AICC’s Associate Members met under the big tent and socially distant at the Omni Amelia Island Resort in Amelia Island, Florida on Monday, April 26, the first time the group as met in person since the pandemic forced meetings over the phone and on Zoom. The last in-person meeting was at the AICC 2019 Fall Meeting in Toronto, when Joe Morelli of Huston Patterson gave a report of the declining attendance at Regional Summit Meetings. The recent Southeast Summit in Greensboro, North Carolina, last month, however, saw an increase in the number of box makers (customers) in attendance, when 20 members of a total 67 in attendance were from box plants. The previous Southeast Summit had only 15 box makers of a total 73 in attendance.
Morelli said AICC has been providing solid content at meetings and urged his fellow associates to continue urging their box making customers to attend.
Outgoing Chairman Pat Szany’s initiative over the past two years had been to communicate with box makers, understand their problems and to understand what they need. In the course of his communications, Szany conducted a survey, the results of which Morelli reported at the meeting: 90 percent of boxmakers are experiencing paper shortages, 80 percent of those are facing delays in other materials, 92 percent of box makers see their business growing in 2021, 46 percent of box makers are interested in making new equipment purchases in 2021, and 92 percent of box makers are still not allowing visits into their plants.
Morelli added some additional facts pulled from a recent AICC “Think Tank”: 70-80 percent of business-to-business buyers are NOT comfortable going back to in-person sales. They are more comfortable staying “virtual,” even though the pandemic is slowing. In addition, 70 percent of business-to-business decision-makers feel comfortable making purchases up to $50,000 without ever meeting their sales rep. Thirty percent of business-to-business decision-makers feel comfortable making purchases up to $500,000 without ever seeing a sales rep. And finally, 90 percent of decison makers believe that virtual interactions will continue in some way.
“We’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t look into blending virtual sales into our face-to-face relationship selling,” said Morelli.