From The Editor | April 12, 2019

When Connection No Longer Means Face-To-Face


By Travis Kennedy


Before I start, let me recognize that face-to-face meetings with a customer remain critical in influencing their relationship with your company. Meeting in person with a prospect is an integral part of the buyer’s journey and will remain an indication of effectiveness in becoming their preferred vendor for decades to come.  But how do we get to that point?  It’s ironic that we live in a world that is more connected than ever and yet choose to live more isolated lives.  Our ability to access information and be influenced independent of personal interactions is at an all-time high in human history.

I recently met with a Water Online client and we were discussing the topic of content and connection.  This person has been in the water industry for decades.  His contention was that face-to-face is the only way to create a true connection.  He also went long on just how high his team’s sales goal numbers are for the year.  That presents a very real problem.  Selling solutions requires a connection and is far from transactional.  How can one sales team generate enough face-to-face meetings with enough customers and potential clients to create an impactful connection? 

Time alone makes it extremely difficult, even before we begin to discuss the skills required to create and maintain such a connection.  Time makes this an almost unwinnable endeavor.  Add in the complexity of an ever-expanding decision-making loop and there truly is not enough time in the day to set appointments with everyone. Face-to-face is the best way to create a true connection with your customer but the answer on how to secure such an interaction doesn’t start there.

When I asked the client how he plans on getting all the face-to-face connection he needs to get to in the year ahead, he was far from certain. Fortunately, he was open-minded and willing to discuss the value of engaging thought-leadership content as a means to create meaningful connection with customers and prospects at a pace that can’t be generated by sales reps working alone. We discussed how his 2019 targets armed with Web-enabled cellphones and computers choose to connect with brands in a different way than they did in 1999. We walked through the buyer’s journey to explore how prospects begin their discovery process and through informative content move from initial attention to choosing to engage with a supplier. This process being 180-degrees from a supplier chasing down one contact at time and frantically trying to create a connection through a sales pitch or price concession.

By the end of our conversation, the client could see how important non-face-to-face connection has become in generating face-to-face content down the road, stating, “when I give my customer what they want and do so on their agenda, I have made the first step towards creating a connection with them.”

In the end, the client decided to start the journey toward a more rewarding approach and allow content to become, what will most likely be, a permanent part of their marketing and sales plan moving forward.

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