March 12

“Get off Your Butt and…”

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Sale Leadership Awakening
Sale Leadership Awakening
"Get off Your Butt and…”
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In this episode of the Sales Leadership Awakening podcast, hosts Colleen Stanley and Steven Rosen discuss the significant changes in sales post-COVID-19. They address the reluctance of sales reps to return to face-to-face selling and the importance of embracing in-person meetings. Colleen and Steven emphasize the benefits of building trust, rapport, and collaboration through face-to-face interactions. 

“If your competitors are starting to visit your clients or are already visiting your clients, and you’re not, you have a problem. You’re at a competitive disadvantage.” – Steven Rosen

Key Takeaways:

  • In-person interactions allow for better reading nonverbal cues, building trust, and practicing empathic listening.
  • Face-to-face meetings foster collaboration, creativity, and solutions co-creating with clients.
  • Sales leaders should model the behavior they expect from their sales teams and prioritize in-person meetings to build relationships and retain top talent.
  • Encouraging sales reps to get off their butts and visit clients can provide a competitive advantage and lead to increased sales success.

Follow Colleen Stanley on LinkedIn

Follow Steven Rosen on LinkedIn

[Transcript]

Introduction

[00:00:00] Colleen Stanley: Welcome to the sales leadership awakening podcast, where we work each week to bring ideas and concepts to bridge the ever-going challenge of bridging the knowing-doing gap in the sales leadership world. My co-host, Steven Rosen, is Colleen Stanley, and I am joining today. Steven, we have a fun topic—at least, we think it is—on the docket today. 

[00:00:27] Steven Rosen: We’re going to talk about one of the most significant changes post-COVID, sales reps are just not getting off their butts to visit clients. Before we even go there, I want to congratulate Colleen on being named the No.1 Sales Professional Guru for 2024 from Global Gurus. I know she’s very humble about it. Congratulations and well deserved, Colleen. 

[00:00:53] Colleen Stanley: Thank you. It is very gracious of you to acknowledge that. 

[00:00:56] Steven Rosen: Congratulations, and it’s worth acknowledging. I am so passionate about this subject. Some organizations still need the boat, and I can set it up slightly. If we go back, it was a while ago that we were amid COVID-19. I remember the focus of COVID-19 being how we keep our people safe.

[00:01:19] Steven Rosen: How do we adjust ourselves to still sell in this new world? Many sales reps fought, screamed, and yelled, ‘I hate Zoom! This is the worst thing. I can’t be close to my clients. I don’t know how to present with this. This is new technology.’ We suffered through two and a half years of COVID-19, I don’t want to start with vaccines, but it’s not a threat to our lives anymore.

[00:01:45] Steven Rosen: It hasn’t been for at least a year. We can go about our regular business, but interestingly enough, some folks have just settled into a beautiful world of doing their communication and their sales through Zoom or Teams.

[00:02:00] Steven Rosen: Colleen, let’s dive in. I want to get your perspective. What do you think is why sales reps have been reluctant to return to face-to-face selling? Please share with our audience your thoughts. Is there reluctance, resistance, or the lack of getting off your butt and going out and selling?

[00:02:17] Colleen Stanley: If you’d put it under some of the terms we use in the emotional intelligence world, this falls under emotional self-awareness, and underneath that competency is examining your belief systems, right? We all know that what you believe becomes your truth, which drives your actions or inactions. I think sales leaders should address their salesperson’s belief systems about face-to-face meetings and their importance because these are developed in several ways.

[00:02:48] Colleen Stanley: It’s authority figures, what you read, what you listen to, and who you hang with for our conversation today. If you’re hanging around other sales professionals who are rationalizing, saying, ‘Steven, nobody wants to meet face to face anymore. My customers are all comfortable through video calls, ‘ in some cases, that can be true, but I have to tell you, the research does not back that up in common sense.

The Importance of Face-to-Face Selling

[00:03:13] Colleen Stanley: For example, HubSpot is known for its excellent research, which shows that 65% of consumers still prefer a face-to-face meeting. Now, let’s put some guardrails around that. If you’ve got a transactional product, you don’t need a high-powered salesperson like you.

