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Is Face-to-Face Selling an Effective Field Sales Technique in a Digital World?

Posted 2 Thu Sep

At the beginning of 2021, 4.66 billion individuals actively used the internet worldwide, a whopping 59.5% of the population. In the UK alone there are now 65.32 million active internet users, which is an even more staggering 96% of the overall UK population. Additionally, the pandemic created the biggest surge in digitalisation the world has seen. So, is there still a place for face-to-face selling in an era when the majority of the population is at our fingertips?

In this article we explore the place face-to-face selling has post-pandemic in 2021 and beyond, we discuss best practices and share our top tips for effective face-to-face field sales.

Here at Instore, our expertise lies primarily in the grocery and convenience sector. We have insight into the day-to-day running of multi-national brands, the UK’s largest retailers, and the one-man bands. It’s an industry where we work with large corporations who have multi-tiered management structures one day, to small, independent, privately-owned corner shops and convenience stores the next. We work with brands to sell their products across this broad spectrum of retail environments and it’s this ‘variety’ that gives us the understanding of appropriate sales strategies.

It’s this experience, which we have gained over our 21 years within the field sales industry that has shown us how face-to-face selling, now, more than ever, has a place within field sales strategies. We’ve seen a wide scope of retail landscapes from back in the year of the second millennium when the internet was young and there was just a measly 361million internet users worldwide, who were all experiencing the horror of the dial-up modem connection sound. During this time, face-to-face selling was a major part of everyone’s field sales strategy. Fast-forward over the next two decades and many brands have utilised digital strategies, including e-commerce sites, social media and search engine marketing to sell more products to more end-users. However, the landscape is changing again, bringing with it more opportunities for marketing and sales.

Now, in 2021, we feel we are faced with three factors that are having an effect on the current and future sales landscape:

  1. A crowded digital space – with so many companies adopting a digital strategy, how do you now stand out? Digital strategies enable you to target a mass audience but are sometimes limited in their targeting and selection. With field sales, your messages are going directly to your target audience.
  2. A socially deprived society due to lockdown restrictions – The coronavirus pandemic bought about lockdown restrictions which resulted in us being more socially deprived than we have ever been. Now individuals are craving an experience. They’ve missed the ambiance of retail stores. They’ve been forced to shop online and now they’re eager to resume their ‘normal’
  3. A haulage crisis affecting end-user deliveries – With the adoption of digital and the creation of an ‘I want it now’ culture, we are seeing a crisis within the haulage industry by way of a major shortage in delivery drivers. This shortage will have a knock-on effect on delivery times, resulting in the end-consumer visiting stores as opposed to waiting for delivery times. Is now a time to revert back to a delivery mechanism of one-to-many as opposed to one-to-one?

If these three factors alone aren’t reason enough to adopt a face-to-face selling strategy then take our word for it, ‘people buy people’, they always have and they always will.

For example, in the convenience sector, where independent storeowners don’t always have a guaranteed monthly wage coming in and don’t know what one day from the next will bring. These individuals are astute business people, BUT, they have a high-risk business to manage. Therefore, it is essential they trust the person selling to them.

Not only that, their stores are open long hours, and if they’re not in the store serving customers, they’re out and about getting immediate supplies. They’re time-poor and need suppliers they can rely on.

These are just a few factors that make face-to-face selling an ideal selling technique when looking to supply your products to this market.

So, if you’re convinced face-to-face sales are for you, follow our top tips:

  • Research, research, research! Make sure you’re talking to the right person and you’re solving a solution for them. As they say, knowledge is power!
  • Keep your meeting concise, we’re all busy, don’t take up too much of your potential client’s time.
  • Take samples, literature and visual prompts to your meeting. Not everyone digests information by being spoken to, so give them tactile objects, and reading material so they can recall you when they need you.

Here at Instore, we’re allied with Smiths News, the UK’s largest magazine and newspaper wholesaler, this gives us the insights, contacts and distribution network required to target and sell to the retail and convenience sectors. If this is something you need help achieving, get in touch today.

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