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4 Reasons In-Person Meetings Will Never Be Obsolete

The ease and convenience of new communication technologies make it easier than ever to talk with people around the world. Business leaders can collaborate with colleagues on the other side of the country via teleconferencing, screen sharing and conference calls. However, despite the impressive communication tactics that allow people to work together without ever leaving their offices, the business travel industry continues to thrive.

According to the Global Business Travel Association, corporate trips were responsible for 3 percent of America’s gross domestic product in 2012, with the total spent coming in at around $380 billion. There’s a reason why road warriors are continually sent out on business trips, even when they could communicate with the same clients via electronics. It’s because in-person meetings are invaluable to a strong business.

Before you cancel your car service ride and use Skype instead, read these four reasons why you should continue to prioritize face-to-face meetings.

“Nonverbal cues get lost over email or telephone.”

1. Nonverbal Communication is Essential 
While psychologists and communication specialists disagree on the exact breakdown of verbal and nonverbal communications, most experts admit that unspoken cues comprise a large part of interpersonal messages. There are a number of different factors that contribute to nonverbal communication, including tone of voice, intonation, posture, body language and small physical ticks. Unfortunately, many of these cues can easily get lost when people are communicating electronically. It’s impossible to detect someone’s tone via email, and a salesperson may miss a furrowed brow when talking over video chat.

These small signs can often make the difference between closing a deal and missing out on an important prospect. One of the biggest reasons that in-person meetings will always be necessary is because nonverbal communication is best interpreted face-to-face. When businesspeople are sitting across the table from each other, they’re able to more fully understand each other’s messages and work together more efficiently.

2. Trust is Built Face-to-Face
A study from Carlson Wagonlit Travel showed that 31 percent of business travelers hit the road to meet with clients or prospects. The reason that many companies place emphasis on in-person meetings with new or important customers is because it’s often easier to build a strong rapport face-to-face. A strong handshake, confident smile and reassuring tone can all contribute to the level of trust built with potential clients, and these critical aspects are best presented in person.

It’s no surprise that the same road warriors from the Carlson Wagonlit survey noted that 88 percent of corporate trips are successful. There’s something about going the extra mile – literally – that translates into strong business relations and continued patronage.

3. Environment Speaks for Itself
You can learn a lot from a person by reading nonverbal cues, and you can similarly gain insight into a company by regarding the work environment. Whether you’re signing a new client, upselling their spend or just training staff members on your product, chances are that there are clues within the office space as to how you can do your job better. Take note of the size of the business, the demeanor of the workers, the day-to-day operations and the potential for growth when you’re on a client visit. These factors can all help road warriors to tailor their strategies and optimize productivity with the client down the road.

Personal connections are an irreplaceable part of business. Personal connections are an irreplaceable part of business.

4. Humans Need Personal Contact
Humans are social beings, and at the end of the day, your business will be better off if it prioritizes building personal connections with clients. Taking the time to visit a customer in person shows that your organization is dedicated to making the partnership work, even if it means putting in a little extra effort.

“When business owners overlook the importance of that personal connection, they run the risk of losing the prospect to someone else – usually someone who took the time to create a relationship and help the prospect buy something rather than trying to simply sell to them,” sales trainer Adrian Miller explained to Entrepreneur magazine.

So what are you waiting for? Book a flight, schedule an airport limo service and send your seasoned employees out to visit those important clients that keep your business running.

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