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Planes, Trains and…Zoom/WebEx Meetings – COVID-19 and Beyond (Part I)

For those of us in analytical sales, there was generally no better way of getting to know a person and a laboratory’s function and culture than a face to face meeting and a tour of the lab. Sure, a phone call or three as introductions but the real feel for the business relationship came from face to face meetings. Then, COVID came rushing onto the scene and things were temporarily pushed off…for months and months. Then reopening started to happen and now that is reversing a bit. Travel is just not what it was six months ago.
What is the new normal? Will things go back to how they were? While some of us in sales are chomping at the bit to get back on the road, others are far more hesitant. This makes sense as the risk of infection, family and so on must weigh in on everyone’s personal decision. Then, from the client side, some clients ask us to come see them as soon as possible, others say they want us onsite as soon as it is safe, whenever that may be, and some clients now essentially have a closed-door policy until given a green light.
As of today, our implementation team is traveling as required but are doing more remotely than prior. Our sales team is essentially grounded. The conferences we have historically attended are canceling or going online one after the next. At current rate, if any real sales travel happens for the rest of the year, it will be short, specific trips most likely. Maybe a conference or two at the end of the year however, that is looking more doubtful by the day.
So, ultimately, what will sales be like? Too early to tell however, if hazarding a guess, it won’t be like it was six months ago for a long, long time. Will marketing efforts take over some of sales territory in trying to gain new leads? Maybe? And, while companies may complain about a smaller sales funnel of leads, lets be honest, the travel budget reduction has made some accountants feel much better!
At HORIZON, like many businesses, we have been affected by the changes. Some effects are indeed positive, some negative. We continue to change how we are doing things to best meet the situation at hand however, like most others, have many questions on what is best. What comes next?
Personally, I liked travel. I’ve been traveling for work since the late 90s and honestly miss it. I’ve never necessarily have been good on the phone and always enjoyed face to face meetings. An ideal day was treating a client to Starbucks prior to the workday starting and taking someone to lunch later. I have always enjoyed walking through labs and getting a feel for both the place and the people working there. I miss it. I really do. I also enjoy being at home more and around my family. I have enjoyed learning more about marketing and doing some writing for HORIZON. I suppose it will all affect us in various ways as we sort through what is next, what is best for us and our families, and what is best professionally.
More about this in Part II tomorrow…