While every company has felt the effects of the global pandemic, the sales industry in particular went through a lot of changes this past year. As a people-facing profession, meeting in person has long been considered the most viable way to hit sales targets.
Medical sales is largely relationship building — making valuable connections with clients based on mutual attention and concern for patient needs. Removing this personal element from the sales meeting has put a strain on many sales reps.
The good news? The COVID-19 vaccine is available and advised for anyone over the age of 16, right on track with predictions of widespread vaccinations by early summer. It seems we’re headed back into the swing of things! But while you and many other reps are pumped to return to in-person sales, the sales skills you exercise won’t necessarily be the same as you remember.
Whether you recognize it or not, virtual meetings have changed the way you interact with clients. And new protocols will affect how you plan to engage face to face.
The switch back to in-person sales may be less intimidating than the sudden shift to virtual sales because some elements are at least familiar. However, there are a few important ways you need to adjust how you prepare for sales calls and call on your sales skills:
1. Stay on top of CDC guidelines
If there is one thing you’ve been able to expect since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, it is change. As quickly as the virus spread and evolved, the way we interacted shifted courses: don’t wear a mask, wear a mask, stay home, stay connected with loved ones, work from home, get a vaccine…and back to work you go.
Understandably, this may be overwhelming. It might feel like no one knows what to do. But these rapid changes are due to health experts constantly looking for a deeper understanding of disease and determining ways to protect the greatest number of people.
For this reason, you must stay abreast of updates reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). These two resources provide up-to-date and groundbreaking discoveries in both the symptoms and spread of contagious diseases, but also the most effective known preventive measures.
This directly impacts you because your sales meetings will take place in medical offices. At work, your priority should always be ensuring the health and safety of your clients and their patients. Understanding how to prevent transmission of disease and demonstrating your passion for protecting and serving others is meaningful to your sales relationships.
2. Keep up-to-date on client expectations
Even though you’re following all CDC safety guidelines to prevent contracting or spreading COVID-19, don’t assume you’re automatically taking every measure expected by your clients.
Some healthcare providers require COVID-19 testing to confirm you’re negative for carrying the virus. They may need you to be vaccinated. Others could simply expect you to wear N-95 face masks. Or they may want you to access the facilities from a different entrance than their patients, where they can check your temperature and assure you sanitize properly.
These requirements will not only vary from office to office but may also change from day to day. In addition to checking online resources to confirm basic requirements for visiting the office, call ahead to determine if there’s anything you need to know on the day of your meeting.
Even more importantly, no matter how critical your sales goals are to hit, you should never keep any meetings if you or someone you know has been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19.
Gone are the days of muscling through an in-person sales meeting when sick! If you’re not able to make an in-person appointment because you’re feeling under the weather, try to arrange a virtual meeting during the same time slot. Your clients will appreciate you showing respect and taking extra precautions.
3. Have more than one sales plan
You may have to adjust your in-person sales meeting for several reasons. There could have been an exposure within the office, limiting your access. Your client may be unwell, or perhaps you need to request a virtual meeting instead. The meeting location may even change unexpectedly, limiting your access to Wi-fi or electricity.
As you return to in-person sales, be prepared for anything. This means having printed resources as well as making sure your devices are fully charged between meetings. Think through how you will present to clients under different circumstances so that you’re confident and capable of answering their questions (instead of focusing on troubleshooting the entire time).
One of the greatest sales skills you refined throughout the uncertainty of the pandemic has undoubtedly been your agility. Your ability to respond to change and overcome challenges to close sales in unique ways will push your career forward.