Ling Design, Great British Card Company (GBCC) and Penny Kennedy has launched an ‘out of hours’ virtual sales call service for the companies’ retail customers, which accommodates social distancing restrictions.
Following a soft launch this week, the new ‘8am-8pm Virtual Sales Calls’ service launches to all the brands’ customers on Monday (22 June). Operating via Skype or Zoom, retailers will be able to book an appointment with a member of the companies’ salesteam and enjoy a virtual meeting, anytime between 8 o’clock in the morning and 8 o’clock in the evening, during which products can be shown ‘face to face’, discussions can take place in real time and orders placed.
As David Byk, ceo of the group of companies explained to PG Buzz: “We have listened to what our customers are telling us and seen the hard work it has taken for them not only to re-open up but also to operate safely with fewer people in store as a result of social distancing. We knew that the traditional way of calling on a customer needed to change, at least for the time being.”
Having stayed operational throughout lockdown, as David points out “we have all got used to remote working and so felt that we can now use that experience in changing the way we operate.”
While many retailers want to order via the company website some of the time customers still do want to see a salesperson, but not necessarily in the traditional way and thus the ‘out of hours’ service was born, its launch coinciding with the unveiling of a raft of new ranges and promotions as part of the group’s ‘back to business’ thrust. (https://www.pgbuzz.net/ling-and-gbccs-mega-back-to-work-thrust-including-card-partnership-with-nhs-charities-together/)
As part of the run-up to a full launch, Kim Lewis, card buyer for the Longacres Garden Centres trialled the new service and placed an order. “It worked really well and I would definitely use it again,” Kim commented.
The ‘8 till 8’ service works by retailers making a request for a call, which can be done via the websites (www.greatbritishcards.co.uk/virtual-sales-call or www.lingdesign.co.uk/virtual-sales-call), by telephone or requesting a form. They will then be contacted via Skype or Zoom at the appointed time by one of the sales people (currently there are six members of the Ling/GBCC/Penny Kennedy salesforce working) who will virtually show the new ranges and presenters, discuss trends and best sellers, make recommendations and share their screen so that an order can be processed.
As Michael McGunnigle, national accounts manager of GBCC and the Waterwells brokerage business commented: “Right now the needs of the market are moving so quickly. We have brought salespeople back from furlough so we can physically visit retailers, but we can also now do this ‘virtually’ at a time to suit them. We can do this when they are at work and can be in front of their card racks or at home having a cup of tea or enjoying something stronger!”.
As well as the group’s Waterwells brokerage service (which offers designs from 25 other publishers’ designs as well as those) and the GBCC planned display service, a planned display service is now being offered by Ling Design.
As James Gunn, national sales manager of Ling Design commented:“We are delighted to be working with retailers across a number of initiatives which seem entirely in step with the fast-evolving needs of our customers. We are really hopeful for the future as have seen our sales slowly growing since garden centres and the wrongly named ‘non-essential’ retailers have reopened.”