Ep 38: Relationship Building with Events and Virtual Meetings

BuzzSprout Audio

“People talk to each other more politely and communicate better when they are in front of somebody, even if it is digital.” – Taylor Barnes



Josh Sweeney: Hi, my name is Josh Sweeney, joined by my co-host, Taylor Barnes, Taylor, how are you?

Taylor Barnes: Josh, I’m a little emotional.

Josh Sweeney: Emotional?

Taylor Barnes: I’m not going to lie. I am I know you weren’t expecting that, but I’m emotional

Josh Sweeney: Yeah.

Taylor Barnes: Because it is really tough for me right now to build some of these relationships without having a reason to go see my people having a reason to go see some customers. So I’m just feeling a little emotional.

Josh Sweeney: I feel like you could get a little down on yourself if you don’t have all those friends to interact with.

Taylor Barnes: I know, I agree, I’m very, very emotional when it comes to that.

Josh Sweeney: So that leads us to our Sales Leadership Challenge. So we know the events will slowly come back, but how do you build relationships until then?

Taylor Barnes: And I think I’m over it, thank you, Josh, I just

Josh Sweeney: Good.


Building Relationships Without Sales Events

Taylor Barnes: Needed to get through that and getting into it, you’re exactly right. Now, how to build relationships without events, right? So let’s be clear on what we’re talking about with events. When we say events, we mean, you know, organized places that people go to get together, whether it’s a simple meeting, whether it’s a conference, whether it’s a networking event, a chamber, what have you. A lot of people, when they think of the word networking, they go to relationship building. And a lot of times networking and relationship building are going to be at places that congregate with lots of people. And so nowadays, as you can imagine, it’s challenging to get a lot of people into the same room together. Conferences have been, you know, removed, postponed, or, you know, meetings are mostly virtual at this point. I mean, hell, it’s even when you are in person, you have to sit across the table and, you know, you can’t shake hands and things like that. So the challenge that Josh mentioned, that events will come back, they will it’s going to eventually come back. But until then, how are you building relationships? So I think, you know, just kind of getting into some of the reasons. I think it’s because people really have an issue doing what they know best, networking and relationship building The history of how they’ve done that before have been at events with people, with a large number of folks. And so I think it’s one of the reasons that people have a tough time building relationships nowadays.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I mean, so many people think about events as just this thing you’re showing up to listen to. But most businesses get so much from events and have lost that, right. You get the networking you’re doing, dinners you’re using. And more specifically, given our sales topic, I mean, you’re using those to network with clients. Any time you fly out to a conference or events, you use that as a reason to reach out to other prospects and go visit them locally because you’re like, hey, I’m going to be in

Taylor Barnes: Exactly.

Josh Sweeney: I’m going to be in New York in your area. You know, I’d love to get coffee while I’m there. I’m only going to be there for these times. Do those work? So you use them to create other relationships and sell more visit partners up. So there’s like all kinds of things that go into events more than just the event that affects how we sell, how we sell, and how sales leaders work with their people.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, you’re exactly right, how many times have you heard that, that you go to a conference? Well, that’s just the reason to go.

Josh Sweeney: Right.



Alternatives to In Person Events

Taylor Barnes: You know, it’s not it’s not like you’re going because I need to be there at 8:01, to 6:01 p.m. I mean, just say the entire thing, because I’m getting so much out of the conference and, you know, not not to not to crap all over conferences. There’s a lot of great new ones out there. But to your point, there’s so many other reasons they’re there is when when we go out to conferences, for instance, we have specific targets of people, specific targets of organizations, and we want to have sidebar with them. We want to get to know them, you know, learn about their struggles, learn about what they’re seeing there in the marketplace. Or, you know, if we’re in a city where we’ve got a lot of prospects and we’re going to a conference that’s in downtown, well, we want to make sure that they know that we’re in town so we can go see them to to eventually build a relationship. So these events go way more than just the actual event itself. It’s all the side effects of what happens because of the event. And I think when people are not able to do a lot of those things, you know, they find it very challenging to to either enforce or build or expand on the relationship that they either have or that they want to build.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I mean, there’s there’s just so many things that go into those events and that help build those relationships, like you said, I know, you know, we worked with a client and did a private event dinner. So everybody goes out and they get to invite them to this private dinner. And it’s some prospects and some customers and they get to do the do that event and and show appreciation and meet others and network and things like that. So the question is, is how do we build relationships without these events? What are some of the solutions to these challenges that we’re having where we leaned on all these events to build relationships and partnerships and so on? What do we do now?


To Zoom or Not to Zoom?

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, and if you’re not already on this boat, I would recommend getting on the boat, you have to lean into technology. And I’m not saying it’s the most personal way of building a relationship, because we all know that face to face and handshaking and getting, you know, some dinner or drinks together is a great way of building relationship. But this is a very reasonable solution when it comes to continuing the prospect or continuing to build that relationship, lean in to the technology. You know, it’s better than nothing. So having a digital presence, having a face to face, even if it’s over a screen requiring the video to be on, I’d highly recommend that for everybody out there that’s listening. A lot of people. Josh, I still see it. I saw it this morning. You know, we have you know, we had 20 or 30 people on a steering committee call and I had three people showing video.

