The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has caused delays in businesses’ hopes to put the pandemic behind them, but the idea of face-to-face sales calls and meetings are still being entertained. In some instances, groups of people are even getting together again at a location or destination.
Will things get back to what was once called normal?
That remains uncertain, but we do know that “normal” will never be the same. It will be different in a number of ways. As the advent of face-to-face interactions are considered, it should be reflected, can one leverage this opportunity as things transition from what they were before to what they will be?
Take Advantage of the New Normal
In an informal survey of managers and sales professionals, the shift is occurring from virtual sales calls and meetings back to face-to-face. Percentages are ranging from 90% virtual, 10% live to a slowly evolving 70% virtual and 30% live. In some cases, the numbers are 60% virtual and 40% live. The shift is occurring, but the predominance of interactions in the short term will remain virtual. With the shift occurring, can an advantage be gained? Can your salespeople dictate the balance? Can they influence the number of face-to-face calls versus virtual?
Managing the appointment process and the opening of conversations are more important than ever. As a matter of fact, they are now essential. This is because a growing number of clients, customers or individuals are receptive to getting back to in-person meetings. According to a recent study in the pharmaceutical industry, 44% of health care professionals said face-to-face sales visits are their preferred option as long as it is beneficial, safe and permitted. If these three criteria are available, it is now recommended that reps dictate the venue of the call that best suits their skill set. Keep in mind your customers could still choose virtual, even if this is not a rep’s preference or strength. Recently, it was determined that 24% of HCPs would still select virtual meetings once things open up. That suggests there could be at least 32% of the customer population that can be influenced one way or the other. This could be the target group that can provide the most growth.
Strike the Balance
Some reps embraced virtual selling; others are still more comfortable with in-person interaction. Reps should aim to work toward their strength or at least seek a combination of virtual and face-to-face meetings. Determine the balance that works for both parties. The ask would indicate a series of conversations over the upcoming weeks or months that will review the topics that are most relevant to the prospect or buying team a rep is meeting with.
Simply stating the desire to have a series of face-to-face interactions intermingled with virtual conversations could give your reps an advantage. Strategically, thought needs to occur as to how this choreography plays out. Is it two face-to-face meetings followed by a virtual conversation? What is the timing? What is the duration? What is the call to action at the end of each interaction? These elements should be determined as part of a pregame plan. These elements need to be stated at the beginning of each conversation to seek buy-in and understanding of the path being taken. It may make sense to state these desires while scheduling the first appointment, alluding to the prospect that subsequent meetings make sense.
As the business world opens up, help your reps burst through the doors on their terms. Aim to have them set the ground rules that best suit the outcomes you are looking to achieve. Place the balance in your favor. Gaining acceptance by some of your customers to this request will provide an advantage over your competitors.