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 have done a wonderful job in the absence of business travel for us to be able to interact, but nothing substitutes in my mind for the face-to-face interaction, 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 last 12 months. While it is true that 96% of sales organizations have changed their go-to-market strategy, most would be foolish to decree that face-to-face selling was dead. Going forward it would be smart for businesses to employ a strategy that allows customers and salespeople to find what that right balance is. Certainly, CFOs of large corporate salesforces are loving the reduced selling expenses associated with reduced travel. It will be interesting to see whether these savings fall right to the corporate bottom line or are they re-invested in some form back into the selling operation for the benefit of the salesforce. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
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 our next steps to a balance?
Going forward I believe that salespeople will have to adopt a new 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 will now need 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 will be a differentiator for the diverse population we serve. And in the end, benefits the brands and products we sell.
For those that prefer the face-to-face selling environment, you will get the opportunity to walk your customer's hallways reading what you see, to use in your sales process. You will get the opportunity to read the body language your client or prospect is giving off as they sit across the room. You will get the opportunity to take that client or prospect to lunch so you can engage in rapport building and where you can get to know your client or prospect on a more personal level. On the occasions that your customer chooses an alternative way of interaction, the good news is we will 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 after a rather long layoff. And where our customers choose, we need to be equally prepared for the Virtual selling environment, its differences, and its advantages. I am delighted last week I got back to a comfortable interaction with a client with their chosen method of meeting. All of the familiar tools I used to use were still there along with airports, airplanes, shuttles, rental cars, hotels, and restaurants.
I have to tell you I was tired after my trip, but it felt good to be 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 $200 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 the 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 Guide2Interchange@gmail.com