[00:03:30] Colleen Stanley: But if it’s something complex, it’s a little intricate. It’s the first time they purchased it, and the research shows I want to meet face-to-face with you. I believe you’ve got to look at that belief system because going back to COVID, I heard, ‘Oh, prospects won’t run any longer than a 20-minute call during COVID. They just don’t want it.’ My belief system was that if they’re serious about solving a problem, I’m scheduling 45 minutes, and they usually run over to an hour.

[00:04:10] Colleen Stanley: What directed those conversations? It was my belief system. Second, it is something called W.O.R.K., again, the EQ umbrella called reality testing, which is the ability to see things as they are versus how you want them to be.

[00:04:32] Colleen Stanley: I now work in a virtual office. I’ve had the office space for years. It’s nice. If I want to go to Colorado, I can hike in the middle of the day. The fact is my customers want me back out in the field. The minute COVID lifted, my virtual training dropped to almost zero, and I was back on a plane.

[00:04:53] Colleen Stanley: I’m back in a car. It’s called work, and so what? When you use the term competitive advantage, most people I’ve seen will not do the work it takes to succeed. If you’re getting back on planes or cars, guess what?

[00:05:08] Colleen Stanley: It’s a competitive advantage. So those two points, belief systems, and guess what? It’s work. 

[00:05:14] Steven Rosen: I agree with you, and it’s partially true that you can make effective calls online. We’ve all learned this is an excellent communication method, but it’s not necessarily a slam dunk to make your numbers.

[00:05:26] Steven Rosen: I come from a slightly different perspective. You mentioned the keyword competitive advantage, and I look at it as if your competitors are starting to visit your clients or are already visiting your clients, and you’re not; you’ve got a problem.

[00:05:39] Steven Rosen: You’re at a competitive disadvantage. Competitors are on their butts; if you’re visiting, then you’re at a competitive advantage. If the two of you see them, it’s an equal playing field, but you’re not stuck behind the computer screen. You’re very kind.

[00:05:51] Steven Rosen: You say it’s work. Sometimes, it becomes laziness. We take the path of least resistance.

[00:05:55] Colleen Stanley: We’ve gotten lazy and had to hunker down during COVID. Well, it’s over, so you’ve got to establish new habits, which are new habits and a new way of time management and planning your calendar.

[00:06:08] Colleen Stanley: I was doing a little research for our conversation today, and her name is Renee Siegel. I think I’ve got the name right, and she’s the CEO of Connext out in Silicon Valley. She runs a marketing communications firm. So you think of Silicon Valley, the technology hub, and she said, we just need to remind everybody, regardless of what type of business you’re in, you’re in the people business.

[00:06:31] Colleen Stanley: This is great. It doesn’t mean we eliminate this, but we need to get back to face-to-face conversations, which leads me to this question. Steven, what can sales leaders do to encourage their salespeople to embrace face-to-face discussions? Do you have any thoughts? 

[00:06:52] Steven Rosen: Well, your question is very kind, and you’re very kind. Being encouraged could have different connotations. I’ll comment from a more emotionally mature perspective. I know it’s hard, but I’ll work to get there. Some of it’s setting expectations. If everyone’s fine doing business a certain way, I don’t blame the rep for not saying, Hey, I’m going to continue doing business this way; everybody else is. 

[00:07:14] Steven Rosen: I think it’s incumbent upon leadership if that’s what they want if that’s what the customers want to say, Hey, guys and gals, we’ve survived COVID If God forbid it rears its ugly head again. We know how we can run our business. Now’s the time to be out there.

[00:07:31] Steven Rosen: In Canada, we have long winters. I love to get out of the house and meet with clients. One client has asked if I can do this virtually. 

[00:07:42] Steven Rosen: To me, encouraging is friendly, and promoting is when someone goes out and sees a client. That’s great. You want to reward and acknowledge that, but to me, it’s almost setting the expectations up. You are salespeople. Your employment contract says you should be out there 50 percent of the time.

[00:08:00] Steven Rosen: I think back to days, just to myself, and I’m very passionate about this. I visited some clients in Montreal, including clients with various decision-makers. So, I book as many appointments as possible on one or two days and see as many folks in that organization as possible.

