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The new reality is not the same as old world.

The virtual is here to stay.

Some are very happy about it; others aren’t.

As the world starts reopening again, and we’ll be able to meet clients in person, some will decide to stay exclusively virtual, others will want to go back to “the way things were” and the majority will opt for the hybrid model – i.e. to do some virtual meetings and some in person.

The question now is: how to succeed in the hybrid model?

This is a topic I’ve been discussing with my clients for some time and I thought I’d share with you the steps to achieve this.

  1. Define your vision for the future

When I ask “why did you become an entrepreneur?”, the answers I get most often are “for the freedom” and “to be free to do things my way”.

What I find particularly interesting is that we became entrepreneurs for the freedom it gives us, and simultaneously created a golden cage for ourselves… “I have to meet all my clients x times a year”, “I have to work at least one night a week” and other such statements.

And now: “I have to go back to the office”, “I have to meet in person”, …

Who said that? These beliefs are not absolute truths! I know entrepreneurs who never go to the office, entrepreneurs who are 100% virtual, hyper productive teams in all virtual mode. All formulas are good and you’ll find success stories in all business models.

The question to ask ourself is: what type of model do you want to build: virtual, in-person, hybrid, working two days at home and three days in the office? Great, you’re the boss!

Define what you want and decide to implement that model.

  1. Restructure your client meeting plan

In light of Step 1, go back to the drawing board and restructure your client meeting plan. What do you want to offer: a hybrid model for your “A” and “B” clients and a completely virtual model for your “C” clients? One type of meeting in person and the rest virtually? Great, you’re the boss!

Define what you want and decide to implement that model.

  1. Communicate with your clients

Even if you’ve decided to return to in-person meetings, it doesn’t mean that your clients are ready (or interested) to do so – same if you decided to keep a virtual component.

Back to in-person

Some clients will be happy to see you “in the flesh”, but not all. Be conscious that some of them won’t be comfortable, for various reasons, to meet you in person. Lending an open ear and showing sensitivity and empathy on this point is crucial. How do you offer an in-person meeting while showing openness on your part? With an open-ended, non-directed question, like: “Would you prefer an in-person meeting or a Zoom/Teams meeting?

Let your client choose (obviously, according to your new client meeting plan). You don’t want to “force” an in-person meeting on a client who’s not comfortable meeting you in person. Empathy, openness – two qualities to exhibit now more than ever.

Change of service plan

You’ve decided to change your client meeting plan to replace some in-person meetings with virtual meetings? Be transparent with a sentence like: “I suggest that we meet once a year in person to do a complete overview of your affairs and quarterly via Zoom/Team to adjust your affairs and take stock. What do you think?”

Take a stance with your clients and you’ll be surprised how well your message is received, much better in fact than you might have expected.

Going virtual

You’ve decided to keep the virtual meetings? Show your clients the benefits in it for them! Here are some sentences I like to play with:

“This way you won’t have to come downtown/travel”.

“This way you won’t have to worry about the house being tidy or whether there’s coffee ready!” (obviously this one is to be used with humour!)

“It’ll be quicker and easier.”

“We’ll be able to adjust the plan/strategy on screen, in real time.”

The key to a successful hybrid business practice is to start by positioning yourself – if you’re convinced, you’ll be convincing.

Then, take the time to understand where your client with everything that’s going on, listen and empathise with them.

Finally, communicate in the most effective way for your clients. I always say “everything can be said, it’s how you say it that matters”.

We ourselves, our team and our clients can benefit from a hybrid model. The way to get there is simply only requires that we get it right.

When we position ourself and communication with conviction, we see that… …

Sara

It’s always great pleasure that I read your comments, you can always get to me here and stay in touch via the following media : LinkedInTwitterFacebook, YouTube and now Instagram.

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