Despite technology disruption and demographic shifts, “old-fashioned,” face-to-face meetings remain the most effective means for conducting business. Business professionals in a study published by Oxford Economics found that virtual meetings with prospects are 85 percent less effective than in-person meetings (only 12 percent indicate virtual meetings are more effective).
Facial expressions, hand gestures, voice tone, and other mannerisms provide valuable information to the listener. They are often just as important as the words themselves. Even when virtual video technologies are employed, the experience is not the same; listeners simply are not able to derive the same information as when in-person.
3 Reasons for In-Person Prospect Meetings
There is no replacement to the energy and connections that occur with in-person meetings. This is particularly important in sales scenarios, when sales managers aim to secure a prospect’s interest and further engagement. Three of the most salient ways in which in-person prospect meetings enable greater sales success include:
- Virtual meetings and multitasking. Buyers who attend virtual sales meetings are much more likely to multitask than if they attended a face-to-face meeting. Information is much less likely to make it into long-term memory when someone is multitasking.
- Emotional stimuli. Certain stimuli only occur during face-to-face interactions. These positive emotional responses prompt buyers to form closer attachment to sellers—both individuals and companies. The in-person stimuli also prompt buyers to be more open-minded and to think creatively.
- Relationship connections. From a relationship standpoint, in-person meetings enable sellers and buyers to build a level of transparency and trust that simply is impossible when employing virtual channels such as email, phone, and conference calls. When asked to stack-rank the top business outcomes of in-person meetings, executives in a Forbes Insights survey listed persuasion, leadership, engagement, inspiration, and decision-making as the top reasons.
Setting the Stage
Getting an in-person meeting with a prospect is just the starting point. Ensuring seamless execution of the meeting—and the accompanying presentation—is critical. Here, Gartner finds that sales presentations have the biggest impact when buyers are seeking to deepen the relationship and experience with the seller.
The ability of the seller to create a customized, personalized presentation focused on the requirements of the buyer helps them to stand out from the competition. All of this requires substantial homework beforehand whereby the seller must get to know the buyer and her/his business requirements.
Meeting Space and Logistics Checklist
Locating the right meeting space is another critical homework assignment for the seller. They should never settle for meetings in unprofessional settings in public meeting areas or staid hotel meeting rooms. The meeting room space and experience is a true representation of the seller’s brand, and the last thing a seller wants is for it to distract the buyer—or even detract from the meeting.
The following are some of the factors a business needs to consider when considering a virtual meeting space for a prospect meeting:
- The right location. Find a conference room in a location that is convenient for the customer and moreover exemplifies your brand standards (should bolster not diminish the brand).
- Lobby greeter. The first in-person interaction a prospect has with your brand should be seamless and highly professional. This means you need a lobby greeter who is not only friendly and courteous but knowledgeable as well.
- Presentation tools. The conference room needs to be fully equipped with the latest presentation tools such as smart boards, LCD projectors, and plasma screens at your fingertips.
- Audio and video conferencing. If some of the members of your team are not able to attend in person or some members of the customer’s team are not able to do so, you need to ensure that the conference room is outfitted with the latest audio and video conferencing technologies. Indeed, the last thing you want to happen is for valuable time to be spent connecting someone into the meeting. Further, you want the customer to have a seamless experience—both those attending in person and those who are connected virtually.
- Few meetings occur without Internet connectivity. The Internet connection offered by the conference center must be high speed and highly available. You cannot risk having a demo fail or to be subpar because of unreliable or poor Internet connectivity.
- Business services. Prospect meetings often require copying, printing, faxing, notary, mailing, and other business services. Spending valuable time on these tasks takes away from the time spent with the prospect. The conference center needs to be equipped to provide these services, enabling you to focus on building the customer relationship and negotiating or signing a contract.
- Catering. Sometimes working breakfast or lunch meetings are required due to time constraints. In other instances, you may want to provide food and beverages after the meeting to make sure the prospect leaves happy. Here, you require a conference center with a variety of catering service options.
Davinci Meeting and Conference Rooms
Davinci Virtual Workspaces offer everything you need for a successful business meeting. We now offer more than 4,000 full-service professional business centers located around the globe. In addition to reserving space for prospect meetings, businesses can reserve day offices and even board rooms. Check out Davinci Virtual Workspaces today.
 Oxford Economics, “The Return on Investment of U.S. Business Travel,” 2009.
 Forbes Insights, “Business Meetings: The Case for Face-to-Face,” 2011.
 Hank Barnes and Christine Adams, “Tech Go-to-Market: The B2B Customer Buying Cycle for Technology Products and Services,” Gartner, June 18, 2013.