Seemingly overnight, the world moved indoors and nearly every industry shifted to a remote working environment due to the 2020 global pandemic. In fact, according to a Gartner, Inc. survey, 88% of organizations encouraged or required employees to work from home, regardless of whether they were showing COVID-19 symptoms. In addition, nearly all organizations surveyed (97%) canceled work-related travel.
As a result, medical and pharmaceutical sales reps had to re-evaluate their strategies on how to make a sales call. A survey by Accenture shared that before COVID-19, 64% of meetings with pharma sales reps were held in person. Consequently, when the pandemic struck, sales reps had to figure out a way to continue to meet clients’ needs when they could no longer see or visit them in person.
One fact is clear, the most agile companies continue to overcome sales challenges and improve on the customer and employee experience.
As we start to plan for a post-pandemic world with the recent roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, it is important that we continue to keep these alternative sales call strategies in mind when planning for the future. According to the above-mentioned Accenture survey, 87% of Health Care Providers want either all virtual or a mix of virtual and in-person meetings even after the pandemic ends.
Here are three ways to continue to make your sales calls valuable and meet sales goals against all odds:
1. Adapt to Alternative Meeting Locations
During the on-going pandemic, many of the typical meeting places such as hospitals and doctors offices were closed to visitors. As a result, sales reps had to get creative in thinking of places where they could safely meet with clients.
If faced with similar obstacles, this could mean relocating your sales call to parking lots and outdoor spaces. Think outside of the box to choose reasonable locations where you can safely meet clients. And remember to follow these helpful tips when meeting at an alternative location:
Have sales materials ready
Try to avoid presentation hang ups by preparing all materials and devices ahead. For example, if you are planning to do an electronic presentation, make sure all devices are charged. If you need WIFI, confirm you’ll have access beforehand.
In contrast, if you are unable to do an electronic presentation, have all your materials created, printed, and ready to go.
Before your meeting, create as many touchless options as possible. For example, send over materials such as patient pamphlets and product information before the meeting so there is less to transport and exchange when you meet.
Your clients are busy and so are you — make sure you maximize their time and yours by minimizing your distractions. For example, silence your phone, turn-off email notifications, and choose a spot that isn’t in a busy environment to avoid disruptions.
2. Prepare for Virtual Sales Calls
In 2020, we saw the rise of the virtual sales call. Platforms such as Zoom and Google Hangouts replaced the traditional in-person sales call meetings and we found ourselves innovating ways to close deals virtually. Of course perfecting your virtual presence is important, but also remember to follow these basic steps when setting up virtual sales calls:
Use an effective platform
Before heading into a virtual sales call, make sure your client knows how to use the video platform. If they don’t, take the time to create a quick tutorial.
In contrast, if a client suggests using a platform with which you are not familiar, be sure to go in before the sales call. Practice using the platform and learn what resources and the tools are available to improve your presentation and communication. For example, screen sharing, chats to send links, etc.
Practice makes perfect
Don’t go into a virtual call unprepared. Create an agenda and go over it to make sure you haven’t missed any vital information. Practice timing the presentation on the platform you plan to host your virtual sales call. Most importantly, be sure your presentation is optimized for all devices.
Have a back-up plan
Issues arise with technology that are just out of your control sometimes. Make sure you have a back-up plan so clients can still get the materials and information they need for their patients.
For example, if for some reason they can’t see your screen, have your presentation ready to send over to them via email so they can pull it up themselves. Don’t miss your opportunity to present valuable information because of technological glitch.
This bears repeating, it’s important to be present during a virtual sales call. It’s easier to become distracted when not face-to-face with your client. Minimize distractions by silencing your phone and turning off your computer notifications. Close out any windows you do not need open for your presentation and make sure you are connecting in a space that is void of disturbances.
3. Make Good Use of Communication Tools
Don’t be afraid to use your basic everyday communication tools such as emails, text messages, phone calls, and social media to connect with clients.
Remember, while these tools are how you typically communicate with friends and family in your everyday routine, it’s important to keep your tone professional while using these outlets with clients. Keep these tips in mind:
Creating a customized template to communicate with clients is an easy and efficient way to stay connected when you can’t meet in person. Be sure to keep a personable tone in your copy so that you don’t lose that personal relationship. Make sure all details are customized to the client’s needs and avoid making your email sound like a sales pitch.
No one likes receiving a novel as a text message. Keep texting short and professional is the best way to keep in touch with clients. If you need to send a text with a lot of information, set up a time to talk on the phone or schedule time to meet up or have a virtual meeting.
Before heading into a phone call with a client, set a clear expectation about what the call is going to be about. Remember to stay on-point and, if possible, create and send over any materials and resources beforehand so you can refer to the information during the call.
Thanks to today’s social media world, there are plenty of ways to stay connected with clients online. For example, LinkedIn is a great resource to reach out to clients. Don’t be afraid to send clients a message on social media to check-in.
When reaching out on social media, it’s important to remember not to SPAM a client’s inbox — you don’t want to overwhelm them with information, and you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons.