Buy/Sell: The True Value of Face-to-Face Meetings

How many e-mails did you delete today without even reading them? How many times did you intentionally ignore a web ad by scrolling right past it? How many video ads did you skip as soon as you had the option?

The probable answers: A bunch, a bunch, and a bunch. I mean, they were just trying to sell you stuff…

But for those of us whose job it is to sell stuff, this trend is unsettling. The same techno-communications revolution that has allowed us to reach thousands of potential customers through mass e-mails, web advertising and social media has also made it easier for potential customers not to be reached. With a few clicks they can simply ignore or opt out.

So what’s a metalformer to do? In today’s increasingly-digital business environment, where can you get the level of undivided customer attention that email and social media just can’t match? Well, you can go grab the old-schoolers in your office and ask them, or I can just tell you: face-to-face meetings.

In terms of attention and engagement, a face-to-face meeting is leaps and bounds better than e-mail. “You are twice as likely to convert prospects into customers with an in-person meeting,” argues marketing guru Michael Massari in an interview with Forbes. “The likelihood of getting a ‘yes’ increases, because it is so much easier to say ‘no’ in an e-mail or on a phone call.”

Beyond this anecdotal evidence, a recent study covered by the Harvard Business Review found that when asking people to fill out surveys, “face-to-face requests were 34 times more effective than e-mailed ones.”

The advantages of face-to-face contact are evident, but, naturally, cost is a prohibitive factor. It’s much cheaper to send even thousands of e-mails than it is to meet face-to-face with far flung clients and customers. But the cost might be worth it. In today’s business world, undivided attention for your pitch and figures is a near priceless commodity.

You can cut the cost of face-to-face meetings by taking advantage of trade shows and industry events like PMA’s Sourcing Solutions on September 28 in Milwaukee, WI. Sourcing Solutions brings buyers and suppliers together for two days of connections, deal-making and networking—all done in-person. Save time and money by having several meetings in one day, all in one location. Registration and information are available at www.pma.org/sourcingsolutions.

And if you want to learn how to strike the right balance between the digital and the personal in your marketing and sales initiatives, consider PMA’s Manufacturing Sales & Marketing Summit, September 26-27 in Milwaukee, WI. Attend both events and receive a discounted rate. More information is available here.

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