How High Will The Bar Be For Face-To-Face Meetings In Future?
by Mark Hillary
I was talking to David Green at Teleperformance in the US recently. David specialises in Inside Sales which is an area of customer service we don’t talk about as much as the processes around just helping a customer with a problem. Customer service is not always just answering calls for help.
David was talking to me about the productivity increase companies can achieve by focusing more on inside sales, rather than field sales. Described without the industry jargon what he means is that if a company traditionally employed a sales team to be out on the road meeting clients then they could actually get much more done just by staying back at base (or at home) and contacting all those clients remotely.
Many sales executives have seen the same productivity gain. From 2-3 meetings a day being normal when they were all in-person it’s now possible to schedule a dozen or more – which is four times what was previously possible. Of course, some in-person meetings are still important, but the experience of the pandemic showed that most business activity could carry on through Zooms or Teams when required.
This got me thinking about how the recovery in travel might be slower than some are expecting. When the pandemic started shutting down travel back in March 2020 I had several international visits planned. Three were to see different companies opening their new offices in three different countries, one was a conference in Silicon Valley, and also a conference in London. That’s five round trips that were all cancelled.
The conferences are usually useful, although I have been to some that turned out to be a waste of time, so I am sure that I will still travel for events where I can see that interesting people are attending, but office ribbon-cutting? For me I think the bar is now going to be above this – it will take more than a free flight to tempt me away from home.
I have written quite often in the past about the changing nature of B2B sales – which affects all the CX specialists offering their services to clients. Even before the pandemic there was less personal interaction and much more of a focus on the impression you can create online. LinkedIn has become more important than ever as anyone pitching their services to a potential client can now expect that prospect to search for them on LinkedIn and Google – that first search instantly reveals if the person has any online credibility.
David’s focus on inside sales is similarly changing. Consumers are used to contacting a brand and asking for help with a problem – we know just how valuable it can be to use cross-selling and upselling in those interactions. These sales interactions can be on the channels that the customers are already using for communication – it doesn’t need to be a strictly delineated “sales” or “marketing” function – this is all blending with customer service now.
It seems that our experience of the past year has really normalised the experience of online engagement to the point where companies are now hiring people without ever meeting them. I know that I am redefining my own personal bar for travel and changing my mind about which journeys are really important – are you similarly changing the level at which you are prepared to spend time travelling in person?
Please let me know what you think the future for in-person face-to-face meetings – how high will the bar be for you? Leave a comment here or get in touch with me via my LinkedIn profile.