Why Focus on Face-to-Face
Meetings With Prospects?

Why Focus on Face-to-Face Meetings With Prospects?

by: Rob Reed

While managers frequently tell sellers to get in front of their customers, many sellers fail to listen. A couple of studies show why this is a mistake.

In one study, subjects were shown a series of faces flashed on a screen. Some faces were shown more often than others. The faces were shown so quickly, though, that when later asked, subjects could not remember seeing any of the faces before. However, the study found the more often a person was exposed to a face, the greater the liking for the individual when they later met.

In another study, participants were asked to perform various tasks at different “stations.” They performed a task, and then everyone rotated to another station. While the rotation seemed random, the experiment was set up so that participants would see certain participants more often than others. The study found the participants had more affinity for those participants they saw more often.

These studies have some implications for sellers:

Get in front of your customers and prospects whenever possible. The seller who frequently meets face-to-face with a prospect will have an advantage over his or her competitors. This does not mean that you should create false or bogus reasons to meet. There must be valid reasons for meeting.

For example, when you have provide a potential customer with a proposal, present it face-to-face rather than by emailing or faxing. If you sell products that prospects must first evaluate, if possible make frequent stops to meet face-to-face with users to solicit feedback.

Sales managers should consider the results of these studies when designing territories and sales responsibilities:

A smaller geographic territory may be better. If you cover a four-state region and your competitors cover only one large city in that same region, your competitors will have many more opportunities to meet face-to-face with your prospects and current customers.

The “Hunter” sales model — where a seller is only responsible for getting the sale — may not be the best choice if there will be opportunities for follow-on sales where competition will still be involved.

Real estate agents have used the results from these studies very effectively. Many agents have their pictures on business cards and other marketing collateral. While this may not be feasible for all sellers, it is another small thing that could influence whether you win or lose a sale.

These studies show that more frequent face-to-face contact will usually have a positive impact on whether people like you. Liking, in turn, has been shown to impact the level of influence you may have on prospects.