In my last blog, I told of the changes to how sales and marketing have been perceived over the last three decades. This showed how ‘Sales & Marketing’ had changed to ‘Marketing’ only. But needs to be ‘Marketing & Sales’. If that makes no sense read the blog again!
Another aspect that has changed significantly pre-covid times is the method of communication between customers and prospects.
In my training I demonstrate how face to face is by far the most effective way to communicate with anyone. Zoom, telephone, personal letter and email are all effective to a point, but face to face allows a higher level of understanding and appreciation of what the other person is saying and meaning.
Slowly, this approach has been evolving and has now changed, due to two significant drivers:
- As work pressure mounts, the time available for personal meetings has been squeezed to the point where there is little time available in a working day to include them, particularly now that we have Zoom or Teams available to us.
- Then came Covid. For personal health and safety, all face-to-face meetings were discouraged or banned. It was too high a risk to meet people face to face. In order to continue business effectively, video conference calls became the norm.
Covid has now receded to a level sufficient for us to attempt to ‘normality’. However, having experienced how effective video calls can be, and still being wary of meeting people face-to-face, some are declining to meet in-person. Furthering the likelihood Sales Visits will not be seeing a part in our current ‘normalcy’.
I have confirmed this with the more mature sales training delegates on the courses I have given recently. Their experience of 20 to 30 years ago is the same as mine, and they confirmed it has become very difficult to arrange customer visits for these reasons. What do we do?
A new strategy…
In the last 6 months I have begun to recommend a new strategy whereby a ‘Communication Plan’ is agreed between the two parties involved. This can involve an effective mix of methods and timings that are the most convenient for the buyer and allows the salesperson to complete the sales process as thoroughly and successfully as possible. So if you feel in-person Sales Visits are key to your sales process, let the other party know, plan for it!
As an example of the new process:
- Connect on LinkedIn
- Send a personal email or LinkedIn message to agree to a call
- Make a phone call to complete introductions and clarify their need
- If there is a sufficient interest, at this point the ‘Communication Plan’ can be introduced and agreed. This can involve a face-to-face first visit, then an agreed mix of phone calls, emails and video calls.
- Complete the sales process and win the deal. Frequency of contact needs to be agreed as well.
This is a simplified way to illustrate the idea. Each case will be different according to needs. You may have your own way of working through the sales process but be flexible. If they are not comfortable being asked every time for a personal meeting, mutually pre-agree terms in a Communication Plan.
If you’re interested in Sales or Technical Sales training for yourself or a team, please get touch – 07941 041 364