B2B distributors: how to protect against the coronavirus and COVID-19

Posted in B2B sales & distribution.

How can B2B distributors protect their field sales reps, office staff and warehouse staff against the coronavirus and COVID-19? The virus and disease present some challenging but surmountable problems for B2B businesses. The main (visible) symptoms that are reported are a high fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear as soon as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. A majority of people do not experience any symptoms at all but can still spread the disease. Therefore the key task is to protect your staff from any and all people that they come into contact with during the course of their workday.

Protecting all staff

Some measures should cover all staff … office staff, warehouse staff and field sales reps.

  • Screen visitors entering your premises. Anyone entering the premises should be aware of the social distancing rules being followed on the premises.
  • Set up your work areas so that staff can practice social distancing.
  • Encourage the wearing of masks.
  • Encourage regular hand-washing.
  • Provide disinfectant in multiple locations all over the premises and ensure that staff members regularly clean all surfaces .
  • Provide hand sanitisers for general use. All sanitisers should be alcohol-based sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Encourage staff to stay home if they feel ill.
  • Allow non-essential staff to work from home. Do your finance staff and marketing staff really need to be in the office? If they can be just as productive working from home, it might be a good idea to let them work remotely.
  • Communicate regularly with staff. Share with them the latest advice and guidance from your local health authorities.
  • Share any updates to your policies relating to sick leave, work-from-home, business travel, safety precautions .
  • Share updates on the business performance. Staff might be anxious about how well the business is performing and whether or not their jobs are at risk.

Protect field sales reps

Reps are out in the field meeting customers all day. This means they are at a higher risk of exposure to the virus. These extra measures over and above the ones listed previously will help reduce the risk of infection for your sales reps.

  • If sales reps are using a shared company vehicle ensure that the vehicle is cleaned and disinfected regularly, especially frequently touched surfaces like the steering wheel and door handles.
  • Reps should wear a face covering when entering customer premises and should maintain a distance of at least 2m (6 feet) from customer contacts.
  • Provide disposable gloves so that reps can wear them when handing over documents or goods to customers. Used gloves should be discarded after each visit.
  • Reps should avoid sharing pens, scanners, tablets or other tools with customers. Maybe for now those electronic signatures are no longer necessary.