Face-to-face selling shows higher close rates, bigger deals
With all the digital platforms and virtual meeting tools available, meeting in person and selling face-to-face remain the most successful way of doing business.
Do people prefer online interactions to meeting in-person when doing business?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that all future business success depends solely on your ability to work from home or using digital platforms. We’ve all been forced to retreat into our homes these past few months while quite a few businesses have opted to switch to remote working on a permanent basis.
Companies that largely depended on field sales teams are wondering to what extent in-person meetings with customers or prospects are still necessary, or safe. People are becoming more comfortable making personal purchases online, and one might expect this to become the norm for B2B transactions as well.
Unless, despite buyers becoming more digitally savvy, the relational element in important buying decisions still trumps the transactional?
Earlier financial crisis suggests face-to-face selling remains the way forward
A Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey done after the 2008 financial crisis indicated that business leaders understood healthy relationships to be crucial to sustainable business success, and that these relationships depend on face-time with customers. It was interesting to learn that while digital communication like video conferencing, email and mobile apps were used by more and more businesses, over half of the survey participants still rarely or never used video conferencing.
Travelling to meet in person with key customers, partners and employees remained a priority, despite fewer available resources to do so. It was considered essential for selling new business as well as building and maintaining long-term relationships.
The benefits of face-to-face selling are still worth the cost
In the US, field sales reps – or ‘outside sales’ reps as they’re often referred to – make up 52.8% of the six million sales professionals. Field sales reps are increasingly working from remote locations or attending trade events as opposed to using an office as their base. They spend nearly half their time (45.4%) operating remotely (that’s an 88% increase from 2014!).
Whether they’re office-based or working remotely, the benefits of getting salespeople out there to meet with customers in person, remains significant.
While only 60.9% of sales professionals reach their annual sales targets, field sales reps have a 29.6% higher quota on average than inside sales reps.
Inside sales reps reach out to and connect with more leads annually by means of various media, but companies with a majority of their reps operating outside in the field, have a 30.2% higher close rate than companies with a majority of inside sales reps.
Deals worked by field sales teams tended to be 130.2% bigger on average than those worked by inside sales teams.
Balancing the personal with the digital
The trick is to find the perfect balance between using digital communication tools and continuing to connect with people in person. Apart from the necessity of face-time with customers, sales futurist Josiane Feigon’s research highlights that a blending of inside and outside sales professionals is how most companies move forward successfully.
It’s also important to have an inside team and a digital infrastructure to support your field sales team, helping them achieve those great results that are only possible through regular face-to-face interactions.