A salesperson commented that he had not had a face-to-face meeting since 2020, even though he has asked for a face-to-face meeting. He suggests that buyers don’t “want the buddy act,” something that might suggest busy people no longer want a lot of rapport building before starting a meeting.
Another sales rep believes her clients love their virtual meetings, betting that it's even less stressful for her clients. If you will lie to yourself, make that lie one that empowers you instead of disempowers you. Some of us never stopped meeting with our clients.
There are a lot of reasons a person would not want you to meet face-to-face, and an equal number of lies one may tell themselves.
1. No Value Delivered
Once buyers and decision-makers experience an approach that creates no value, they become reticent to give the salesperson their time. Think about this as your obligation to create value for them inside the sales conversation. In The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales, you will find the Trading Value Rule. This rule requires you to promise and deliver the value you promised.
You are free to believe that your clients don’t want to meet face-to-face. This is like discovering a person unknown to you walking out your true love’s front door as you pull into their driveway. That person may have not kept their promise, and I can promise your competitors are showing up in person.
2. Wasted Time
This reason is close to the lack of value. Busy people are allergic to wasting time. From early rapport building to not being prepared for the meeting and overstaying your welcome, once you are a time waster the less likely your contact will give you more time.
You may lie to yourself that the client prefers a virtual meeting because they like it better, but maybe they are ensuring they can end the meeting and reclaim the unused time. If you used the time well, you’d easily acquire a face-to-face meeting.
3. You Lack Confidence
Asking a client for a face-to-face meeting only to have your client downgrade the meeting to virtual, and know for sure, this is a downgrade. You may think this is not you, but it’s easy for leaders to say no to a sales rep that doesn’t believe in themselves. You may lack the confidence to believe you belong in the room when your client is making a buying decision.
Maybe you lack the business acumen, the authority, or the expertise you need to be One-Up, the idea that you are supposed to be helping your client improve their business. You can find more about the concept of being One-Up in Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative.
4. You Are Conflict Averse
You can tell yourself a story about buyers not meeting with salespeople because they prefer not to meet face-to-face anymore. As a salesperson, you are responsible for providing your clients with counsel, advice, and recommendations. If you fear upsetting your client by asking for a face-to-face meeting, it suggests you are conflict averse.
What you risk here is nothing less than failing your client and having a competitor ask again and secure the same meeting you might have booked, had you asked again and explained how important your client is to you.
5. Your Buyer No Longer Believes They Need You
Many buyers suggest that they no longer need to meet with a salesperson. These same buyers suggest they are buying without speaking to a salesperson. If a client believes they can buy without your help, it indicates they have given up on salespeople who use a legacy approach instead of a modern sales approach.
Assuming you can reverse the reasons someone would say to no to a face-to-face meeting, you could command a face-to-face meeting with a decision maker. Even if you cannot meet in person, other salespeople can meet in real life.
An Iron Law of Sales
Anything you refuse to do will find your competitors doing in your stead. If you don’t visit them where they live and work, someone else will. If you don’t believe the client is important enough to ask for a meeting in person, a salesperson wants nothing more than to win the client’s business.
Were you to walk into your client’s facility and peruse the sign-in sheets, you will see a long list of people visiting someone inside. Some of those people having meetings are salespeople. The salespeople having these meetings will:
- Create greater value for the client.
- Improve their ability to build a relationship.
- Acquire more information and better understand the client's business and their needs.
- Meet other people who are part of the buying committee or task force.
- Improve their chances of winning the client's business.
- Shows they care enough to show up.
The Lies Salespeople Tell Themselves About Clients Not Wanting to Meet in Person
Those who lie to themselves about why their clients refuse a face-to-face meeting is that their clients prefer virtual are harming their sales results by practicing a transactional medium over a richer and more effective medium. These salespeople may also harm their clients by not giving the attention and the sales experience that buyers need from salespeople.
There is no reason to practice selling as if there is still a pandemic. If there is a pandemic now, it is an infection that causes them to believe no one is meeting in real life, even though others had meetings throughout the pandemic. Even if you don’t believe it, you have plenty of competitors that have been meeting with their clients. Some have your clients on their target lists. If you are not willing to meet in person, you opened the door for your competitor.