Are In-Person Sales Calls a Thing of the Past?

As we work our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re learning to live our lives differently. Gone are restaurants, theaters, bars, clubs, daycares, gyms, and, for many, the office. CNBC interviewed a Shark Tank Shark, Robert Herjavec. He said that we are “living the future,” and that while we may return to offices, remote and at-home working is here to stay.  

Are relationship sellers "living the future?"

Relationship sellers have had to adapt to these new constraints. They’ve done this by shifting to social media selling, employing online meeting platforms, and relying more on email and texting. Salespeople have it in them to be highly adaptable —especially successful sellers. My question is, “will the in-person sales call survive?” 

Online meetings are the norm

On the New York Times’ The Argument podcast May 7 episode, they were talking about our new pandemic-restricted lives (it’s about 20 minutes in). The hosts discussed the recent explosion of Zoom meetings (and the other online meeting platforms) in our lives. They spend some time joking around about the frustrations and challenges of meeting platforms in general. After that, the hosts settled into a thoughtful discussion about how the medium has changed our lives. We’ve coined new terms like “Zoom cocktails.” We’ve learned to mute and unmute. We even have Zoom playdates for small children. It’s worth a listen. 

The one thing that stuck with me was what Michelle Goldberg said:  

I think about all the times before this when I was invited to book parties, or a drinks thing, and I was always like I don’t know I’m so tired, I’ve got get up. I kind of regret every social engagement I’ve flaked out on in the past. 

She regrets not having social interaction in the past while living in the era of Zoom cocktails.  

Regret is a powerful motivator

Regret has power over us. According to Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and Slowand countless research papers, our perceptions of and attitudes towards regret shape our behaviors. There are a lot of factors that affect how much we regret our decisions. One of the largest is our perception of our control over the situation. Consider Kahneman’s missed-flight example. Think about arriving at the airport to find that you’ve missed your flight when you are either:  

  • 5 minutes late 
  • 3 hours late 

Which would cause you more grief? Most people say that they would be more upset when they miss it by five minutes. Why? Because they replay the situation in their head to find a way for things to come out right: “If only I had turned right on Water Street, I wouldn’t have hit the construction on I-47.”  

Of course, when you miss a flight, it doesn’t matter how late you were. The plane is no longer there, and you’ve got to deal with the airline. The only question is how much you’ll beat yourself up. 

Regret affects future behaviors

Kahneman talks about “regret-proofing” your investment strategy. Why? Because we make a lot of decisions, especially bad decisions, based on how much we believe that we might regret it in the future. In essence, we’re talking about our risk tolerance. If we’re okay with risk, we won’t regret future losses. If we’re not okay with it, then we will undoubtedly mourn those losses.  

Not one of us is a truly rational person. We all make decisions based on rational thoughts and emotions. That is to say that our feelings affect our thinking.  

Think back to before the pandemic. How much did you value in-person meetings? Now, how much do you think you’ll appreciate them after we return to some new normal?  

In-person meetings are priceless

When we interact with someone, face-to-face, we get the whole person.  

In the future, harness in-person meetings like never before

It may be months or years before we’re back to normal-ish. But we’ll get there. So, when we can go back to having in-person meetings, especially ones where we can shake hands, keep right now in mind.  

Understand the value of in-person interaction for you and your client. Remember how bad it was trying to do all of your selling on Zoom. Sure, wearing shorts is fun, but the novelty wears off. As leaders of salespeople, communicate the value to your sellers.  

Got a question?

Reach out. We’re always excited to talk about CRM adoption, process creation, and working through challenges leaders face. If you need us in a hurry, call 216.236.3836.

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