Warren Buffett + Airlines = Big changes in sales.
Warren Buffett held the first digital version of the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting yesterday, and as per usual, there were plenty of notable quotes. But the biggest bomb he dropped relates directly to those us in B2B Sales:
Buffett confirmed that he has sold his entire position (over $7 Billion+) in the airline industry under the presumption that: "In the next 3 or 4 years, I don't know that people are going to fly as many miles as they used to."
For those that have been following Bravado's official position on in-person interaction and sales, we have been predicting a massive shift from offline to online coming to B2B commerce for years. Our rationale was simple: It is cheaper for a business to sell remotely than pay up for airlines, hotels, dinners, entertainment, etc. Eventually, the CFO always wins over the CRO. Companies will always embrace a cheaper alternative, while finding novel methods to narrow the experience gulf. Always.
Of course, no one saw a pandemic coming to hasten the death of in-person sales. But now that we are in this new reality, the signs seem clear: in-person sales may never come back. Conferences may never come back. The entire fabric of how we build relationships with our customers has changed in the blink of an eye.
If you are a VP Sales or Sales leader at your company, you've got some big decisions to make when modeling out the rest of your year. Do you bake in any possibility of in-person client meetings? Historically, those have netted the largest deals in the shortest time frame. As someone who spent years doing enterprise sales, I understand the appeal.
Hop on a plane in the afternoon.
Take the Executive Sponsor + team out to a big happy hour / dinner / post-dinner-festivities.
Meeting the next morning to get deal closed.
Fly back by lunch.
I've made many of these trips to some of the best restaurants in SF, NYC, London, Seattle, Chicago, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Toronto, Dubai, etc. Approximately 112,718 miles/year worth for the past 12 years!
But the likelihood that I get on a plane for the rest of 2020?
5%. Or less.
What about you?
After we open the country back up, what will be your position regarding travel to clients? I'd love to get a sense of where the rest of the sales industry's head is at on this topic.
Should we be marking this as the end of air travel in sales? Or does someone here want to bet against the Oracle of Omaha?
Drop your thoughts in the comments. Would love to hear from you all!