By Paul Reilly
Something is happening. Over the past month, my office has received an influx of requests to speak and train at LIVE (face-to-face) events. As an extroverted people person, you could imagine my joy to take these requests. Salespeople are desperate for this type of connection.
According to an APCO Insight survey, 83 percent of workers miss in-person meetings and conventions. The same study found that 78 percent of participants are eager to return to face-to-face meetings and business events once restrictions are lifted and the virus is contained.
People yearn for human connections. The one thing we needed this past year is the one thing we couldn’t have, each other. Consider all the ways people attempted to connect through the pandemic. People organized drive-by celebrations or socially distanced family gatherings. Other people would sing to strangers in the streets or applaud front-line healthcare workers changing shifts. People need people more than they need a screen.
Salespeople need other salespeople. I remember my first sales kick-off meeting. One of the peripheral benefits of that meeting was a hallway conversation with our President’s Club winner. During that conversation, I learned a great deal about what it takes to be successful in sales. I then asked the President’s Club winner if I could spend a few days in the field with him to learn and observe. Those three days had a profound impact on my sales career. Without a sales meeting it wouldn’t have happened.
I know that companies and sales leaders are not sure what to do. There is still some uncertainty and fear, but things are getting better. Here is the good news: the economy is humming along; more people are getting vaccinated every day and are eager to get back together.
So, what should sales leaders do about face-to-face meetings? Here are a few things to consider as you answer that question:
- Talk to your team. Ask your salespeople if they would be comfortable attending a face-to-face meeting. Consider putting together a short (anonymous) survey. Once you gather feedback, review the feedback with your leadership team.
- Take common-sense measures. Use your common sense when holding face-to-face meetings. Each country/state/county has varying levels of restrictions. Select a location that falls in line with your team’s comfort level. Do your best to make everyone feel comfortable.
- Make the meeting optional. Some of your salespeople will not feel comfortable attending a live event. Respect their decision and offer them a remote option to participate. It’s okay to encourage your team to attend but be understanding of those who are not comfortable.
- Give people space and more breaks. Select a room large enough to comfortably accommodate your team. Talk to meeting planning professionals to coordinate the space. Also, give your team more breaks than usual. Additional breaks will help them feel more comfortable.
- Hire a great speaker or trainer. Whatever topic you need—sales, leadership, customer service—bring in a speaker that will generate momentum and inspire your team. I know that some professional speakers and trainers are hesitant to travel and speak. I am not one of those speakers. I’m happy to jump on a plane, boat, or train to your company meeting.
The choice is yours. Make the decision. Do what’s right for your company and your team. Scheduling your first post-COVID meeting may seem challenging, but your team needs this.
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