Smashmouth B2B Blog: Sales & Marketing Demand Gen

C-Level Prospects - Make the First Appointment By Phone

Posted by Mike Damphousse

When I was recently at the Sales 2.0 conference, I had several conversations and debates about the value of Face-to-Face meetings versus Con-calls/Web-meetings. Being that b2b introductory meetings is Green Leads' business, we have noticed a trend over the past several years. With the advent and popularity of web conferencing and the price of travel, most executives are accepting con-call/web-meetings as a standard way of doing business - especially introductory meetings. It has become pervasive, and respected, to do business this way. As some of you know, Green Leads also has a research arm where we conduct market research for clients. We used this team to target a pool of 600 companies (200 F1000, 200 $100M-$1B in revenue, 200 $50M-$100M in revenue). We were able to gain responses from 260 executives (C/VP/Dir). We questioned them on the topic of Face-to-Face vs. Con-call/Web-meetings. These are the results:

  • Respondents:
    • 15% C Level, 31% VP Level, 42% Director, 11% Other
    • 37% IT/Technical, 24% Sales/Marketing, 16% Finance/Operations, 23% Other
  • Question 1 - What percentage of the introductory meetings you take with new vendors or partners today are done Face-to-Face vs Con-call/Web-meeting?
    • 42% Face-to-Face
    • 58% Con-call/Web-meeting
  • Question 2 - Do you see an increase in the number of meetings taking place by Con-call/Web-meeting?
    • 62% Definitely
    • 16% Somewhat
    • 22% Not really
  • Question 3 - Are these meetings satisfactory for the purposes of introductory discussions?
    • 69% Definitely
    • 26% Somewhat
    • 5% Not really
  • Question 4 - Do you get more from a face-to-face meeting vs. a Con-call/Web-meeting?
    • 32% Definitely
    • 17% Somewhat
    • 51% Not really
  • Question 5 - What does your company do when they need to initiate an introductory meeting with a prospect or partner?
    • 64% Con-call/Web-meeting
    • 32% Face-to-Face
    • 4% Video conference
    • 3% Tradeshows
    • 1% Other

The data seems to show that Con-call/Web-meetings are becoming more common, and more acceptable as a way to start a business relationship. A strong indicator is the last question where the majority of respondents indicated that their own companies are moving towards more Con-call/Web-meetings.

If during the appointment setting, it is the wish of your prospect to conduct the first meeting by phone, don't shy away from it. Take the opportunity and make the best of it. A couple things to consider:

  • Con-call/Web-meetings have a higher rate of cancellation/reschedules/no-shows. This is just the nature of the commitment. It's easier to cancel or move a meeting when a prospect knows there are no plane tickets involved.
  • For Con-call/Web-meetings there is a trend of delegating to lower-level staff prior to secondary/follow-on activity.
  • Con-call/Web-meetings must be treated as formally as a Face-to-Face meeting. A casual phone call is not appropriate. Setting up a bridge number, having an online presentation, and additional attendees (Applications Engineer, Manager, or other supporting attendees) can help improve the quality and acceptance of the meeting.
  • Some prospect executives simply won't take face-to-face meetings. If the prospect is the proper target with the proper role, it is recommended that this be respected and a Con-call/Web-meeting take place.
  • Face-to-Face meetings do still seem to have a higher level of success due to the personal commitment and interaction. When at all possible, do Face-to-Face meetings. Despite your preference for the style of meeting, be understanding when a prospect asks for one over the other. Unless there are travel/scheduling conflicts, we recommend abiding by the prospect's wishes.
  • Make the goal of any introductory meeting to get a second meeting. Don't over-sell.

In conclusion, if you want to have meetings 2.0, then take them any way your prospect wants them.

Tags: marketing, sales, appointments, lead gen, sales2.0

The ROI of Conference Calls vs. Face to Face Meetings

Posted by Michael Damphousse

b2b appointment settingEver wonder if your enterprise sales team should be on the road heading to an introductory first meeting with a prospect?  I was recently in the UK for business and saw sales reps investing a half day or more traveling for 30-60 minute meetings.  Do the results differ if they were to have taken those introductory meetings by phone?  Many would say yes, but the data begs to differ.

Green Leads measures the sales outcome of our client's b2b appointment setting programs.  We do this to gain an immediate measure of the program as opposed to waiting out long sales cycles to show true ROI.  By measuring this immediate outcome, it brings short term metrics to the program.

We measure sales outcome of the meetings in three ways:

A) Immediate Sales Activity: the meeting results in immediate sales activity (proposal, trial, second meeting, addition of other decision makers to the process, etc.)

B) Nurturable Activity: the meeting was with a prospect that had the right decision maker profile, and it has potential, but needs nurturing over time.  A portion of these will convert to sales activity over time.

C) Not a Fit: the meeting was with a prospect that had the right decision maker profile, but one or both parties decided there was not a fit, the lead is closed out.

With 5 years of data, the overall distribution of meetings is roughly a third, a third and a third:  

Phone Meetings vs Face to Face ABC

It's marginal, but the resulting outcome between phone meetings and face to face shows that phone actually has a higher percentage of immediate sales activity. 

Don't get me wrong, the value of face time is huge, but isn't the value of having an active sales process more important?  Things to consider:

  • Sales reps can conduct more meetings if using phone, and more meetings converting at an similar rate to face to face means more efficiency.
  • Reduced travel costs impacts the budget with phone meetings.  
  • With the advent of technology, web meeting capabilities, and trends in time management, more prospects are inclined to take introductory meetings by phone (poll results).  This may result in sales reps being able to have more conversations with prospects they might otherwise not have been able to.

One drawback to phone meetings, they are more likely to blow you off.  It's easy to miss a phone call, it's harder to say no to someone sitting in your lobby.  Our data shows that phone meetings reschedule/cancel 20% more than face to face. 

Me?  I would much rather have a sales rep prove to me in a 20 minute phone call why he should come visit and use my face time.  You?

Tags: marketing, sales, demand gen, b2b marketing, appointment setting, sales2.0, b2b polls, introductory meetings, b2b math