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Are In-Person Connections Still Necessary to Close a Sales Deal?

Graphic Showing a Meeting with Conference CallHow much sales prospecting and networking can be done online and over the phone as opposed to in person?

In a world where we are all tied to our computers and smartphones, it is convenient to connect through emails and online platforms. But when should we be meeting with people in person? Are human connections still necessary to close a sales deal, or have we moved into a world where emails and conference calls are just as effective?

There’s More Than One Way to Close a Sales Deal

I wish we all had “Star Trek” teleportation technology so we could efficiently meet with prospects, leads and customers. There are merits to meeting face-to-face, being able to shake someone's hand and make eye contact.

Since we don't have Scotty to beam us up, we can't easily and efficiently meet with people as often as we'd like. Meeting remotely has merits, too, including:

  • You can meet more people in any given day if you eliminate windshield and sky time.
  • You can "cheat" when you meet by phone, referring to notes and screens you can't easily access in person.
  • You can make it easier for your buyer if they can take a call instead of taking a full meeting.
  • You can track calls, emails, webinars and demos with automation and recordings.
  • You can get sales coaching from in-office or recorded calls more often.

Learning to use the phone and tools for video-conferencing is essential in modern selling. It may be more difficult to listen and gauge a buyer's reactions when you don't have in-person cues. It may be harder to stay focused and to convey your warmth over the phone. But sellers who master the soft skills will be more efficient and effective.

Sometimes It Depends on Your Company

The amount of time spent connecting online vs. meeting in person will depend on the industry you're in, your company's go-to-market strategy, and the products/services you sell.

For example, a local territory account executive who sells advertising needs to meet in person with regular advertisers to review schedules, options, and ad design. Why? Because the local proximity and complexity of decisions made together is often easier in person. And because that's what most media competitors do.

By contrast, a SaaS product that isn't customized for each user might be sold globally by a sales team that exclusively works by phone. It isn't practical for them to meet buyers in person, and it isn't necessary.

For most of us, there are times when meeting in person is possible, practical and essential. I suggest seizing those opportunities when it makes sense. When I travel, I look for these opportunities everywhere I go.

The Verdict

So, are human connections still necessary to close a sales deal, or are emails just as effective?

Emails alone will never be as effective as human-to-human contact. Voice-to-voice by phone, face-to-face over video-conferencing, or live chatting is more personal than email.

Yes, with inbound selling, you can make great strides with content and email. But I recommend against relying exclusively on email. Look for ways to make yourself more real and to connect more personally with your buyers.

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