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On the Road Again.

For me, it had been more than a year in the making. It did not take me long to get back that feeling of adventure, taking an airplane once again to go work with a customer. Airports, airplanes, shuttles, and hotels brought me back to a familiar place that, before COVID-19, was second nature. My client had asked if I was able to visit with them to do my sales training in person. I think it was cathartic for all involved, getting to interact with one another in a safe environment. Zoom and Teams did a wonderful job in the absence of business travel for us to be able to interact, but nothing substitutes, in my mind, the face-to-face interaction that a live sales training or sales call can deliver.


I am often asked if I think face-to-face selling will go away as a result of the pivot we made to virtual interactions during COVID-19. While it is true that 96% of sales organizations had changed their go-to-market strategy, most would be foolish to decree that face-to-face selling was dead. It is smart for businesses to employ a strategy that allows customers and salespeople to find that right balance. Certainly, CFOs of large corporate salesforces were loving the reduced selling expenses associated with reduced travel. It is interesting to see whether the savings fell right to the corporate bottom line or were re-invested in some form back into the selling operation for the benefit of the salesforce?

Virtual selling, on the other side, is here to stay. In the past few weeks, I have been in South Africa, Lebanon, Israel, France, Poland, Italy, Hungary, Canada, and the Czech Republic without ever leaving my home office. The thoughts of traveling to those countries, glamorous and all as it might seem, would have been exhausting and expensive for all the parties involved. So, what are the steps to a balance? I believe that salespeople need to adopt a set of questions for their clients and prospects to discover how they want to conduct business. In addition to the discovery we do as part of our sales process, a further layer needs to be added to ensure our clients and prospects are comfortable with our interaction. Their direction will be our guide, and the depth of our meeting options will be key. For sure, there will be employers who prefer online interaction, the cost choice for them is obvious. Giving our customers options on how we interact with them is a differentiator for the diverse population we serve. And in the end, benefits the brands and products we sell.

For those who prefer the face-to-face selling environment, you get the opportunity to walk your customers’ hallways reading what you see to use in your sales process. You read the body language your client or prospect is giving off as they sit across the room. You get the opportunity to take that client or prospect to lunch to engage in rapport building and get to know your client or prospect on a more personal level. On the occasion that your customer chooses an alternative way of interaction, the good news is, we learn to adapt. Virtual selling is different from face-to-face selling. It is not a matter of just turning on a camera and believing everything else is the same; it clearly is not.

In the end, we need to be prepared as sales professionals for wherever our sales process takes us. We need to make sure our in-person, face-to-face selling skills are honed and ready for our sales interactions. And we need to be equally prepared for the virtual selling environment, its differences, and its advantages. I am delighted that all of the familiar tools I used for in-person meetings were still there when travel was opened back up, along with airports, airplanes, shuttles, rental cars, hotels, and restaurants. And I have to tell you, I enjoy being back on the road again……

Roger McNamara Bio:

Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple industries and across the globe that include Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR’s, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales, B2B and Wholesale. Over that time, he has sold more than $300 Billion worth of Card processing and became an expert in Bankcard Interchange and Discount Rates, how they are calculated and what merchants pay to accept Credit, and how this is dramatically different from what they believe they pay. He is an expert in Merchant Statement analysis and payment processing and the rules and regulations associated with payments and associations. Roger has also developed the insight for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces, in general, to be able to better position their products and gain share, particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at roger@guide2interchange.com.


 

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