Building Relationships During COVID-19
- June 18, 2020
- Posted by: Management inSites
- Categories: Insites, Marketing
As many salespeople know, travel restrictions and the need for physical distance due to the COVID-19 pandemic have meant reimagining what building and maintaining relationships look like. As previously addressed, some digital trends (virtual meetings, e-documentation, and online ordering) have been ramped up even further as a result. The disruption to sales and marketing activities as a whole has meant the need to:
- Develop effective interactive sales presentations on video conferencing platforms;
- Emphasize solutions to customers’ problems, not just focus on a product’s characteristics; and
- Redirect “typical” marketing dollars (i.e. trade show expenses) to support a bigger digital strategy.
These are all important pivots. Yet, often what is lost is the reminder that your customers are people, first and foremost. And not just that, but people who are also struggling through this pandemic in myriad ways. This post brings us back to one of the fundamental things that makes a good salesperson–their ability to connect with their customers.
How salespeople did this in the past varies given the industry and their likes and interests. For example, customers could be taken to lunch, dinner, or the bar, where discussions could veer in a multitude of non-work directions. Or, perhaps, relationship-building took place on the golf course; at a football, basketball, or baseball game; or during a hunting or fishing adventure. Social distancing and travel restrictions may make these impossible in the near and distant future.
While we do not yet have all the answers on how relationships can be built virtually, we have ideas. As a starter, we suggest instituting a rule to set aside the first few minutes of any meeting or email to check in with the person on a personal level. Find out how their family is doing, how their week has been, how they spent their weekend, and more. During this time, find out what you have in common. For example, if you are both gamers, what games do they play? Can you invite them to virtually hang out with you after work or on the weekend while you both play Fortnite? Other virtual boding activities include:
- Film appreciation – create or join a virtual watch party.
- Card/board games – start a Chess with Friends match (or any other online game platform).
- Food – teach them how to make one of your family’s recipes.
- Wine – start a virtual wine club where you try different varieties and compare.
- Books – invite them to your virtual book club.
- Sports – virtually watch a match (or an old one) together.
You can also switch to a more friendly means of communication. For example, texting was once primarily used for personal communication, but it is becoming more widely used among professionals. Sending a quick, “Did you see that game?!” – or a similar type of message given the identified shared a common passion – is an easy way to genuinely communicate with someone no matter how close or far they are from you.
We should all go above and beyond to create real relationships – those will be the customers that will stick with you through thick and thin.