As America takes its first tentative steps toward a restoration of normal activities, the definition of what “normal” represents remains a moving target.
This is particularly true for businesses, who, in addition to trying to understand what buyers’ appetites are going to be for their products and services, must also define what is an acceptable way to simply conduct business.
For sales representatives dependent upon calling upon these businesses, emerging from our virtual universe into the 3D world is fraught with rules and risks that simply didn’t exist three months ago.
Intuition, however, would tell us that most companies are not looking for the unannounced “drive-by” with a dozen Krispy Kremes; and the unplanned drop-in likely will be seen not just a breach of protocol, but disrespectful to companies who wish to mitigate any risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Expectations of buyers, whether we like it or not, have changed – and any future sales calls will need to be both planned – and purposeful. Your calls, therefore, should be more substantive in nature and deliver true value to customer.
So how can sales teams maximize the value of a sales visit – for both buyer and seller — in these early days of reopening? Here are a few tips and considerations to prospecting with purpose:
Risk Versus Reward: Though it may be tempting to resume face-to-face activity, the cost, right now, could outweigh the benefits. One sales executive related to us that their company is setting travel rules for sales calls, including parameters for driving distance and overnight stays. And once you arrive on-site, you may encounter safety protocols, restricted access to your buyer’s facility, and limits on the number of stakeholders who can meet together. With these factors in mind, it’s never been more important to qualify and prioritize the right opportunities for face-to-face meetings, and to plan accordingly. Tire-kicking is best conducted virtually.
Have Something to Say: The old “buddy seller” approach of “just checking in” to see how it’s going is destined to fail. The universal nature of the pandemic’s impacts has pretty much rendered this a rhetorical question. Being prepared for ANY sales meeting today should involve a healthy bit of pre-call planning, a customer-focused agenda, and a desire to present true solutions that deliver value to the investment of time during the interaction.
Trusted Advisor – Now, More than Ever: Delivering that enhanced value can go beyond simply what your company is offering. Likely, through business conversations with other clients in your market, you have gathered unique insights as to how demand has changed during the pandemic. Offer to deliver a market-driven needs assessment that draws from real-world, current day experience.
Know the Rules: If you are indeed invited to your buyers’ site, make sure you are completely clear on their requirements for visitors. Handshakes, for sure, will be out. Social distancing will be mandatory. But temperature checks, masks, gloves, and any other protective equipment may well be required. Ask all of these questions up front – don’t leave anything to chance – and be fully prepared.