Don’t Forget the Value in Face-to-Face Meetings

Yes, we’re talking about physical, in-person, face-to-face meetings. And we can guess what you’re likely thinking. Why spend the time and money to meet in person when we’ve grown accustomed to nurturing and closing deals over the phone and with the help of email and other instantaneous forms of communication?

While you pose a good argument, we’d like to present a counter argument:

How many deals are you not closing due to lack of personal touch or perceived effort?

As a society we have strayed so far from the need for physical business interactions, the mere thought can shake us right out of our comfort zones. Don’t let it. When feasible, there is always room (and appreciation) for a good, old-fashioned handshake and the ability to look a prospect or customer in the eye. And sometimes, it can make all the difference in the world.

But, yes, the question then turns to logistics. When is it logical and feasible to schedule a face-to-face meeting?

Here are a few things to consider:

1) At what stage are you in the selling process?

If you’re in the beginning stages, a personal visit may appear intrusive or overly ambitious. Once you’ve laid the groundwork and established rapport, a visit could be a logical next – or even final – step.

2) What is the overall value of the sale?

Not just immediate value, but value for the long-term. If the customer could eventually yield recurring revenue for your company, it would be well worth your time and the cost of a plane ticket.

3) What is the personality of the buyer?

If your customer seems to be a warm and social person, all the better. But don’t count out the customer who comes off more shy – perhaps an in-person visit would be a flattering and welcomed change for them.

Once you’ve taken these factors into consideration and you feel there is value to be gained from an in-person visit, here are some possible benefits to doing so.

• If your customer’s product has a factory, it could be immensely helpful for you to get up close and personal to glean product benefits that aren’t tangible over the phone or online.

• If it’s a service they offer, the opportunity to see their service offering in action could be very helpful for you in identifying additional needs and opportunities.

• If your customer has someone he or she answers to, it could be helpful for you (and appreciated by your customer) to speak directly with a supervisor or board group. If you’ve been having trouble winning the executives’ time over the phone, showing up in person could make them take you and your company that much more seriously.

• In addition to meeting other stakeholders, an in-person meeting would allow you an introduction to other departments who may have use for your products or services.

• And lastly, your customer will begin to see you not only as a vendor, but as a person. In other words, you humanize the process.

So come on, put down the phone, close the email and crawl out from behind that computer monitor. There is a whole world out there of personal connections to be made – connections that customers will remember and appreciate more than you realize.