1810 Company and Schock take all but two reps off the road

Gareth Williams, chairman of 1810 Company and Schock, has unveiled a new programme which sees all but two of its on-the-road sales reps replaced with a remote sales team, which he believes is a more effective strategy.

This follows kbbreview’s reporting at the kbb show about how communication with sales reps has changed in recent years. A number of suppliers admitted it has been a challenge to get retailer communication right in a post-Covid market, but that a mix of in-person and digital communication is likely going to be the norm in future.

According to Williams, 1810 Company/Schock originally had roles for nine area sales managers around the UK, in addition to an internal sales development team (ISDT). Williams says that the idea for the new remote sales strategy came when the company found the two best-performing areas were the ones being managed fully by the ISDT.

Following this, 1810 Company/Schock has decided that it can best support retailers by having most of its sales team functions performed by the ISD team, with two area sales managers staying on to manage the east and west of the country.

Williams says that the strategy overhaul will help retailers by significantly increasing the number of showrooms that can be communicated with. He explained: “An area sales manager might make four or five visits to retailers in a day, and then they need admin time, so when you average it out, they’re only having maybe 15 to 20 calls a week. Whereas our ISD team will do about 25 calls a day. It’s much more practical, and because they’ve got a checklist of what to go through, we can make sure they’re getting the right message across.”

To help facilitate the new programme, Williams said that the company is also making new training and education resources to help retailers. “We’re trying to make it interactive,” he said, “retailers can go online to see product demonstrations instead of having to be shown in person. We’re going to be sending products out on a no-cost basis and arranging for products to be picked back up again in the same way.

“Going forward, retailers are going to be getting a call from someone in the ISDT to  discuss what they need and we’ll then send them those resources whilst they’re on the phone. That way, retailers can say, ‘I’m a bit busy at the minute, I’ll have a look later’, rather than an area sales manager having to take up time in a showroom.”

Williams said that 1810 Company/Schock plans to increase its current ISD team size from three people up to 10, in order to support the new strategy, with each area of the country having a dedicated ISDT member to support it. In addition, the remaining area sales managers will still visit higher-spending retail clients, with lower spenders being looked after by the ISD team.

According to Williams, the motivation for the new sales model is to offer better service to its retailers. Williams said: “We spoke to a lot of retailers around the country who said their main priorities are to be kept informed, they wanted to know what’s new, and they wanted to be able to talk to someone if they had a problem. They also said that half the time when they see an area rep pull up, it just cuts into their time because they’re too busy.

“Our retailers say they don’t want to be bombarded with emails – well, neither do we. There’s got to be a balance of giving the retailer what they want.”

Williams said that he was motivated to discuss the new strategy in light of kbbreview’s recent reporting on the varying ways suppliers are looking to manage sales reps after Covid. He explained: “I understand there’s a lot of talk about the issue because it’s a sensitive topic. We want to be clear that our retailers aren’t going to get less of a service – they’re actually going to get more.

“I’d be interested to speak to some of the companies with full in-person sales teams and ask them: ‘are you entirely happy with all of them?’. Because there’s always at least one or two who are a bit of a problem, and that’s the reality of it. That’s not the only way, but you’ve got to have a strong alternative, and that’s what we’re convinced we’ve found here.”

Have you heard the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast looking at whether there is still a role for the rep on the road? Listen now using the player below or go straight to it Apple PodcastsSpotify or YouTube.

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