Can Face-to-Face Sales Give Your Business an Edge?

by Stephanie Faris on March 12, 2013

“Outside sales” positions aren’t what they used to be, what with phone calls, emails, and video chats and conferences giving reps the ability to keep in touch with clients without ever leaving the office.

But even as web-based transactions quickly overtake in-person sales, face-to-face meetings remain more effective than virtual ones, especially when it comes to attracting new clients. A study by global research firm Oxford Economics shows that for every dollar a business spends on travel it earns an average of $12.50 in added revenue and $3.80 in new profits. What’s more, paying special attention to clients by arranging old-fashioned meetings can give your company a competitive edge.

Of course, off-site meetings cost time and money, two resources many small businesses owners often lack. Here are five ways to nurture existing clients and attract new ones, with minimal impact on your travel budget.

  1. Set a schedule. Try to meet with your clients on a regular basis. The more often you visit each one, the better. Some professionals set aside several weeks a year solely to see clients. Even traveling across the country quarterly or a couple of times a year can make a difference.
  2. Maximize trips. When you travel to a particular city or region, arrange to meet with various clients whenever possible. Before you go, determine whether there are any potential customers you can visit while you’re in the area, too.
  3. Use trip-planning software. Services like Microsoft Streets & Trips can help you map out multiple sales calls and create the most efficient routes. This saves fuel and lessens driving time (to help you squeeze in more appointments per day).
  4. Make the most of your appointments. Research and prepare for your meetings in advance. Whether you’re wooing a new client or consulting an existing one, you’re likely interested in selling new products or services. Make sure you listen to your clients/prospects and confidently express your ability to deliver whatever it is they need.
  5. Remember to follow up. While you’re on the road, use a mobile app like Salesforce to take notes about each client you visit. When you return, follow up to reiterate any major points or action items that emerged during your conversations.