Here in this technologically advanced world, communication is, in many ways, easier than ever, but despite the pace of change meeting and shaking hands remains a fundamental part of business life.
When it comes down to closing the deal, still being able to look someone in the eye at a meeting remains the obvious way of getting the important things done.
Video conferencing and the phone can do a great deal in oiling the wheels of the sales process, but if there’s a big deal in the offing, then you really have to show up.
Phone calls are convenient, but they can be ineffective. By this, we mean your caller is more likely to be distracted by other things, be it co-workers, emails, or a million other things.
Of course, whilst Face Time, Skype etc may be useful it misses that connectivity that only being sat in the same room as others, face to face provides. Often it makes sense to meet even if there is more time, cost, and inconvenience involved and evidence supports this.
A 2010 study by Oxford Economics, a global research firm, showed business travel directly leads to an increase in both corporate revenue and profits. The study concluded that every US dollar invested in business travel results in $12.50 in added revenues and $3.80 in new profits.
The question is why is this?
Well, there are hundreds of books on the subject, but when it comes down to it, we humans are just social animals.
Of course, for us it’s all about body language, which plays a major role in our communication – it’s not what you say, but the way that you say it – be it facial expressions, posture and so on, it’s all vital in our decision making process and it’s just well, lost over the phone.
After all, we’ve all known conference calls, which have led to misunderstandings – either due to lack of communication or simply because it’s much harder to raise your hand on a video call than it is face to face.
When you are all in the same room, it encourages everyone to participate. You can’t just go sit in the corner and hide. Yet, you can do it metaphorically speaking on conference calls.
Also, face-to-face meetings tend to be quicker than conference calls. On the phone, everyone sits around on mute waiting for the discussion to end. This can happen in a meeting room. However, face to face situations give a greater pressure to get to the point and get the deal done.
This doesn’t detract from the obvious fact telephones, video conferences and email all have their place in this complex world, but in sales and in many other walks of business life to build relationships and make decisions you have to take the time to show up.