[00:08:18] Steven Rosen: Between scheduled calls, I’d go down to the cafeteria, grab a coffee, and grab lunch. If they didn’t throw me out, I’d say I have a meeting, but I’d run on Zoom. You don’t run into people, right? People I couldn’t see if, for whatever reason, we were busy would sit down and have a coffee with me.

[00:08:35] Steven Rosen: If you’re dealing with accounts with multiple buyers, multiple people involved in your decision, and multiple deals going on, being there is excellent. There are some real advantages to doing that. 

[00:08:46] Colleen Stanley: You remind me of a funny story; at least, I think it is.

[00:08:49] Colleen Stanley: I was interviewing a friend of mine, and she’s very good at significant account selling, and I’m good at systemizing materials, and as I said, she’s working with the American Airlines of the world, GE, so these are big companies. I said, tell me about your decision-making process. What are the steps and stages?

[00:09:05] Colleen Stanley: She looked at me and went. Well, I’ve got a process. I get into the company, and then I just walk up and down the hall. She said, “Okay, come on, give me the real thing. But she’s a high-relationship person and an outstanding critical thinker.

[00:09:20] Colleen Stanley: It’s just what you said. You only run into people if they’re walking behind the Zoom and probably shouldn’t be here. 

[00:09:27] Colleen Stanley: A client contacted me two weeks ago yesterday. We’d not worked together for a few years, but they now have some new sellers.

[00:09:35] Colleen Stanley: They want to learn more about EQ. It was straightforward to set up a Zoom call. What made the drive there? What happened? We reconnected, and then he walked me around the office and introduced me to people. There’s a lot of rapport-building that goes on there. 

The Benefits of Face-to-Face Interactions

[00:09:51] Steven Rosen: There’s the tremendous benefits and the, I don’t want to use the term again, but I will get off your butt. Zoom is great. Suppose you’ve conquered doing Zoom meetings and presenting on Zoom. That’s great. That’s one more tool in your toolbox, but as you said, we’re in the people business.

[00:10:05] Steven Rosen: Any other benefits that you can think of to be in the customer’s location, maybe even breaking bread with the 

[00:10:11] Colleen Stanley: customer. Oh, absolutely. We want to forget that we read it but don’t want to believe it. Human beings are wired to connect, and in fact, I wish I had cut this picture out of the paper a few years ago, and it was where all the world leaders were together.

[00:10:30] Colleen Stanley: I can’t remember which summit it was, but I remember distinctly Steven sitting there looking at that picture and thinking, huh? Imagine the money they were taking out of their busy schedules. They could have done this on a video call but got together. Human beings are wired to connect. The biology behind this is that when you connect, it’s easier to be empathetic and practice empathic listening, which builds trust and rapport.

[00:10:56] Colleen Stanley: You start releasing bonding hormones, Oxytocin. There’s a chemical reaction that is happening easier when you’re face-to-face. We all talk about trust as the foundation of relationships. Well, guess what? That’s Biology 101, and if we’re in the same room together, I can read the room better.

[00:11:17] Colleen Stanley: I can pick up more. See, on a video call, we’re supposed to look at that camera—that’s what we’re taught to do. But then you could be missing some nonverbals from the other people in the meeting. The second thing, and I’m sure you’ve had this happen, is that it’s easier to collaborate and create when you’re in a meeting.

[00:11:36] Colleen Stanley: At this point, most of our buyers are pretty smart, so I always tell them we’ve got to co-create the solution to come in with my expertise, but you got a boatload of it. It’s harder to do that on a Zoom or a video call. It naturally starts collaboration and creativity, which arrives at a better solution and builds rapport and trust. Those are a couple of benefits that I see. Talk about breaking bread. 

[00:12:02] Steven Rosen: Maybe it’s my ethnic background, but I always find when you sit down for lunch, lunch can be very conversational.

[00:12:10] Steven Rosen: Building a relationship is always a great way. Indeed, having coffee together is excellent, but there’s nothing like lunch or dinner to get to know somebody and to find out what their issues are because you leave the work environment in most cases, right? You’re out on one, and suddenly, there’s no hierarchy. You’re two people enjoying each other’s company and finding much more. 

[00:12:30] Steven Rosen: Some of those evenings, or maybe some wine is consumed. Some guards come down, and you get people to open up and create bonding memories.

