Businesses now communicate with customers and prospects in new ways as technology has advanced. Today’s sales reps use a variety of tools to accomplish their tasks, such as email, social media and video chat tools among others. Therefore, traditional in-person sales meetings have become less common.
However, even as the B2B sales process becomes increasingly digital, face-to-face meetings still provide certain benefits that no technology can replicate. In-person requests are 34 times more successful than those made over email, the close rate for in-person meetings is 57 percent, and executives and business travelers estimate that 28 percent of their current business would be lost without in-person meetings. While virtual communication is key, face-to-face meetings still hold the following advantages in the modern sales process.
1. Human connections fuel success
Best-in-class sales representatives have a thorough understanding of human relationships. The human brain is wired for connection and appreciation; we want to belong and feel valued. To build relationships and close deals, it is essential to understand what makes each person tick. Businesses need to remember that face-to-face sales are often the first time a customer gets acquainted with your brand, products, and services. Focus on a softer approach and less hard-selling, while emphasizing relationship-building. It is imperative to pay attention to potential customers’ wants and needs, identify common interests, and demonstrate empathy to put yourself in their shoes.
2. Clear communication of shared values
Shared values between consumers and brands help to establish concrete relationships. By authenticating your brand and promoting human connections, shared beliefs lay the groundwork for building connections. By engaging in face-to-face sales, prospects and customers can learn about your brand’s values directly.
3. Educate prospects and customers
Face-to-face meetings provide an excellent opportunity for salespeople to answer any burning questions a prospect may have about your products or services. Your field representatives must be armed with a wide range of knowledge pertaining to not just the products being discussed, but also your entire industry.
4. Build credibility and trust
Brands and companies who customers recognize, and trust are more likely to attract them as customers. Using face-to-face meetings to show how your product helps them solve their problems, wants and desires is crucial. As you learn more, your business will be better able to serve them – and you may even witness a lift in customer retention and brand loyalty.
5. Showcase complicated products or services
Do you recall the last time you were offered a free sample in your local supermarket? Customers are far more likely to purchase a product after seeing and tasting it, therefore supermarkets have mastered the art of demonstration. Taking the time to demonstrate your product allows prospects to learn how it will benefit them the most. Using face-to-face meetings to show how your product helps them solve their problems, wants and desires is crucial.
6. Eradicate technical difficulties and miscommunication
In some cases, technology improves communication efficiency during the sales process. In other cases, technology exacerbates the problem of poor sales communication. Any sale can, for example, be ruined by a dropped call or poor internet connection. Face-to-face selling overcomes these technical challenges, allowing salespeople to build real relationships with prospects. You’ll also be able to better measure prospects’ reactions by using body language cues.
Blending tech and a human touch
All in all, success in B2B sales means using all the methods available to you, and using them well. Technology should, of course, be used extensively when it is sensible to do so, but the value of face-to-face interaction can never be understated. At a time when societies and the world are opening up again, embracing in-person meetings is sure to yield success.
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Rod Tonna-Barthet is President & Chief Executive Officer at Kyocera Document Solutions UK