Taylor Barnes: Right. And, look, I. I get it right. We’re at home. It’s easy to be relaxed and casual and all that. And maybe you’re very effective when it comes to working from that. But here’s what’s not effective. I can’t see you. I can’t read your reactions, I can’t sense your body language if you’re upset, the only way that I’m going to know that is on your voice. But how many people do we know out there that tend to kind of just avoid conflict? Well, it’s not as easy to avoid conflict. If I can see you and I can see your body language and I could see how you’re reacting to some of this information. And now all of a sudden, I’ve got an opportunity to make sure that you’re comfortable with either the solution or what I’m saying or ask questions or what have you. So leaning into technology requiring the video to be on, I think that’s really, really important. And as a leader, you need to evangelize that concept, OK? It’s one of those things where, yeah, we use Zoom, but we don’t throw the video on. Well, that’s a phone call, guys and girls. OK, so just just lean into the technology, do as much as you can in that regard. Easiest and most practical solution versus being face to face.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I like that one, we’ve actually gone so far as to mandate it and say any meeting you’re on, your video needs to be turned on. If you’re on our side, if you’re in our company. The video has to be on. I don’t care if the client turns it on or not.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, right.

Josh Sweeney: We would prefer that they do. But we’re going to have ours on. And what I found out about that is a couple of things happen. One is we’ll have prospects get on and say, oh, well, you know, I just thought this was a phone call, like, no problem. We just like to have these Face-To-Face conversations. If you’re available to turn your video on. The other thing is, is by turning yours on, it oftentimes makes them feel like they need to turn their’s on.

Taylor Barnes: Yes.

Josh Sweeney: You know, so it’s a little bit of this subconscious factor where it’s like, oh, well, I went ahead and turned mine on. If I get on and it’s not on, they easily go. Theirs isn’t on. Mine’s not on.

Taylor Barnes: Mm-hmm.

Josh Sweeney: We’re having a phone call. Right.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: We’re just doing it over Zoom. And that doesn’t create a better relationship. Like like you said, we read body language, you know, relationships. People talk to each other more politely and communicate better when they’re in front of somebody, even if it is digital.

Taylor Barnes: Great point.

Josh Sweeney: When I can see Somebody, you know, there’s all kinds of factors that happen. So, yeah, we just went, like you said, lean into the tech, you know, figure out how you can use it to build a relationship instead of just execute the action.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.



Being Passionate Remotely

Josh Sweeney: You know, I don’t need to just execute the action and present this data to you. I need to do that and build a relationship with you. So if I can talk to you and I can be excited about things and I can show excitement on that Zoom meeting and still be passionate and they can see my passion, it’s going to go a long way.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, yeah, I really just I was just kind of laughing to myself, I mean, I will tell you that I bet and luckily lately we haven’t we haven’t really experienced too much of this, but everybody has been involved in that escalation call where that guy and the other girl on the other end is a hothead and they’re screaming, I will promise you it is harder for them to do that if they can see your face. OK, so if you want to maybe give them the ability to soften the blow, turn on a video. That’s a really good hack. Josh, I like that one.

Josh Sweeney: Oh, yeah.

Taylor Barnes: Actually I’m actually going to send that exact example out there. That’s pretty good.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, there’s definitely an escalation there, right? Like when you see the people, it’s a big social media thing, right? Like people wouldn’t say that on social media if they were standing in front

Taylor Barnes: Exactly.

Josh Sweeney: Of you. And then and then some people soften that up. You know, it’s like that’s the most extreme version. And then you got the phone where people can’t see you.

Taylor Barnes: Hmm.

Josh Sweeney: But then when they can see you as normally when they are, they’re most composed self, because it’s a lot harder to look you in the eye

Taylor Barnes: That’s it.

Josh Sweeney: And say the things that they were going to type.

Josh Sweeney: It’s a horrible human nature distinction, but it is what it is.



Building Professionally Intimate Relationships

Taylor Barnes: Yes. Well, that’s exactly right. You know, it does something to the relational circuits in your brain when you can see a human being, trust me, on that one guy that comes from a behavioral scientist, which I’ve learned a lot about recently, that’s very important. Put the video on. I guarantee it will help. You know, another solution, Josh, I think, is, you know, coordinating smaller, targeted events. So naturally, when we go out there to these events, we want to you know, we want a sidebar as much as possible. We want to make the most amount of impact with a smaller group of people because there are thousands of folks. They’re pretty tough to make an impact of all thousand. So you go there, you target your specific amount of people. Well, there’s no reason you can’t do that. You know, potentially what technology. Right. So you could coordinate smaller targeted events and increase intimacy. I mean, and this doesn’t all have to be about business, guys. It doesn’t people tend to use like the Zoom’s and the teams and the web is strictly for business. Well, look, how about you tell somebody at five o’clock, hey, here’s a Zoom invite, bring a drink, here’s a zoom invite in the morning, bring a coffee and just talk and get to know each other.