[00:12:39] Steven Rosen: We had a great dinner at Gibbon’s or wherever possible, right? It’s almost as if I can use the word shameful. It’s shameful if you’re not taking advantage of the opportunities to meet face-to-face.

[00:12:50] Colleen Stanley: Right! Here’s what I observed happening, and it’s still a bad habit that sellers have: With the video calls, for some reason, they just tighten it up, and they were back to back to back to back, right? 

[00:13:00] Colleen Stanley:  There’s no relaxation. There’s no extra time for conversation, so when you are out to dinner, you’re off the clock, and you can relax, and the conversation is enforced on that 30-minute tight call. 

[00:13:14] Colleen Stanley: I like to have conversations, and mine go longer than that. Again, it’s a matter of belief system and schedule, but if you just got this business call, we’re not getting into the deeper stuff; I might learn about your family.

[00:13:30] Colleen Stanley: I might learn about a hobby, or we might just laugh our heads off about a TV series we both enjoy. That doesn’t happen just on a purely business call. You’re right. 

[00:13:43] Colleen Stanley: I will ask you a question, but you reminded me of a story here. I recently had an engagement where I had two dinners with the sales team I was working with.

[00:13:53] Colleen Stanley: It built for a great day of rapport because we’d already gotten to know each other and turned over dinner the next day. Here’s what’s interesting. I’m speaking at a conference where their team will also attend. The president reaches out to me and says, hey, what day are you getting in? Because we’re coming in on Sunday we always like to make that a fun day and if you’re in, we’d like to invite you to join us.

[00:14:14] Colleen Stanley: I’m not doing business with them at this conference. I’m hired by the association. That’s what happens when you build relationships. 

[00:14:22] Colleen Stanley: I like that you challenged me to use the word encourage because you’re right. This is where we’ve got to set expectations, and the expectation is that we’re here to serve the client. If we serve the client face to face for trust, rapport building, and collaboration, this is the way we roll now. 

[00:14:42] Colleen Stanley: One of the excuses I’ve heard is that customers are too busy to see us. People get too busy to see you because it’s not worth wasting their time. This is where I have to get a return on my investment.

Encouraging Face-to-Face Meetings

[00:14:57] Colleen Stanley: What can sales leaders do to ensure that they set the expectation when their reps show up to that face-to-face? This is the new world. How do you maximize return? How do you make it relevant for both parties? Do you have any ideas? 

[00:15:10] Steven Rosen: One thing that triggers because we’re talking to this message is to sales leaders, to their salespeople.

[00:15:17] Steven Rosen: Sales leaders also need a wake-up call; if their sales reps are not visiting clients, it means they’re not visiting clients. 

[00:15:26] Steven Rosen: Let’s encourage them to say, Hey, once every month, I’m going to come out with you out of your office to visit clients. Let’s plan a day because the most powerful thing leaders can do is be out there and coach, and the most potent form of coaching for me is observational. Yes, you can observe a Zoom call, but again, all the same, the benefits that you described and we bantered around in terms of the sales leader, getting out and meeting clients and being in those meetings, not only to build rapport, not only to move the sale forward, not only to have a competitive advantage but to be able to see how the rep does.

[00:16:03] Steven Rosen: How are their selling skills? Did they bring value? So, to answer your question, which I didn’t answer, it comes back to essential selling. We just have to rewind the clock to pre-COVID days when we were doing this and doing this, that this was the only way we did business. 

[00:16:18] Steven Rosen: How do we bring value to clients? Oh, we’re making sure our reps bring value, especially in the space that I’ve worked in, the pharmaceutical area, where reps may show up and throw up instead of bringing value to the physician. This is our sales aid. We’re going to talk to you about this today, doctor.

[00:16:34] Steven Rosen: Did you know that, blah, blah. That’s not selling, but many companies have gone that route. But to me, it comes back to fundamentals. We’re discussing the fundamentals of reps in the field, bringing value, and using practical selling skills. But as you say, the first step is encouraging them to get out in the field. You’ll hit more home runs when you get up to bat than sitting in the dugout on Zoom. 

[00:16:59] Colleen Stanley: I like your point that we’ve got to model the behavior we expect because I was a regional manager before becoming a sales VP.

