As a sales leader, you understand better than most the power of face to face interaction. You’ve likely built your selling career on face-to-face sales pitches and the always productive dinner meeting. You’ve set your team’s strategy for the year and motivated your sales organization through annual sales acceleration summits.
A study by Oxford Economics found that of the 500 executives surveyed, 63% perceive virtual meetings as less effective with current customers, and 85% view virtual meetings as less effective with prospects. The world has changed drastically since this study was conducted, but these longstanding perceptions will take years to reverse themselves, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
Face-to-face interactions may never again happen as often as they once did, which means your teams need to be prepared to capitalize on these increasingly rare opportunities. Selling in this new environment will require a blended approach to virtual selling and limited face-to-face interaction.
As far as taking advantage of your limited face-to-face interactions, here are 4 tips for how your teams can do just that:
1. Find Common Ground
This is an ancient tenant of effective face to face selling, but now you will no longer have the luxury of nurturing relationships over the course of several interactions. You will have one chance to make a lasting face-to-face impression. If you have a meeting scheduled with a customer or prospect, do your research ahead of time. Collect your own thoughts on what your passions, hobbies, and personal fun facts are and be prepared to share candidly. You want to use this one chance to connect with a person in a way that makes them trust you with their business.
It sounds cheesy, but a world-renown sales trainer once shared the concept of the 5 Fs with me. The 5 Fs (Family, Friends, Food, Fellowship, and Fun) are the categories you should focus on when finding common ground with a customer or prospect. Prepare to share a little bit about yourself for each of the 5 Fs and see what common ground you can find with your customer or prospect.
2. Think Local
Designing your GTM organization to maximize effectiveness is one of the top strategic responsibilities of any sales leader. As B2B buyer preferences have become more specialized and complex, geography has probably taken a back seat to other org design considerations such as industry and product expertise. As the pandemic continues to impact mobility negatively, now is the time to bring geography back into the fold as a consideration as you make org design and hiring decisions.
It may no longer be practical to send the whole team to important customer interaction, but having one or two local resources attend a meeting while the others are virtual can supercharge the effectiveness of the interaction.
3. Know Their Type (and Your Own)
If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you have heard me preach about how SBI is tech agnostic. We have seen organizations across all industries and market segments effectively utilize all types of CRMs, marketing automation tools, gamification systems, and forecasting solutions. However, there is one tool that I don’t mind providing a shameless plug for. Crystal analyzes your customer’s and prospect’s LinkedIn profile and provides you with a (scarily accurate) analysis of their personality type. It then provides detailed guidance on what to emphasize in the conversation, what motivates the individual, and, generally, how to interact with them in a way that best resonates with their personality type.
In this time of limited face-to-face interaction, you don’t have the luxury of reading the room or deeply understanding the individual you are interacting with. Using a tool like Crystal makes it a little bit easier to know who you are dealing with and helps you set your sales strategy accordingly.
4. Take Your Time
At first glance, it may seem like everyone has more distractions when working from home. However, if you take into consideration the additional free time from not traveling, commuting, or attending events, you will realize that many of your buyers actually have more time to be singularly focused on the interactions you have with them.
Take advantage of this fact by turning a would-be 60-minute sales pitch into a 90-minute workshop. Take the time to understand their specific pain points and spend your efforts brainstorming on their challenges and how your organization may be able to help them. If you can prove your worth as a trusted advisor, they will always be willing to spend more time with you, which increases the likelihood of ultimately closing a deal.
These are just four of the top tips that your sales teams should follow, but this is by no means exhaustive.
The ongoing pandemic has severely altered your team’s ability to take advantage of the power of the face-to-face meeting, but every organization must deal with this same bump in the road.
Challenge your teams to think of new strategies that they can deploy that balances predominantly virtual selling with limited face to face selling so that they can maximize their effectiveness in this new normal.