Taylor Barnes: And you can really increase the intimacy the smaller that you get. I know we’ve all been on those Zoom invites and those teams where you’ve got 50 and 60 and 70 people and a billion little faces all over your screen. Look at those that are effective when it comes to creating mass messaging, marketing, et cetera. But as a sales leader, as a sales individual, if you are trying to increase, your efficiency or your effectiveness within a smaller group of people won’t bring two to three folks on to a meeting like that and maybe make it a little bit, you know, just be creative with it doesn’t have to be all business and prospecting. It could create you know, you could create some intimacy by having a coffee, having a drink and, you know, just kind of got to being together, for lack of better words, virtually.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, and a lot of the events, I mean, were large events or many people, you know, things like that, and what we found is like we switched over. We do an event called Founders and Brews, where once a month founders get together at a different local brewery. And even though, like we’re in this Covid situation right now, we found that there’s a lot of these places that have outdoor patios. They’re taking a lot less people in so we can spread out. They’re giving us

Taylor Barnes: Mm-hmm.

Josh Sweeney: A table

Josh Sweeney: They’re giving us a table that used to fit 20 is now for, 10. And there’s a certain number of people that are ready to get out. Right. They’ve already been through it. They already have antibodies. They’re willing to wear a mask, but they want to get out because they need some human interaction, know there’s all kinds of middle ground. And so we ended up just coordinating our own event, whereas we would have leaned on that many other events that we went to

Taylor Barnes: Mm hmm.

Josh Sweeney: Before, you know, like TAG Technology Association of Georgia or the Chamber of Commerce and any other thing that we would have gone to and attended. And we had to say, well, if those aren’t happening, what can we do? What can we do to continue to build relationships and smaller, more intimate events where people feel safe, you know, was just another option for us.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: And so the other thing that is a solution to the relationship building, I think is one thing that’s near and dear to our mission is as a salesperson, we want to create what we call reasons to engage. So what are we doing to build the relationships and provide those people a reason to engage with us? Can we bring them a book? Can we mail them something? Can we invite them one of these small targeted events? Can we do you know, instead of a webinar, can we do a digital panel? You know, can we find ways that we can engage them in a relationship other than just to try to sell them or close them? And so those are just other unique ways that we’re looking at to start the relationship and build better long term relationships in lieu of what we would have done with events.



Engaging Relationships With a Purpose

Taylor Barnes:  It’s a great, great call or having a reason to engage and maybe a shared reason to engage, one of the things that I’ve seen recently is, you know, especially in the B2B world is around, you know, potentially a great book or an article that, you know, hey, hey, would you like to read this together and then come back together and then just bounce ideas off each other? Would you like to, you know, read this book? Let me know. Your thoughts are here’s what I got from it and, you know, here’s whatever it is. And and now you’ve got a reason to engage and just and just again, to kind of virtually hang out. People tend to really lean into. Well, the reason that I engage is to make a sale. The reason that I engage is to further along this opportunity to get from 50 percent to 90 percent. And look, I agree that we have a goal of converting deals. OK, I get it. But what I will say is that it is a transaction. And if you build your relationship based on transactions, that’s very, very short term. You’re going to have to find a way to engage and get creative because your relationship needs to be considerably more than a transaction where you’re going to have a very tough time in sales because you’re going to have to find a new person every time and a new transaction every time.

Taylor Barnes: And that’s just not going to be it. So make sure that you’re finding creative ways to engage and then create a reason and a platform and a time and a whatever it is to get together and do that. That goes without saying that will always build the character of your relationships. And I know I’ve said it on this podcast before, character will always outweigh circumstance. So if you’re having an issue or an escalation or a supply chain problem or, you know, you didn’t get something approved on time, whatever the situation is, if they go back and remember your character, which they will only learn about through engagement like this that we’re talking about, well, it’s going to then they’re going to be like, well, I know Josh. I know Taylor. I know John. I know Christine. And they are good people and I’m willing to give them another shot. I’m going to give him some grace. I’m going to give them, you know, another are going to hear their side of the story instead of that transactional person who said, I’ll get it there tomorrow. They don’t know him and all of a sudden they just fired the brand new vendor. You know,

Josh Sweeney: Right.

Taylor Barnes: It’s one of those things where character will always outweigh circumstances and finding reasons to engage like this without events. I understand that they’re more challenging, but it really needs to come down to how creative and how willing are you to engage in different ways to make sure that you’re continuing the relationship building.



Question to Sales Leaders and Listeners

Josh Sweeney: Most definitely. So with that, we have our final question to our sales leaders and listeners out there, and it’s what are you doing to proactively build relationships without events?

Taylor Barnes: And this has been Purpose-Driven Sales with Barnes and Sweeney now go lead on purpose!

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