An early look at the return to the office for B2B sales reps
- Lorien Green
- 3 Min Read
By Lorien Green, Market Insights Manager
While nobody knows what a full return to office life will look like or when that will happen, some employees are already back in the office – and some never left. We recently spoke with Dennis, a regional sales manager of cybersecurity solutions from Georgia, and Julie, a pharmaceutical sales specialist from Alabama, to see what “the new normal” looks like for them. Both work remotely, but their offices recently reopened.
Sales execs like Dennis and Julie still order lunch for their prospects, and then dial into a remote video call to present. For virtual meetings, individually packaged meals and all-inclusive options are more important than ever.
What’s different during COVID?
B2B sales professionals often operate from home offices, so their work location may not have changed during COVID. Situations at the offices they typically call on have changed, though.
“I’ve been in sales for 20 years and probably the last three jobs that I’ve had, we didn’t have a significant office presence for the company.” Dennis explains. “So, all of us work from remote home offices, but I would say more often than not you’re going to find us onsite at one of our customers’ locations or onsite at one of our partners’ locations.”
In many cases that became impossible when shelter in place rules went into effect earlier this year. And now, even as employees begin to trickle back in, companies may not allow visitors to enter the building. In those cases, lunch can often still be sent to the office, and the rep hosts a video call to present virtually.
“A lot of my customers actually have policies at this point where, even if people are starting to return to the office, vendors and organizations outside of their own are restricted from coming in. I foresee that’s going to continue for some time, at least until there are more readily accessible tests, antibody tests, vaccines, and so forth.” says Dennis.
Julie is seeing similar things. “Hopefully, we’ll be back live and in person and I think then, lunches are going to be even more critical, because they aren’t going to want us meandering in the halls. We’re all going to have masks on and gloves on, and so instead of us chatting with the office staff and waiting for the doctor to come out of an exam room, my bet is that this is gonna be, hey, talk to the doctor, sign for samples, and get outta here. So unless we have lunch, we’re going to have really limited engagements with the doctors.”
Boxed lunches and other individually packaged meals
In the past months, demand for individually packaged food has increased dramatically on ezCater. Over 58% of our orders now contain individually packaged food, and we expect this demand to continue or increase. We’ve asked our restaurant partners to keep adding individually packaged options to their menus..
“Once we get to the point where I’m meeting with people face to face and going onsite to host lunch and learns again, we’ll probably move more towards an individually wrapped and prepared meal as opposed to a buffet where everybody’s sort of congregating over the food.” says Dennis.
For virtual meetings like the ones these sales reps are dealing with now, all-inclusive meals are important. “What I look for now is caterers who offer the whole package; the entree, salad, tea, dessert, you know, all with one click.” says Julie. “Because that way, the offices don’t call me as I pull into the parking lot, or now, virtually, where I can’t do anything about it, and say, ‘You didn’t send anything for us to drink!’”
Dennis remains optimistic. “I think at the end of the day, what’s most important is to have a strategy and it’s likely going to be a phased approach from essential to non-essential to hopefully at some point we can get back to some level of normalcy, what we were used to before this whole thing happened.”
Returning to the office in a pandemic is about making people feel confident and safe. Learn how with the Handbook for a COVID-Smart Return to Work, featuring content from ezCater, CBRE, Google, Marsh & McLennan Agency, Quest Diagnostics, and Staples.