At the beginning of March 2020 our world changed radically from one day to the next. Almost all on-site seminars, conferences and workshops were cancelled. Lecturers and trainers in the field of education and training with a strong focus on in-class delivery became practically unemployed from one day to the next. Every sales force was sent home and had no more opportunity for customer visits.
We, Belcredi&Partner digitized our programs to stay close to our customers and our customers were able to stay close to one another and to us.
We have now gained three months of experience with virtual trainings using a wide range of digital tools. Belcredi&Partner is now drawing a first conclusion:
- With the technical possibilities and digital tools of various providers, good training and interaction are possible.
- Virtual meetings save a lot of money and time (including travel and event costs).
- But: Every video conference requires very disciplined work; the danger of distraction is extremely high.
- Most importantly – virtual meetings need structure, much more structure and preparation than actual face-to-face meetings. You need a script, a clear agenda and clear rules of conduct for the meetings.
Have virtual workshops and video seminars thus replaced the classic on-site seminar and the personal customer visit from today’s perspective in the long term?
We clearly say NO.
We recognise serious problems that we cannot solve with a video conference / virtual workshop and are convinced that this is not a generational problem.
- There is no personal relation to the participants – the meeting content is processed more or less automatically.
- Discussions only get going hesitantly. In addition, we know that participants are easily distracted by the parallel use of other media (including their smartphones) at home.
- The unspoken word, the body language cannot be recognized. Our brain is very strained to interpret facial features
- A high level of concentration is constantly required. After two hours at the latest, the participants are tired and often switch off or become even more easily distracted.
- Learning from one another is only partly possible. Interaction and questions become difficult. There are virtual break-out rooms, which are good, but the previous points also apply here.
We are convinced that face-to-face seminars, on-site workshops and personal customer visits will return. However, the mixture of on and off-site will be different. Virtual meetings and digital learning in particular work well when a basis of trust between workshop participants and trainers, customers and sales people etc. is already established.
What does the mixture look like? We think that 40 to 60% would be ideal.
In B2B sales, our specialty, digital customer visits will be an important addition. We can already see that the sales process will change significantly once again. There will be many more people involved, especially since virtual contact is much easier to establish.
Therefore, the quality of every real customer visit will have to increase. Every sales person will have only few opportunities to get to know his or her customer personally and at the same time must pay more and more attention not only to the content of the conversation, but also watch the body language of the individual participants in the buying center, identify who will take final decisions, etc.
For more information please contact us office(at)belcredi.eu