I remember when people thought you were really crazy or strange if you dated or married someone you met online. Now people think it’s really strange if you meet someone by actually showing up somewhere in the flesh and shake hands and “do lunch.”
It’s the same thing with face-to-face sales. Everyone’s so busy tweeting, FaceBooking and meeting on LinkedIn that no one’s doing face-to-face sales, and man, are they missing out!
Actually getting to meet a live person you can do business with is like getting a home-cooked meal instead of a micro-waved mystery meal. Both will feed your stomach, but the real meal feeds your soul, your need for that personal touch. Face-to-face sales deals are the same way and some of us are starting to notice the trend of face-to-face sales numbers exploding because of their ability to influence people and close deals.
Other than the people who share your home or office, how often do you really meet new people, in person? Am I right? Since so few people do it, and they do it less and less, meeting someone new and being together face-to-face to talk business gives you a huge advantage over some blurry face on a flat screen television. Real people don’t have voices that echo, or drop out when you go through a “dead zone” on the way to the conference hall.
It makes sense. It’s Economics 101 — when a commodity becomes scarce, it increases in value. When basic face time with potential or existing customers dwindles, it becomes a scarce commodity, so its value increases. I don’t just mean monetarily. I mean in terms of social influence, trust and intimacy — all the things that have to be in place before you can make a sale. Skype is a good crutch in a pinch… but the experts assure me that getting a plane ticket and meeting the person still wins hands down over your one-inch high mug on a smartphone.
When we meet someone in person and shake their hand, see their smile, and get that solid gut feel about them, we build intimacy and trust. Which takes me back to the whole “dating” thing. Even when you meet someone online, the time comes, before you ‘seal the deal,” that you want to meet the person face-to-face before you go any farther. Business is no different. We do business with people we know, like and trust.
This is not a ploy by the hotel industry to get more people in their beds. Although they’re paying for some of the studies, like the Hilton Hotels’ study called “Why Face-to-Face Business Meetings Matter,” there are other studies too.
A new study by Oxford Economics, a global research firm, has shown that when companies cut their travel expenses and face-to-face time with potential customers, they’re cutting their own throat, er, profits, too.
The study showed that business travel directly leads to an increase in both corporate revenue and profits. For every dollar invested in business, travel companies gained $12.50 in added revenues and $3.80 in new profits. Try to make up that difference with tweets and FaceBook. Not going to happen.
It’s not just our cologne, the $100 we spent on teeth whiteners and the $50 lunches that convince people to buy more from people in face-to-face meetings. Psychologists and human behavioral experts all agree, we get more signals and information from people we experience in a three-dimensional realm — across the conference table, or at convention, or workshop or sales meeting — than we do in two dimensions via Skype.
There’s no better way to start a relationship, or close the deal on a sale, than doing it in person. That advice varies according to your industry of course, but stuff that requires personal interaction like coordination, consensus, timing and persuading others to do things, are better done in a group rather than on the company jumbo-tron. If you’re negotiating important contracts, interviewing important people for important positions, or being empathetic and showing your million dollar customers you really do care, is best done face-to-face.