of interest from other companies.”

To find out more about the programme go to www.intelligentdialogue.online or call 0845 4500988.

Pictured above: Diane Banister, Managing Director, Intelligent Dialogue