B2B virtual selling has become so commonplace and necessary today that we often forget about the benefits of meeting with a buyer in-person in the flesh and blood. Remember the handshake? A nonverbal practice that starts to build interpersonal trust. Recall undivided attention — no pings, dings and glances at second screens?
This is not to say virtual selling does not have its place and purpose. The technology has allowed B2B selling organizations to remain adaptable in times of changing regulations and restrictions. In fact, you could argue virtual selling has given more access to the buying committee — especially the C-suite — than salespeople commanded pre-COVID. The tools have kept salespeople and buyers connected, while slashing buyers’ costs for travel. And, by now, sellers have become more sophisticated in selling and connecting to buyers through screens.
“Zoom fatigue.” Social isolation. Nostalgia for pre-2020 selling hustle and bustle out in the real world. People are ready to get together. We at Mereo still stand by the future of the hybrid model of selling — but there is evidence that in-person, face-to-face interactions between buyers and sellers and between internal selling teams will be making a bigger comeback in early 2022. Already I have shaken more hands and bumped fists in the past four weeks than I have in the last two years (maybe combined). And I am grateful for that. Here is why your buyer and seller may benefit from this roll-back trend too.
THE BENEFITS OF FACE-TO-FACE IN THE SALES PROCESS
There is no argument that, especially with new prospects or early buyer relationships, salespeople can make stronger impressions in face-to-face meetings than virtually. Especially for high-value and complex solutions, your selling team benefits from being able to provide an in-person demonstration, to address any misunderstandings or objections with eye contact and body language feedback for guidance. Beyond the business aspect, too, in-person meetings have the potential to develop personal relationships between buyers and sellers — over a cup of coffee, teeing off together at the club, coming together for dinner.
It turns out, too, salespeople have a greater power of persuasion in-person than over email. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found in-person requests are 34x more successful than those made via email. In a US Travel Association report, executives estimate that they would lose 28% of their business without meeting in-person.
While the majority of people want to shake hands and sit across from your salesperson this year, there still exists the need to Seek to Serve™ what your buyer needs — and is comfortable with — as this will still vary between individual, business and region. And this presents an opportunity to your selling teams to truly step up from salespeople to trusted advisors.
THE SALES OPPORTUNITY IN 2022 AMID THE FLUCTUATIONS
As a seller, it is your responsibility to identify where your team can add value to your buyer. Every scenario will be different. The key thus is to identify not just the buyer issues but the real pain for the buyers in terms of shifting markets and restrictions — and then package a value proposition for them that uniquely addresses those pains.
But this can be complicated. Since the dynamics of the marketplace continue to rapidly change, the value levers may be different in February than they were in January — and a whole other story by March or April.
Your sellers need to be prepared to cater to buyer preferences and needs with a Seek to Serve, Not to Sell™ spirit. To inspire your selling teams to serve buyers with real value and by building deeper relationships in these fluid times, download our Seek to Serve, Not to Sell eBook.