In this episode, Paul shares three ideas to help you get more face-to-face appointments during a pandemic.
“Attitude matters when you’re making a request.” Don’t talk yourself out of the meeting before you have even asked for it.
“Why should the customer meet with you face-to-face?” If you can’t compellingly answer this question, the customer isn’t going to meet with you.
“Remember, your customers also have salespeople that are eager to get out and sell. Invoke a little empathy and call attention to that fact in your messaging.”
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How do I request face-to-face meetings during a pandemic?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On a recent email exchange, a sales leader reached out to me. Their company is certainly getting ready to reopen as far as salespeople going out in the field. I know many companies are starting to lift their travel restrictions and allowing their salespeople to go out there and make face-to-face sales visits. I know so many of you have felt like a caged animal for the past two to three months, stuck behind the computers, Zoom call after Zoom call. All those extroverted salespeople just can’t wait to get out there and meet with our customers again. So I wish you all happy selling as you get back out there and meet with your customers. That’s the question we’re going to answer today. How do we request those face-to-face meetings?
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Also, don’t forget to pick up your copy of Value-Added Selling. It’s available on Amazon or wherever you get your books. We have a whole section in the book on customer messaging. We’ll hint at a few of those themes throughout today’s show as well.
With that being said, let’s go ahead and get to this question. How do I request face-to-face meetings during a pandemic? Let’s think about what has happened. Our world has been rocked with the Coronavirus, with the economic turmoil, with everything that is going on right now. Trying to get back out there and see customers face to face again might feel a little weird for some salespeople. One salesperson I was talking to you over the weekend said, “How do we even meet face to face? What’s that first meeting going to be like again?” And it’s probably going to be like your first date, where it feels awkward. How do you talk? What do you do? I mean, it might be a little weird. Let’s just face it. Like anything, we’re going to get used to it. We get to this new normal, we got to remember that customers need us right now. They need us now more than they’ve ever needed us. We, as salespeople, create value, so we need to be there for them.
Let’s get into some tips and ideas. First things first, let’s talk about attitude. We’ve said it so many times on this show: attitude drives behavior. We behave as we believe. That is true in all things, especially when you are making a request for a meeting. Right now, I know some salespeople might be telling themselves, Why even request a meeting? The customer will let me know when they’re ready for me to visit again. Or, The prospect probably isn’t taking any face-to-face meetings right now. When salespeople talk like that—inside their head—they’re just filling their head with negativity. That negativity will come through in the request. That negativity, that lack of confidence, will show in the request.
So, we have to maintain a positive attitude. Before we type up our message or request the meeting, run some thoughts through your head and say, You know what? Customers are meeting with salespeople. This customer needs my help. I’m here to provide value. This customer wants to meet face to face. Give yourself some positive affirmations. It’s going to help get you in the right mindset. And as you’re in the right mindset, it’s going to come across in your behavior. Again, attitude drives your behavior. Don’t talk yourself out of the meeting before you even asked for one. Believe that the customer wants to meet with you. Believe that you create value, and in your requests, that’s going to shine through.
The second tip, this question is critical… Why should the customer want to meet with you face to face? In fact, here’s what I want you to imagine… imagine that you are talking to a prospect or a customer on the phone and you make your request: “Mr. Customer. Would you like to meet next Thursday at 11:00 AM?” I want you to imagine them staring right at you through the phone and saying, “Why should I want to meet with you face to face? What do we need to cover face to face that we just can’t cover in a Zoom call or a phone call?” You have to be prepared to answer that question. If you can’t compellingly answer this question, the customers aren’t going to meet with you. That prospect is not going to give you the time of day. You have to answer that question, why?
You have to have a clear call objective. That’s what we’re going for here. We’ve talked about this before. Having a crystal-clear call objective is so important during this pandemic because the customer wants to know why they should open up their office to you. Why should they risk making their employees maybe feel uncomfortable if they don’t want to meet with a salesperson or have someone new inside the building?
