For those who conduct business through online platforms, e-mail exchanges, and phone calls, face-to-face meetings have become the exception to the rule. If you’ve earned your business degree online, whether at the bachelor’s level or in a graduate degree program, you already know how technology enables communication—whether you’re interacting with someone who’s in another room or around the globe. So how important are face-to-face meetings?
Meeting Professionals International, the largest global meeting and event industry association, published revealing statistics about the power of face-to-face business meetings in its white paper, Meetings Deliver. The statistics came from several research surveys conducted by industry leaders like Harvard Business Review, Forbes Insights, and Oxford Economics.* According to survey respondents:
Have a specific goal. For example, if you’re meeting face-to-face for the first time after you’ve exchanged initial information via e-mail or phone, your goal might be to sign a contract. When you know exactly what you want to accomplish, you have a better chance of staying focused on attaining your goal.
Arrive 10–15 minutes early. This shows respect for your prospect as well as your eagerness to do business with him or her. It also gives you time check your appearance, reduce any nervousness you may be feeling, and review important points of your presentation.
Prepare a written agenda. Make extra copies in case more people come to the meeting than expected. When you hand them out, emphasize that you understand that you have been allotted a particular amount of time for the meeting, again showing respect for everyone involved.
Don’t be too talkative. Encourage the prospect to discuss their business challenges and needs, so that you can better explain how you can help them. Ideally, your prospect will talk more than you do.
Be an active listener. It’s not enough to ask questions and encourage your prospect to talk. When you pay close attention and truly process what people are saying, as well as notice their tone of voice and body language, you can develop stronger insights and information about their needs—and what it will be like to work with them.
Ask for the sale. You’re in the meeting for a reason, and everyone else is too. Let the prospect know what a perfect fit and solution your product or service will be, and provide any additional information that would support their decision to engage with you. Make sure all questions have been answered clearly and any objections have been overcome.
Follow up promptly. Your follow-up will depend in part on how the meeting ended—whether the prospect said yes, no, not now, or “we’ll let you know.” Establish what the next step will be and who will initiate the next contact. If you find yourself awaiting a message or call for longer than you expected, call or e-mail, but don’t pester. Balancing persistence and patience are essential qualities of a successful businessperson.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to start or change your career, want to advance in your current business role, or are an entrepreneur ready to start your own business, these online degree programs can help prepare you for success in the business world:
Explore Walden University's online business administration degrees for graduates and undergraduates. Get the help you need to launch or advance your career. Earn your degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.
*Meeting Professionals International, Meetings Deliver, on the Internet at http://peincentives.com/wp-content/uploads/Meetings_Deliver.pdf.