A post on LinkedIn suggested that it is important to have a physical presence—specifically, a face-to-face meeting—with your prospective clients. Salespeople who read the post agreed, and a number suggested they were very excited to have real meetings, the kind where you are in the same room.
The marketers commenting on the post suggested that the idea of a face-to-face meeting is outdated and no longer necessary. It's an interesting perspective from people who don't spend time sitting across from their company's prospects each day. Marketers like the idea of having clients, but not if it requires individual attention. They are one-to-many, not one-to-one.
The post included a story about Jamie Dimon, Chase’s CEO, and how he discovered that Chase lost large accounts during the pandemic because they decided not to travel to see them. Those clients now belong to their competitors.
One More Way Sales Is Broken
One way Silicon Valley's ethos causes problems in the real world is that it espouses the idea that sales should be transactional, something done at arm's length or farther. They are the opposite of Elon Musk, who is a builder. In the real world, a lot of people want to start and run a business, and have little interest in flipping the company and starting a venture capital firm of their own.
The push to use technologies that are transactional—and feel transactional—has harmed sales organizations and salespeople.
The pandemic caused salespeople and their prospective clients to adopt new technologies, all of which were helpful during that time. Those who short human nature are often stunned by the idea that people will meet face-to-face instead of in a video conference. Nor will they believe the shopping malls are still busy—after all, there are three packages on each of your neighbor's porches (something that causes a little heartburn when you have no less than six on yours).
Refusing to Meet In Person
The problem with believing your preferences are going to match those of your prospective client is that your misconception can cause you to lose an opportunity you might have won, had you acted differently. The fact that you can communicate with your prospective client without having to travel doesn't mean it is always and forever the right decision. Nor does it mean it is the right thing to do even if your client prefers to do a video conference.
A competitor who believes they create an advantage by showing up is almost certain to be correct when you are unwilling to do what others have no trouble doing.
Refusing to Make a Cold Call
You might have a strong preference to use email as your primary tool for prospecting. It's much easier to spend hours drafting the perfect email, one you believe is going to wow your prospective clients and prove they should engage with you. It's heartbreaking to exert so much effort into a project only to have it be deleted at first sight.
Some of your competitors believe that a cold call is a more effective medium for asking for a meeting, and they bypass their prospective client's overrun, anxiety-inducing junk folder. Even though it is difficult to get a prospect on the phone, when you do, you have a better chance of booking a meeting.
Refusing to Create Value for Your Contact
The legacy approach to sales is one that most sales organizations teach and train their sales force, even though it proves to be repellent to decision makers.
It's easy to believe you are doing the right thing when your company requires you to sadistically punish a client with a long slide deck that repeats information that is on your website.
Being trained in this approach makes it so you don't want to have a different conversation—not even one that would create greater value for the client.
Your competitor has already ditched the slide deck and focused on helping the client by providing a world-class education on the nature of their challenge, making sense of their environment, and how best to pursue the outcomes that are important to both the decision makers and their company. You may not want to transform your approach, but that isn't going to lose to salespeople who have already done so.
Refusing to Be One-Up
Being One-Up means you have the knowledge and experience to create value in a way that makes you truly consultative, Refusing to be One-Up will harm you and your clients. To be One-Up, you have to believe your client is One-Down, meaning they are missing information they need to make a good decision and produce the best results possible.
If you fail to recognize your obligation, or you lack interest in positioning yourself as the right person to provide advice and counsel, you will leave an opening for your One-Up competitor.
Your One-Up competitor knows they are One-Up, and they are more than comfortable leading the client, updating their outdated assumptions, and providing them with a structure to make sense of the factors they should consider, including how to weigh them and how to succeed in their buyer's journey. If you are not One-Up, you are One-Down. Your competitor has no fear of competing against you or anyone else.
Don't Refuse What Your Client Needs
Refusing to provide what your client needs from you inside the sales conversation is an open invitation for someone who will provide a better experience. It's better to be comfortable doing what is uncomfortable than not changing your preferences. The longer it takes you to make changes, the longer it will be before you improve your results.
Your competitors will do what you refuse to do. Act accordingly.