Met with Barry a few months ago, a prospective vendor from a Milwaukee-area based company. Actually, it’s the third time in the past couple years he’s made a point to call a week ahead and asked for 15 or 20 minutes of my time. He swung by the office for a few minutes of face time to show me some of their latest B2B work that might have relevance to our clients’ needs—with a promise to be respectful of my time. I’ve never actually bought anything—as in awarded a project to him. Yet. But when the right one comes along, he’ll definitely get a shot.
There are at least a dozen local companies and probably more, that provide the same type of business services in our local market, Grand Rapids. Most of them are no more than 15 to 20 minutes away from our office, and yet most I’ve never actually met in person and none have ever actually paid a visit. Even when we’ve put a couple projects out for local bids, communication has been entirely by email and phone—with suggestions that I look at their work on their websites. (News flash. I already did. Before you ever knew I was looking. It’s why you got a call from us in the first place.)
Face Time Still Matters
Here’s the deal. Your Emails, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Tweets, blog posts, web content, etc. are all great. And an essential part of the mix to keep prospects (like me) informed and engaged. But whenever possible, a little face time still matters, too. The more zeros on the end of a project budget, the more vetting we do and the more I feel the need to work with someone I know or at the very least, have met. It’s that B2B buyers’ aversion to risk – a trust thing.
This blog post, Why Sales is Broken by Anthony Innarino, thesalesblog.com, has been around for a while, but it’s a favorite of mine. In it, he says, “There are some who believe that sales is broken because the Internet has made it so salespeople are no longer necessary. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Internet is a wonderful tool, like any other, but it isn’t a replacement for human relationships and the value that they can create. When “sexting” replaces actual sex, I’ll believe that technology has finally replaced human relationships. Until then, all things being equal, relationships win; all things being unequal, relationships still win.” Put’s it into context, doesn’t it?
In fact, new survey results from a Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs study, 2014 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, reports 76% of respondents rated in-person events as the fourth most used marketing tactic (tied with blogs)—but more revealing, for the fourth consecutive year, the majority (70%) ranked in-person events as the most effective B2B marketing tactic. Yes, we know in-person contact, be it sale calls, presentations, lunch and learns, trade shows etc., costs more—a lot more. But you better figure out when, where and how frequent it fits into the mix.
Anybody remember the classic 1990 United Airlines “Speech” commercial? I do and if you’re old enough, you probably do too. The one where the boss announces a major client loss and reinstitutes a “face-to-face” policy—then hands out airline tickets to the sales staff. Click on it, watch, and think phone, Email and texting when he says phone and fax.
I can’t say for sure if we’ll have a project Barry can help us with soon, but here’s a shout out to you, Barry. Thanks for stopping by. I’ve already shared your information twice now with colleagues looking for a recommendation for new vendors with credentials like yours.
(image courtesy of mdigroup)