Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Half of salespeople have avoided virtual events in past year

Just over half of salespeople in the UK have attended a virtual event in the past year, despite many of the most popular events going online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research from customer relationship management (CRM) platform HubSpot.

The ‘Sales Enablement Survey: Virtual selling – the new opportunity for your sales team’ report found that 49% of UK salespeople are yet to attend a virtual event since the start of the pandemic.

However, there is a big disparity in virtual event attendance among different age groups, with 76% of 18- to 40-year olds having attended a virtual event compared to 42% of over 55s – proving there may also be an appetite for virtual and hybrid events, particularly among younger people, beyond the pandemic.

Pre-COVID, over 55s’ most preferred method of communicating was face-to-face in a formal business environment and, as a result, the older age group has had to have the biggest attitude change, increasing texts by 7%, WhatsApp usage by 6%, and email usage by 9% to continue effectively selling.

There are also clear differences between the preferences of male and female salespeople, with 57% of men preferring in-person meetings at events, compared to 48% of women. Likewise, 36% of men favour meeting potential customers in less formal settings, such as bars, compared to 28% of their female counterparts.

Moreover, women tend to favour written communication, such as email, text, and instant messaging, over verbal communication. Phone calls were found to be popular with 67% of men and 53% of women.

“Although the pandemic has made face-to-face meetings much less common, it’s interesting to see young people and women were less affected by this change as these groups already favoured more text-based ways of communicating. In terms of how people communicate, the pandemic has created a somewhat more level playing field across the board,” said Crevan O’Malley, Sales Director, EMEA Direct at HubSpot.

“With hybrid and remote working looking increasingly likely to be here to stay, virtual and hybrid events are expected to play a big role in the ‘new normal’ which will potentially allow more people to attend. For instance, female colleagues seem to find virtual events, especially webinars, more engaging to a greater extent, so we’ll likely continue to see a mixture of preferences in the virtual space in years to come.”