Teleconferencing and video chatting may be convenient and effective ways to do business but nothing seals the deal quite like a face-to-face meeting.
Lasting business relationships are built over time by a sincere commitment and investment in the customer.
Technology has radically changed workplace communications, including conferencing by telephone or video, Google Hangouts, Skype and webinars. These are great ways to stay on task, follow up on projects or reach a broad audience.
But the benefits and level of confidence that in-person meetings produce just can’t be replaced by technology, according to a Harvard Business Review survey of 2,300 subscribers.
“Face-to-face meetings are a key factor in successfully building and maintaining long-term relationships, reflecting what many executives call the “high impact” of in-person communication,” the report states.
To put it another way; you may be selling a product or service, but the customer is really buying you. So it’s important to make the face-to-face interaction early on to show you’re sincere, competent and trustworthy.
Meeting face to face allows us to evaluate non-verbal cues, such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, says Daniel Goleman, author of the 1995 bestseller, Emotional Intelligence.
This is where the customer – as well as staff and contractors – can discern if the company representative is truly engaged and looking out for their best interest.
Getting the chance to tell the company’s story about its origins further reinforces the relationship. People are biologically hard-wired for story. As a result, it engages our emotions and promotes bonding.
While it may not be possible to meet in person all of the time, try to schedule “live” sessions when you can to create a stronger connection.
Regardless if you’re meeting face-to-face, or via a phone conference, these tips will help you come to the meeting prepared:
- Do your research and become fully informed about products and policies.
- Set a brief agenda with a natural time limit.
- Approach the customer with a sense of curiosity.
- Show focus – Don’t let the meeting wander too far afield.
- Don’t talk too much. Let them tell you about themselves and ask questions.
- Turn off any distractions. No call, text or email is more important than the person meeting with you.
- Don’t ask personal questions or talk about politics or religion.
- Make notes of your commitments and schedule a time to follow up.