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Why Face-to-face Customer Meetings are more productive

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In the Internet era, it still makes sense to travel to B2B Meetings

Virtual meetings are cost-efficient when it comes to meeting with clients, employees and business partners, even customers and in some scenarios, there may not be any other way around. However, there are limitations of virtual meetings as they do not meet the biological, psychological and emotional elements involved in meeting a person that not even the longest virtual call can fulfill. This is especially true with business to business (B2B) engagements. 

The larger the business opportunity, the greater the need to meet in-person. The meetings could include executives and experts from either side.  Rarely do businesses close large deals over the phone. And now many of these engagements happen at conferences, tradeshows, and roadshows, where birds of a feather flock together to do business.

While virtual meetings can disseminate a lot of information, businesses are built by people, who respond very differently to a face to face encounter. And the reasons discussed below are based on the inherent human nature.

Oxytocin needs a hand to shake!

Ever wonder what happens when you shake hands, which is customary at the beginning or at the end of a business meeting? Oxytocin is released, and this neurochemical creates a feeling of trust, respect, comfort, and safety. In a virtual meeting, the software or the phone shakes hands with its hardware counterpart, to form a trusting connection, leaving the humans out in the cold and lacking a sense of bonding.

You can fake emotional intelligence in front of a camera!

Imagine interviewing someone for a key position in your team. The importance of engagement is driven home quickly when employers recruit through online interviews only. When people are face to face, their emotional intelligence emanates through facial expressions and gives us a clue as to how well they can deal with challenges and get along with co-workers. Stress can also be picked up fairly easily during a business meeting, although the specific cause of the anxiety may not be immediately apparent. 

Grab attention through eye contact. 

Virtual meetings let the other person off the hook to wander through cyberspace, fix a coffee, even read a book as they program Alexa to keep saying “uh-huh and got that’. Meeting face to face keeps both or all participants in a conference or meeting focused on the subject and it is easier to conduct business. 

Virtual collaboration is a myth. 

Patchy network, lag in voice and the absence of a clear ‘meeting leader’ often leads to misunderstanding, escalation of small issues, diplomatic communication, awkward pauses all lead to inefficiency. Open communication and free speech happen in an environment of trust that is fostered through a handshake and eye to eye contact.

Unmask non-verbal cues. 

Body language is a sure sign of how you may need to tailor your pitch to your audience in order to keep them focused and interested in your presentation or idea. Your tone of voice, Q&A session, encouragement for participation and a coffee break are very important to foster creativity that leads to better business solutions. 

Building relationships, not virtual friends.

When you want to build a bond of trust and foster long-term relationships, there is no better option than an in-person connection.  Business outcomes depend on this and the larger the opportunity, the higher the expectations.

These are key to the long-term health of an organization’s business as well as to create teams within the organization that look after each other and continue to do the heavy lifting even in the absence of one or more team members. In fact, more millennials prefer face to face meetings with their colleagues and peers than GenX.

Create happy employees. 

When employees have access to their supervisors through ‘open door’ policies, they feel more ‘connected’ and believe that they are viewed as individuals and not merely as a statistic. 

Employees work better when they have a connection with their supervisors and are happier when they have friends at the workplace. Happy employees mean lower attrition and more productivity. Social Media friends are no substitute for lunch break companions.

Let us look at platforms such as LinkedIn, Skype, Zoom, Slack, Teams, G-sheets, and others as a means to facilitate networking – they are also critical to engagements. But this does not mean we stop the concept of a handshake, especially a relevant one, either. Millions of dollars are being spent on hosting and participating in events across the world with the express purpose of being able to ‘engage in dialogue’ to improve business prospects.

When you look at the sheer magnitude of such events, it becomes obvious that we still need to rely on technology to get us face to face with our real prospects, across a few hundred meeting rooms, booth walkthroughs, demo requests, training sessions, conferences, and introductory meetings.

Technology now exists to facilitate more, quality face to face meetings at scale – Meeting Automation Platforms (MAP). These take the manual drudgery out of sending out meeting requests, invitations, booking rooms and aligning calendars, managing logistics, checking-in attendees, and managing meetings. Companies that have used MAP have reported a 40% to 200% improvement in face to face meetings, resulting in a quantum leap in leveraged revenues and a clear focus on return on investment.

In order to get the Oxytocin flowing and to build better relationships with your customers, schedule a demo with our experts today.

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