Our whole world has turned upside down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Decision-makers who were once wearing power outfits with manicured hair are now in their pajamas drinking from their #1 dad coffee mug until noon.
Outside sales reps are also feeling out of their element. Pre-pandemic, they had the ability to take face-to-face sales appointments. It’s hard for someone to no-show if they’re already waiting in your lobby. Plus, things like a friendly smile, firm handshake and a small gift were all ammo that sales reps could use to solidify a deal. All of that is now GONE—so, now what? Fortunately, a lack of in-person B2B sales appointments may not be the worst thing to happen to your business. In fact, it may actually be a good thing.
Face-to-Face Appointments vs. Phone Appointments
We may be limited right now and unable to take in-person sales appointments, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it may include even more opportunities to pitch your product or service than before. Here are the pros and cons of face-to-face B2B sales appointments and phone sales appointments.
B2B Sales Appointments: Face-to-Face
Taking B2B sales appointments over the phone may turn out to be a better option for your business. However, adjusting to a new normal is never easy, and there are still advantages to having a face-to-face meeting with a prospect.
Pros of Face-to-Face Sales Meetings
- Rapport built face-to-face. It’s much easier to build rapport with a potential client face-to-face. It’s easier to read how someone is feeling when you’re with them in person, so a sales rep can use that to their advantage and adjust how they pitch.
- Handshake and a smile. A handshake and a smile can go a long way, especially if a sales rep is naturally good with people. This can be what makes or breaks a B2B sales appointment. If a sales rep is trained on the proper B2B appointment setting techniques AND they’re naturally good with people face-to-face, it’s a slam dunk.
- Ability to gauge interest level from expressions. It’s easier to tell how someone is feeling and read body language when you’re with them in person. On a face-to-face appointment, a sales rep can use this to their advantage and adjust how they pitch.
- Showcase physical attributes of the product. If your company sells a physical product, it’ll be much harder to showcase that product and explain the physical attributes of that product over the phone. Face-to-face, a sales rep can easily show why a product is so great and how it can add value or fulfill a certain need a customer has.
There are also several downsides to face-to-face meetings; as a result, phone meetings are becoming much more common.
Cons of Face-to-Face Sales Meetings
- Downtime. Ever seen eight face to face meetings take place in one day? No; between travel time and having to keep up a professional appearance all day, it’s simply not possible. But, a sales rep could easily take eight phone appointments in one day.
- Expense. If you want to have a face-to-face sales meeting, it’s going to cost you. Being in front of someone can cost as much as 8x more than a call. First off, time is money. Any time you waste traveling to and from the sales appointment is time that you could have spent prospecting or calling new potential customers. Then, you also have to factor in actual travel expenses (gas money, plane ticket, hotel, etc.).
- No in-person connection made. Something as simple as having a weak handshake can lead to a not-so-successful B2B sales appointment. People read body language and pay attention to mannerisms. If you can’t achieve a connection, you won’t close a deal.
- Difficult for management to track. In-person sales appointments are difficult for management to track, making it hard for your sales team to improve. What did the salesperson say on the appointment? Why didn’t we get the deal? Sales managers won’t have the answers to these questions if a sales meeting took place face-to-face.
- Harder to get a commitment for face to face meetings. If your company is strictly doing face-to-face sales appointments, you might not be getting as many opportunities to pitch as you could be. It’s much harder to get a prospect to commit to a face-to-face meeting, whereas most potential customers can squeeze in a phone meeting any given week.
B2B Sales Appointments: Over the Phone
Now, let’s talk about B2B sales appointments over the phone. With the current circumstances, this is becoming the new norm. However, you may realize even once the pandemic is over that phone appointments are actually a more favorable option when it comes to closing deals and taking B2B sales appointments.
Pros of B2B Sales Appointments Over the Phone
- Conduct more meetings. If scheduled and planned, sales reps can conduct two to three times as many sales appointments on the phone as they could face-to-face.
- Not as many outside distractions. Your screen is now “the room.” Things that might have been distracting during a face-to-face appointment like objects in a conference room or people’s mannerisms aren’t a problem on the phone.
- No risk of appearance getting in the way. Imagine a potential customer who you really want to close a deal with saying “um, hey, there’s food stuck in your teeth,” during an appointment. If you’re conducting a phone appointment, you don’t have to worry about your lunch being stuck in your teeth. You can still have a killer pitch and close a deal.
- Video conferencing software. Even if you do prefer to actually see the person you’re talking to, modern video conferencing software makes this possible without the burden of travel time. Using video conferencing software, you can still see someone face-to-face while retaining the ability to hang up and start another sales call quickly.
- Easier to reschedule if a conflict arises. Phone appointments are easy to schedule, in-person meetings, not so much. You have to make new travel arrangements and ensure that you have time on a new date, whereas a phone appointment you can conduct from anywhere and it will likely only take 30 minutes to an hour.
- Management has more visibility in the pitch process. Phone appointments help sales teams improve their pitch process and close more deals. Management can listen in on a sales pitch to better understand why a prospect did or didn’t buy and use that information to tweak their sales process until it’s perfect.
- Easier for prospects to commit to a phone appointment. “Hey, when do you have time for me to come by your facility, or what day works best for you to come here?” vs. “Hey, any chance you have 20 minutes available next week for a quick chat?” One of these definitely sounds like less of a commitment than the other, and it’s obviously the phone appointment. It’s much easier to get a prospect to commit to a phone appointment, which means more opportunities for you to pitch your product or service.
Cons of B2B Sales Appointments Over the Phone
- Can’t see prospects. Not being able to see a prospect, read their body language, and gauge their interest makes it harder to sell at times.
- Can’t use personal appearance to gain an advantage. Sometimes, a prospect will appreciate the professionalism and effort of a sales rep so much that it influences their decision to buy.
- Can be susceptible to no-shows. All sales reps are going to deal with no shows (with face-to-face appointments, you’ll deal with cancellations). If you schedule phone appointments, there are going to be times when people don’t show up—it’s inevitable.
- Voice inflection and tone matter. It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. A sales rep could have the perfect script in front of them, but it means nothing without the right tone. Voice inflection in sales is extremely important; things such as changing your pitch, talking too fast, or talking too loudly can come across the wrong and make a prospect less apt to buy.
When all is said and done, with proper planning, your organization can conduct more phone meetings than face-to-face meetings, ultimately resulting in more opportunities to close new business. Plus, the benefits of phone meetings outweigh the cons. If your team isn’t already conducting sales appointments over the phone, now is the time to start doing so (you really don’t have a choice). You can generate more revenue with phone appointments and increase the volume of sales appointments you take in a day.
About a decade ago, Abstrakt Marketing Group decided to make the transition from face-to-face meetings to phone meetings and we’ve seen huge success with it. With our B2B appointment setting services, all you have to worry about is delivering detailed pitches to qualified leads and close deals. Our sales development representatives and sales reps will do the leg work.
If you have any questions about how our B2B lead generation services work or what a program would look like for your business, contact us today.