Paul provides some great tips for getting face-to-face meetings with that remotely working buyer.
Sellers need to have a compelling reason why the buyer should meet with them in person.
Test your relationship with the customer. Reach out to them and ask for a favor: “Can I take you out to lunch?”
Offer to bring along an expert or colleague (i.e., tech person) that will provide the buyer even more value.
Position the face-to-face meeting as a time saver. One in-person meeting can take the place of three Zoom meetings.
If you’re having no luck meeting with your regular buyer, reach out to other decision makers and create group buy-in.
Show proof that your face-to-face meeting will create value for the buyer.
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How do I get more face-to-face meetings?
(Transcribed from podcast)
This question comes from a recent kickoff meeting. I had a group of salespeople—60 to 70. Did a one day training, and one of the topics that came up was, “How do we get more face-to-face meetings with our customers?” And what’s happening, it seems as though buyers, procurement people, any decision makers, they’re now working remotely, and what salespeople are challenged with is getting back together, face to face, with these customers. So that’s the question we’re going to answer on today’s show: How do I get more face-to-face meetings with my customers?
Before we get into answering that question, just a reminder, Selling Through Tough Times is available wherever you get your books. You can also visit our book website, which is Toughtimer.com. There are several complimentary resources. In fact, you can read three free chapters. They are available for download. So go to Toughtimer.com to check it out.
Let’s get back to that question: How do I get more face-to-face meetings with my customer? Well, we need to talk about why we’re not getting them to begin with, okay? And here’s what I believe. I believe what has happened throughout this pandemic is that buyers have started to realize they can get so much accomplished via just working remotely: zoom meetings, phone calls, whatever it may be. So, what’s happening is buyers are wondering, “…but why do we need to meet face to face? What is the purpose?” And so, salespeople need to have a compelling reason as to why that customer should meet face to face.
And here’s the reality. What has happened over the past couple of years, that has revealed a problem that was already there beforehand. And that is that salespeople, in general, are struggling to create enough value in our face-to-face meetings. That’s our challenge. Remember, customers are looking at what they sacrifice, which is their time. They’re questioning, “Okay. Is the time I need to expend worth what I’m going to gain from this meeting?” So, if they believe that they’re going to gain something and it’s worth the sacrifice, then yeah, they’re likely to meet with you. So, what we’re going to do today, I’m going to give you a few tips on how you can get more face-to-face meetings.
Tip number one: invoke a little empathy. Talk to your customers and say, “Look, I know that this is a challenge that many of your salespeople are running into as well. They’re trying to get back together with their customers face to face. I know you understand the struggle.” And so, by invoking a little empathy, what you’re doing is you’re letting them know, Hey, I get it. Your company is facing the same challenges. And as they empathize with you, they’re going to be a little more likely to meet with you. So, invoke a little empathy with your customers.
Number two: ask for a favor. I would argue that if we are having trouble meeting with our customer face to face, I would challenge you to think, you know what, do you even really have that great of a relationship with this customer if they’re not willing to meet with you? Reach out to your best customers and say, “You know, look, we—gosh, over the past couple of years, we’ve been jumping through hoops. All I’m asking for is a chance to meet face to face. Can you do me a favor?” Let them know, “Hey, my boss has given me trouble because my expense account is not being used. Can I take you out to lunch?” Ask them for a favor. And if you truly have a good relationship with your customers, they should be willing to meet with you. So ask them for a favor.
Tip number three: bring in a colleague or another company representative. Bringing in another person can help open up the doors. If you reach out to your customers and say, “Hey, I just want to let you know, our technical-support team really needs to meet with your company, and the reason why is we need to go through this, this, and this.” And by bringing in that technical-support person, it’s going to create more value. It’s going to also open up some ways that the technical team can help build relationships, as well, with their technical counterparts. Bringing in an expert or bringing in a colleague is a great way to open doors.
Another technique, you can bring in some of your high-level decision makers. Think about your VP of sales or think about your business owner or any other high-level decision maker within your organization. Reach out to your customer and let them know that, “Hey we’re going to be bringing in our president (or our vice president or our sales manager), and we would really like to secure a meeting with you and then some of the other team members.” And you can offer to do a little lunch and learn maybe. Just get them together. And bringing in another person can certainly help. It also demonstrates some perceived value, right? It sends the message that, “Okay, you’re such an important customer we’re bringing in our technical people, (or our manager or our VP or president, whoever it may be).” It builds that perceived value.
Number four: position the face-to-face meeting as a time saver. I’ve heard this technique from other salespeople. What they will do is they’ll reach out to the customer and say, “I understand that, maybe the timing isn’t right. But by meeting face to face, we’re actually going to help save more time. From our experience, we can replace three Zoom meetings with just one face-to-face meeting. I know we’re all looking to free up our calendar with less Zoom meetings, so this is a way to do it.” So what you’re doing is you’re talking to the buyer and, especially if they say, “Oh, I don’t have time to meet face to face,” you can remind them that one face-to-face meeting is really the equivalent of three Zoom meetings. And what you’re doing there is you’re offering them a way to save some time. So, keep that in mind.
Tip number five: work on a product demo. Product demonstrations are an easy way to get in there and showcase to the customer ways that you can create value. But you can’t really do a full-out product demo via Zoom. You may be able to if you’re selling software or an intangible product. And you can do a video as a last resort, but nothing’s going to replace the customer putting their hands on the product, seeing it work, having their other team members to be part of it. So really push for the product demo and focus on some of the newer things, newer products and services that you have to offer. A product demo can help you get in there.
Now, tip number six: if your procurement buyer or your main contact is just not willing to meet with you face to face, start reaching out and meeting with other decision makers. Reach out to other decision makers that influence the buying process. Reach out to those decision makers and generate group buy-in for your solutions. And what this is going to do is help you generate even more momentum. Our research shows that, during the decision-making process, there are 5.8 decision makers involved. So, that means, if you’re only talking to one person within your opportunities and they’re unwilling to meet with you, there’s likely four to five other people that are involved in the process that you should be reaching out to. So make sure you reach out to those other decision makers.
And then, finally, tip number seven (and this is a big one): show proof that your meeting will create value. And how you do that is you call attention to some of your previous face-to-face meetings. And here’s how you may position it: “Mr. Customer, I’d love to get together face to face with you. In fact, from our experience over the past couple of months, when we’ve met face to face with customers, here are the problems we’re able to see. Here’s how we’re able to create value. Here’s the result of meeting face to face. Here’s the outcome that it generated.” Be able to share with your customer some of the outcomes, what you’ve achieved, in those face-to-face meetings. And then, follow up by saying, “You know, I’d hate for you to miss this opportunity for us to come in and create more value and find ways to solve problems. It really would make sense for us to get together face to face.” What you’re doing is you’re showing some proof that you created value in that face-to-face meeting.
So, there are seven tips for you. And a final one, we’ll call it a bonus tip. When you’re reaching out to customers, when you have that face-to-face meeting, your primary motivation should be to create value for the other person that you are meeting with. What value can you create? You want that buyer, at the end of the meeting, to think, “Okay, wow, this really was worth it. I was able to do this, and this. By doing that, you’re creating value and that’s going to open up the door for future opportunities.
Make it a big day.