We have to be aware of that. And so here are a couple of thoughts. One, I would think of some examples to share with your customer. Some things are just better off covering face to face. Whether it’s a product demonstration, whether it is a plant visit or a discovery call. Some things are better off face to face because you can notice all the little nuances. You take a factory tour—you get to see the operation. You get to uncover ideas. You get to find problems that they had no idea that they could solve. You can observe a lot just by watching. Yogi Berra said that. But again, some things are better off face to face. Mention that to the customer.
Third thing, when you are making the request, remember that this customer also has salespeople. If they’re in business and they’re a for-profit company, somebody’s selling something. I would use that to your advantage. I would say to the customer in your requests, “Just like your salespeople are eager to get back out there in front of your customers, we are just as eager. Here are some of the things we can do to create value for your operation. Let’s have a meeting. Let’s sit down face to face and go through this.” What you’re trying to do is invoke a little bit of empathy. Let them know that just like them, you’re also eager to get back out there and meet with customers; meet with them face to face. And not only that, you’ve got to remember, depending on the type of decision maker you’re interacting with, they want to get things back to normal for their employees. They want their employees to feel comfortable and [feel] like things are the way they used to be.
Here’s one other thought. Let’s say you’re talking to a business owner and you might say, “I understand that you’re trying to get everything back to a new sense of normal; get back to the way things used to be. What could be better than having me come by and meet with a few key stakeholders, a few engineers, a few operations managers, just to get a sense of what’s going on and how we can help them come out of this stronger. That’s something we would normally do. And if you’re trying to get back to business as normal, why don’t we schedule the meeting. It will send the right signal to your employees.” Think about that, invoking a little empathy. And again, looking at it from a higher level, how that a business owner wants to get back to normal, use that as part of your messaging.
The fourth thing: Before you’re trying to go make a visit, review their COVID-19 response. So many websites now have a whole response page dedicated to how they’re handling COVID-19, what they’re doing. The steps and the measures that they’re taking to make their customers feel safe are going to be the same things they expect from you as a visitor. So make sure you’re following those guidelines and be respectful of whatever the request might be. You’ve got to remember, in these uncertain times, people are handling this a little bit differently. There’s a broad spectrum of people’s comfort level, so it’s important that we respect that people are going to respond in different ways. But again, I can’t mention this enough, you have to at least make the request. You have to make the request.
With that being said, let’s do a quick recap:
Number one: Remember, your attitude matters. Don’t talk yourself out of meeting before you even have requested one. Keep in mind, people are going to meet. They’re going to want to get back together face to face. There’s just something about that face-to-face meeting.
Number two: Be absolutely clear on why this customer or prospect should want to meet with you face to face. If you don’t have a compelling answer to this question, they’re not going to meet with you. You have to have a crystal-clear objective.
Number three: Remember your customers also have salespeople. They have salespeople that are eager to get back out there and sell. Invoke a little empathy and call attention to that fact in your messaging. Let them know, “Hey. Just like your salespeople are eager to get back out and help your customers, we’re just as eager to help you as well.”
Fourth tip: Remember to review their COVID-19 response. They’re going to have it on their website or something, or just ask them what their guidelines are in the meeting request.
One last thought though, don’t be afraid to get out there and just knock on a couple of doors as well. Last week at my home, it’s a wonderful evening. I think it was last Wednesday or Thursday. There were some door-to-door sales guys walking around… remodeling type company. I’ve got to tell you, it was refreshing to see door-to-door salespeople. I asked “How many meetings have you guys had since you’re out here knocking on doors?” And just covering a couple of streets, they already had three or four appointments. I respect that. I love the fact that they’re just getting out there and making things happen.
I know we’re all sick of sitting around. I know we’re sick of this pandemic and all the pain it’s causing. One of the best things we can do is create action. So move forward. If you’re not completely comfortable requesting meetings yet, step outside your comfort zone. What can it hurt to ask and get back out there?
Make it a big day.