The Role of Face-to-Face Interaction in the Modern Sales Process

face-to-face sales meetingsIt’s no secret, technology has transformed the way businesses communicate with customers and prospects. Modern sales reps rely on a variety of tools and technologies to conduct their work—including email, social media, video chat tools and more. As a result, the traditional in-person sales meeting has become far less common than it once was.

But, even as the B2B sales process becomes increasingly digital, face-to-face meetings still provide certain benefits that no technology can replicate. In today’s blog post, we explain why in-person interaction remains critical to the modern sales process and we offer several tips to make the most of face-to-face meetings. Let’s get into it!

The Benefits of Face-to-Face Interaction in Sales

In-person meetings may occur less frequently, but that doesn’t mean they’ve become any less effective. Consider these statistics:

  • In-person requests are 34 times more successful than those made over email (source).
  • The close rate for in-person meetings is 40% (source).
  • Executives and business travelers estimate that 28% of their current business would be lost without in-person meetings (source).

Though virtual communication has its obvious advantages, face-to-face meetings have several unique benefits. Let’s look at a few examples:

1. Build stronger personal connections.

A B2B purchase decision isn’t just about the products—B2B buyers want to buy from businesses they know and trust. It’s not impossible to build strong connections through virtual communication, but face-to-face meetings are inherently more personal.

By sitting down with a customer or prospect in person, you demonstrate you value their business by putting in the time and effort required for a face-to-face meeting. They’ll leave the meeting feeling like they got to know you and your company as people—which rarely happens in an online conversation. It’s no wonder nearly 100% of people say in-person meetings are essential for long-term business relationships (source)!

2. Avoid miscommunication and technical difficulties.

Technology may provide increased efficiency, but it leaves room for error throughout the sales process. How many times has a customer missed a crucial detail on a phone call, or had a connection issue derail an important conversation?

In-person meetings remove many barriers between B2B sales representatives and their customers. The sales rep has the customer’s undivided attention and can communicate information clearly and thoroughly—without interruption.

3. Present your product in person.

The most effective way to sell someone on your product is to put the product in front of them and let them interact with it. Product demos and free trials show prospects exactly what your product does and how it can alleviate their pain points. But, conducting a product demo via phone call or Skype session doesn’t compare to the benefits of a live demo.

When you give a remote presentation, you can’t always gauge a prospect’s true reactions—consider how often you mute your own phone during meetings or give a colleague a look of confusion. In person, these small interchanges are more noticeable—allowing you to address any hurdles as they arise.

5 Tips for Better Face-to-Face Sales Interactions

Of course, in-person meetings require more time and resources than virtual communication. So, you must be strategic with your approach to ensure you make the most out of every in-person meeting. Here are a few tips:

1. Be selective with your in-person meetings.

Before you agree to meet a prospect in person, make sure it’s the best option for the specific prospect in question. Don’t arrange a meeting before you’ve researched the prospect and are sure they will benefit from a face-to-face conversation.

The last thing you want is to meet with a prospect only to learn they aren’t a good fit for your product. For this reason, an introductory phone call or video chat might be necessary before you say yes to a face-to-face sit down.

2. Be candid and personable.

It’s important to strike the right balance between personal and professional. Face-to-face meetings give you the opportunity to get to know a prospect or customer, and vice versa—so capitalize on this opportunity by starting a relaxed, open dialogue where both parties can share whatever ideas are on their mind.

Before and after the meeting, strike up a light conversation about non-business related subjects. It might seem like meaningless small talk, but it can help make your connection to the customer more personal, and therefore stronger.

3. Set a clear agenda.

While casual conversations can be beneficial to business relationships, don’t let your meeting get off track or lose its structure. Prepare a detailed agenda prior to each meeting and outline important points ahead of time.

Be sure to share this agenda with the prospect beforehand so know what to expect. Always provide opportunities to ask questions, but don’t be afraid to reset if you stray too far from your agenda.

4. Be mindful of your body language.

Face-to-face interactions allow both parties to pick up on non-verbal cues and body language. You can use this opportunity to your advantage by adjusting your approach based on your prospect’s body language.

For example, If a person appears tense or stiff, introduce a more casual tone to help them relax. If they seem subdued or distracted, ask them additional questions to regain their attention before you discuss more vital information.

5. Be prepared to adapt.

Face-to-face meetings facilitate more natural, organic conversations—but that can backfire if you’re not ready to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. If the prospect stumps you with a question or voices an objection you weren’t prepared for, a meeting can quickly take a turn for the worse.

Adaptability in sales meetings won’t come naturally—it’s something you cultivate through extensive preparation. Study and practice your material ahead of time and more importantly, learn everything you can about the person you’re meeting with. The more you research each prospect or customer, the more prepared you’ll be able to answer questions, anticipate objections, and react to an unexpected turn.

Key Takeaways About Face-to-Face Meetings in Sales

Innovative technology is by no means a bad thing—sales professionals should continue to embrace the many different ways they can interact with prospects and customers. But, it’s still important to recognize when it’s time to set aside the phone calls and video chats.

As the old saying goes, people buy from people. An in-person meeting might not always be the most convenient option, but the extra effort is often worth it. For more sales advice and best practices, check out the following blog posts:

For more information about our B2B database, contact one of our sales reps today. ZoomInfo is the business solution you need to reach more prospects and convert them to customers.