Covid-19 side effect: Agribusiness creates new ways to maintain client contacts
|How the 'new normal' affects present & future Agribusiness client contacts|
|November 19, 2020|
Globalization processes have created accelerated and deepening ties in all its aspects – economic, social and cultural. As a result of technological developments in transportation and communication and political and economic developments, a global process of trade between countries and multi-national corporations has taken shape.
Prof. Anthony Giddens coined the term ‘Globalization’, defining it thus: a code name for a varied series of processes that have made the world an instantaneous, independent border-free place.
Recent months have given the impression of an apparent end to the globalization era, as in a relatively short time Covid-19 has become a pandemic, putting the entire world on hold, travel has been cut short, borders closed, exhibitions were initially postponed and later became virtual; thus marketing and export reps found themselves in a new reality, that obligated them to find creative solutions to preserve their contacts with customers, producers and distributors worldwide. We turned to representatives of four leading companies in various sectors, and posed two identical questions to each of them. The respondents were: Eyal Inbar-Hishtil, Gottfried Pessl-Pessl Instruments GmbH, Maoz Aviv-Empower Africa, Chaim Schwartz-TEFEN Flow and Dosing Technologies. We present their responses in this article.
Eyal Inbar, Export Sales Manager at Hishtil
In this year’s first Lockdown in March, we arrived with merchandise prepared and many opportunities, but the global Lockdown put some of them on hold, since customers in Europe were also in Lockdown.
Earlier this year, as in previous years, we managed to participate in two important Shows (IPM & Fruit Logistica),.Then flights became unavailable, and we progressed to various other channels of communication: conversations, Zoom meetings, email and telephone. In parallel, we have created new communication channels, for example:
Some steps were part of a long-term work program, but Covid-19 has undoubtedly accelerated them. For example, in June we hire additional salespeople in Germany, and we're about to hire a new Sales Manager for Scandinavia.
Pre-planned professionalization processes proved their value in our new reality, e.g., as part of the hobby gardening market forecast, during the past year we introduced an array of robots for the production process, and as of today this enables us to provide the highest quality and meet the increased demand.
As for the current reality’s influence on future activity, Eyal says, “Reality teaches us that it’s possible to attend a Zoom meeting with a staff of several people, to be precise, make decisions and complete the meeting’s agenda. Our frequency of flights will undoubtedly decrease significantly, although we can’t completely forego personal meetings with the client, but it’s possible for the most part.
Gottfried Pessl, CEO at Pessl Instruments GmbH.
We are a global team with partners and clients around the world, so that working and maintaining relationships remotely was our reality well before the pandemic. Conferences, summits, trade shows, and other agricultural events, where we had the chance to meet everyone face-to-face, were cancelled and travel was restricted, so we had to look for ways to maintain personal contact between headquarters and the METOS network, as well as to remain available for our clients. In practice, this meant more video calls and phone meetings, but also less time spent on the road. This is where our network of local distributors once more proved to be a great asset. With their help, we are able to offer continuous support to our current clients. You can stop operations in a factory, but plants and animals don’t care if there is a pandemic going on -- you have to take care of them no matter what! We are glad our technology is there to help farmers do their job.
It’s hard to expect life will return to “normal” as we knew it before the pandemic, at least not immediately. We see that the COVID-19 situation has increased demand for remote monitoring systems, and we will continue to raise awareness about the use of this technology for better risk management, protection of the environment, labor optimization and food production.
Empower Africa is focused on creating connections, facilitating adequate communication, and maximizing collaboration between parties interested in doing business in Africa. Using our digital platform, the Empower Africa Business Network brings screened, approved, trusted organizations and individuals together, enabling them to engage directly, close deals and create synergy that accelerates growth in Africa’s private sector. We provide an online marketplace that you can only enter if you are a transparent and reputable business. I can say that when the pandemic started, we were already strategically prepared. Building the EA Business Network gave us the advantage of maintaining our relationships during the pandemic and developing an effective tool for driving business digitally.
Chaim Schwartz, Vice president sales & marketing, TEFEN Flow and Dosing Technologies
We create a working routine with clients using all means at our disposal, as reflected by bi-weekly meetings using Zoom/Team with each and every client, even if it’s a brief half-hour meeting. At the same time, we make phone calls more frequently than in the past, at least once a week, with the goal of maintaining “alertness”, and of remaining high up in the client’s hierarchy.
On the technical level, as well, we try to make information accessible to the client, to enable him to carry out annual servicing/simple repairs on his own.