In an age of social media and digital communications, we are continually assessing the need and benefits of meeting face-to-face with customers. The temptation to skip in-person meetings is compelling, since we now have continual engagement via social media and email, and a plethora of virtual meeting platforms make distance meetings painless and efficient, without the cost, effort, and time commitment associated with travel. So why bother hitting the road to go see customers? Research overwhelmingly suggests it is well worth our time and effort to get in front of customers. A terrific infographic produced by GreatBusinessSchools.org and featured on Virgin.com provides a treasure trove of statistics from multiple sources. Here are key findings for sales professionals:
- Face-to-face conversations tend to be more positive and perceived as more credible than online conversations.
- 95% say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships
Research also suggests a misalignment between our preferences and our practices. For example,
- 58% say they are traveling less for business purposes
- 59% say they are using technology more for remote business meetings
- Yet, 84% say they prefer in-person meetings
But travel is worth the investment‚
- For every dollar companies invest in business travel, the company receives a value of $12.50
When asked why they prefer in-person meetings, respondents said‚
- 85% build stronger, more meaningful relationships
- 77% ability to read body language and facial expressions
- 75% more social interaction, ability to bond with co-workers/clients
- 49% allow for more complex thinking
Our best clients tend to be the ones we see most frequently, face to face. A personal handshake, sharing a cup of coffee, and face-to-face conversation develop more long-term business than any virtual meeting, email or phone call ever could. When we are personally engaged and sharing a moment with a prospect or client, we are developing a friendship/relationship. We are no longer just vendors, or suppliers. We become the people who can help their business, and who bring value. By train, plane or automobile, we need to stay in front of our customers. It will be a key competitive advantage‚ if not for us, then for our competitors.
View the entire infographic here: