Now That We’re Open Again…
How Do I Build Group & Party Sales? The Virtual vs. Personal Approach
By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment
Let’s take a closer look at virtual communication as it relates to personally connecting. Many times, it isn’t easy to personally connect with a buyer due to distance, time and money. I’ve had to rely on the phone, email and technology that allows for face-to-face meetings, like Zoom, Go-To-Meeting and Google Hangouts.
Each time I think about the definition of “virtual,” I’m struck with the feeling that this kind of communication isn’t real — or it’s almost real, but not quite. And yet, I’ve experienced “really” getting in touch with people through LinkedIn, Facebook Messenger and email.
Definition of Virtual
1: being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted.
2: being on or simulated on a computer or computer network
3: of, relating to, or using virtual memory
4: of, relating to, or being a hypothetical particle whose existence is inferred from indirect evidence
Knowing how to best connect with buyers is complicated. We can send an email or text, place a phone call or snail-mail the potential buyer. However, since we know the first rule of the sales process is to connect with someone, it’s easy to see how the virtual approach can create real crises in communication.
We’re fortunate to have so much access to people. I love LinkedIn and use it to follow up with connections I’ve made in person. However, I don’t use it for an initial connection unless I’m seeking a referral introduction (i.e., I know someone who knows the prospect I want to reach, and I ask my contact to introduce me to them virtually via LinkedIn). I have instant credibility when a mutual friend connects me to a new prospect. When contact is made, you can bet I follow up as fast as possible with a phone call or even a face-to-face meeting when viable. I want to convert that cyber introduction into a more personal form of interaction as quickly as possible, so I can build a real foundation for the relationship.
At times, I’ve sent a Facebook message to someone I haven’t been able to reach by email or on the phone. But it’s important to note that I already knew this person. We wouldn’t be connected on Facebook if we hadn’t already interacted in some personal way.
Even though you can connect with someone virtually, I still believe that connection is indirect in nature. Relying on the “not real” world of virtual communication can foster a tremendous breakdown of intimacy in our relationships. I also think the average sales pro has a false sense that they’re doing their job because they virtually reach out to someone through email. Remember, it’s your job to connect with the buyer, not just attempt to communicate. Although you may be able to use email to cast a wider net to more people, more often, I think it’s better to use email for follow up and for ongoing communication after you’ve made a real, personal connection.
Remember it’s your job to connect with the buyer, not just attempt to communicate.
The more personal the communication, the more likely you are to build a real relationship. The more connected the buyer is to you, the more likely they are to purchase. Personal communication means there’s back and forth communication between two parties. The most direct way to create sales is to get together with the buyer for a conversation. Here’s how I rank the most efficient ways to get through the sales process and enjoy results you can count on:
1. Meet the buyer face to face. It’s much easier to understand the other person when you gather all the interpersonal clues they reveal through body language, facial expression, tone, and words. The value of a handshake is real. Leaning in and listening to another person is meaningful. It’s more difficult for a buyer to experience your “lean in” attitude when they’re on the phone. And that’s nearly impossible to communicate through email.
2. Have a video meeting where you can see one another. While body language may be a bit hidden, you can still read their facial expressions, their tone, and their words. I often have the sense of being in the room or at the table with a prospect when we’re on a Zoom video meeting.
3. Pick up the phone. I actually love using the phone and find it very efficient once a personal connection has been established. While reading body language and facial expressions are both sacrificed on a phone call, hearing their tone is not. Tone plays such an important role in communicating meaning. Many times, I’ve created confusion by firing off an email when I would’ve been better off having a quick phone call instead. And I have to admit, when I’m working from home, I sometimes take advantage of using the phone and make sales calls in my gym clothes!
4. Use the indirect tools. Finally, take advantage of all the written tools available such as email, Facebook Messenger, and text messages. But please know that if you solely rely on indirect, virtual methods of contact, you’re less likely to sell to buyers who are interested in high-value, long-term relationships.
Beth is the CEO of TrainerTainment LLC, a training company devoted to the family entertainment and hospitality industries. Beth and her team are focused on helping the companies they serve to make more money through sales, guest service, leadership and social media marketing training. Training products and services are delivered in person, through books and DVDs, and virtually with e-learning courses, webinar development and 24/7 online access. Visit her company’s website at www.trainertainment.com.