It still works – a face to face meeting with prospects is the most effective way to make a sale. It worked 50 years ago and still works today. Why is it so effective?
Relationships are key
Well into the 21st century, and, believe it or not, for B2B people still buy from people. Digital communications and Buyer 2.0 hasn’t changed that – if anything the deluge of information has made the importance of a business relationship even stronger. Why?
Relationships build trust and understanding, and both are critical to business success. You simply cannot get to a point of cultivating long lasting relationships and conducting meaningful conversations over the phone, by email, or waiting for well-studied buyers to come to you.
Why face to face works
- Value add – In an industry that has become commoditized and where price too often is the deciding factor, face to face meetings provide a golden opportunity to sell value. When a prospect or customer says, “Give me your best price” my reply is, “So I understand you are going to base your decision on lowest price and that nothing else matters.” Nearly all times they retract and say, “Well no”. That is your opportunity to value ad sell. I’ve heard it time and time again, where a prospect or customer tells me I have been the only one to talk about important business technology and aspects other than price.
- Advice – Face to face dialogues provide an opportunity to educate prospects on what to look for in competitive bids, so they are comparing “apples to apples.” When you do this you become the expert and build credibility.
- Simplifies complexity – When selling complex products or services face to face discussions provide the opportunity to create understanding of highly technical features. For buyers, trust and a relationship override analytics – they expect the data but want to trust the person they are buying from.
- Saves time – It takes buyers time to go outside their organization to hunt down information, shape their requests, and seek out resources. Face to face meetings with people who have a solution for their business problems save them time.
Before the meeting
People’s time is precious so you need to respect the time a buyer is giving you and be prepared for your meeting. Know exactly what you want to accomplish and what you need to do so the buyer feels their time was well spent with you.
Before your meeting sales reps need to do their homework:
- Spend time on LinkedIn researching the person you are meeting with and their company.
- Understand their business – Look at their website and do some research on their industry to understand the challenges they may face.
- Demonstrate your industry expertise – Send them blogs and/or relevant industry articles, preferably authored by your company experts.
At the meeting
The ability to read non-verbal body language is critical – 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by non-verbal cues. If you miss this you will miss crucial parts of the conversations that have the ability to impact a business deal.
Equally important is the ability to ask questions and listen. Active listening will lead you to ask more questions which give you the opportunity to provide the answers your buyer is seeking. Aim to provide understanding in your buyer.
Face to face meetings provide real benefits:
- You are twice as likely to convert prospects into customers.
- You are more likely to get a “yes” because it isn’t as easy for people to say “no” to your face (whereas it is much easier to say “no” in an email or on the phone).
- You can cultivate a relationship and build trust.
- High levels of personal interactions can lead to referrals.
We do business with people. That requires personal connections and building relationships. And there is no better way to do that than to focus on face to face meetings with your prospects and customers.