[00:17:06] Colleen Stanley: I had 18 direct reports as a regional sales manager because we were a startup. We were all field reps then, so I was in a car often. Besides the observation that’ll happen, I can tell you which is excellent. It was relationship-building, so we all talked about retaining our top people.

[00:17:25] Belonging is a big way for people to remain with companies. You know how you do it? You get out there, and you spend time with them. I remember riding with my rep in Indiana. Julie is her name, and we had several appointments booked. We had done a lot of talking and all that, and then we just had a quiet moment. Suddenly, she hit a set of railroad tracks, and we both just went, whoa. We had laughed about that for the next 20 years, just goofy things. I’m traveling with a rep in Kansas, and she invited me to her home for dinner, and her husband had to cook dinner.

[00:17:56] Colleen Stanley: You get to know your reps.. that ties into retention. What’s important to them? What’s their life like? I love the coaching aspect, but model the behavior we expect, so if we hope to build trust with our customers, you must do the same. If you don’t have 18 direct reports, you have no excuse for not getting out there and traveling with your reps.

[00:18:16] Steven Rosen: If you think of it, the advantage with the reps is the advantage with the customers. Customers like to see leaders, too. They want to meet the company. Who are the decision-makers in the company?

Conclusion

[00:18:27] Steven Rosen: We’ve laid out the benefits and made the case that if someone is listening to this and their reps are not out, stop listening to the podcast, call your reps, and tell them to get out in the field. 

[00:18:36] Colleen Stanley: Maybe that’s what they’ve got to do. You need to review your activity plan. This number needs to be set each month, whether it’s new business acquisition or client retention, and I like your idea. Let’s rewind because a lot of the fundamentals still work. We can keep grabbing the new technology that comes out of the latest ways of selling, but the fundamentals generally involve people and people management and report building.

[00:19:02] Colleen Stanley: Those aren’t going away. It is, again, Biology 101. 

[00:19:06] Steven Rosen: We shared so many insights here. If you haven’t inspired folks who are listening, get off their butts and see a client, have lunch with a client, or stay in the client’s office. Is there anything else, Colleen, that you want to share that will inspire folks if we still need to do so?

[00:19:21] Colleen Stanley: I love Denzel Washington’s quote, the famous actor. The quote his father gave him was, Denzel, do the work so you can do the job. I read this. It was in an interview, and I didn’t quite understand it initially. If you think about it, if you’ll do the work of going out and having face-to-face meetings, whether it’s a sales leader with your rep or the salesperson with their client, what it allows you to do is the work that becomes fun. Once you’ve established a relationship, it becomes repeat business.

[00:19:51] Colleen Stanley: You must remain relevant and build value. But because you did the upfront work, you can enjoy that incredible thing in the sales profession: business friends and business relationships. It becomes more accessible, so I would say follow Denzel Washington’s advice and do the work so you can do it. 

[00:20:12] Steven Rosen: Great insight. Great quote. I’m going to keep it simple. My insight is if you want to crush your numbers. If you want to be on the podium at the end of the year, you know what you have to do. If the new habit of doing Zoom becomes the old one, it’s time to break that habit. Use that tool where necessary, but there is no better impact than being face-to-face with your client or sales rep. I’m thinking of a quote. If it’s to be, it’s up to me. If you want to be a star, get off your butt. 

[00:20:41] Steven Rosen: Colleen, this was fun. I think there’s an important message here, and we hope that folks who are listening have gathered some very insightful strategies and reasons why to encourage their teams and encourage themselves to get off their butts and visit their clients.

[00:20:58] Steven Rosen: If you’re listening, we’ve been very excited and passionate about building a community here. If you like this discussion on face-to-face selling and found it insightful, don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast. We’re out there every week, offering great insights to help you grow your business quickly.

[00:21:16] Steven Rosen: So if you’re working out and you want to listen to something insightful, Inspiring, and awakening, I suggest that you subscribe to the podcast. You put likes down, share the podcast, and get the word out there because we’re here to bring you some great insights, and it’s easy. We’re on any platform that you like.

[00:21:34] Steven Rosen: Colleen, thank you, and congratulations again. 

[00:21:37] Colleen Stanley: Thank you. 


Tags

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