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Discover why declaring traditional sales tactics dead might be premature in the evolving landscape of post-pandemic business connections.

Whenever you hear someone declaring that a particular thing is dead, you can be certain of two things. First, there is likely a survey from a large consulting group with clients who want the survey to confirm what they wish to be true. Second, whatever is supposedly dead is very much alive and kicking.

A few years ago, surveys were adamant that cold outreach was dead, a notion that prompted my friends and me to start the OutBound Conference. Not much later, more companies began prioritizing cold outreach. Today, every prospect is pursued by dozens of salespeople via phone and email.

So, when McKinsey suggests that buyers prefer virtual sales meetings over face-to-face meetings, you can be quite sure we'll see an increase in face-to-face meetings. It's important to remember that the only reason we have virtual meetings is due to a pandemic. Before the virus, no buyers or decision-makers were clamoring for virtual sales meetings. After the pandemic, these same decision-makers are burned out on virtual meetings, be it Zoom, Teams, or Google Meet.

There are a number of observations to make about technology companies. First, they will do everything possible to prevent you from talking to a person, whether it’s offering a chatbot, directing you to a website where you might find an answer, or emailing you directions that probably won’t help you make something work. Second, they strive to reduce the cost of dealing with their clients or customers.

Here is an iron law of sales, one that you break at your peril: Anything you don't want to do for your client will be done by one of your competitors instead. This includes the face-to-face meetings they prefer.

The Importance of Personal Sales Meetings in the Digital Age

Imagine two companies pursuing the same client. The first salesperson decides they don't want to travel to see the client. They wonder why they should have to drive across the city or fly to another city when they can sit at home and have what they believe to be the same meeting without the effort of travel. No one complained about their virtual meetings, and in the past they’ve gone well. This salesperson believes they did what was necessary to win the client’s business.

The second salesperson believes the client is worth the time and effort to travel to the client’s office. This salesperson drives across the city or flies to New York, or wherever the contacts are located, to meet face-to-face. They spend an hour with the client, before being introduced to several members of the team who will decide who to hire to improve their results. The main client asks the salesperson to tour their facility, allowing them to learn how the company operates by talking to the people doing the work.

Another iron law of relationships is presence. The first salesperson had no real presence, projecting that the client is not important enough for them to meet in person. This salesperson is reducing their chances of winning the client’s business, not because of the virtual meeting per se, but because their competitor was more than willing to meet the client face-to-face.

How In-Person Meetings Offer a Competitive Edge

Our first salesperson is unaware that their competitor spent two and a half hours with no fewer than six people who will decide who to hire. As the team begins their deliberations, someone remarks that the second salesperson seems to understand the company better than the first salesperson, who didn't make the effort to meet the team in person.

The first salesperson views this merely as a transaction, in love with their solution, failing to recognize that value creation is about helping the client make the right decision for their business. The second salesperson knows that winning the relationship is crucial to winning the client’s business. They see this as more than a transaction.

Caring is a superpower. When one salesperson is transactional and another sees it as something more, the person who takes the effort to show up, provide a better experience, and prove they are interested in helping the client will likely ensure they can execute a solution and achieve the results needed.

Championing the Return to Face-to-Face Sales Strategies

No matter what you hear or read about buyers and decision-makers, being human and sitting down with your prospective clients to learn what you need to know to help them solve their problems is never a mistake.

If you seek an advantage in competing for a client’s business, show up for a face-to-face meeting. At the end of 2020, a number of clients mentioned they would use their travel budget to hire more SDRs, as they were selling without any trouble.

I cautioned that not sending a salesperson to New York would cause them to lose to a New York company that would take the time to walk through their servers, increasing their chances of winning the client’s project. The average price was around 10 million dollars.

Leaving this article, you should consider returning to face-to-face meetings as a way to create a competitive advantage over competitors who don't care enough to travel to see the client. As Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

Do good work and show up.


Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 29, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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