Why In-​Person Sales Closing Yields the Best Outcomes

BY Tim Londergan
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Video conferencing apps, such as Zoom and Skype, became rock stars during the coronavirus pandemic. Zoom's daily meeting participants increased from 10 million in March 2019 to 200 million in March 2020. Zoom became a lifeline for millions working from home and a savior of reps competing for a remote sales closing.

Since the pandemic, standard practices in health and safety, travel and tourism, and business-​office work models have transformed. And for sales professionals, a new, robust communication channel has been launched. Rich media provides yet another option for reaching clients and building relationships.

More Channels Provide More Personalized Choices for Sales Closing

Finding a comfortable way to communicate with key clients is essential. Over time, as a relationship matures, communication can morph into a more casual setting. However, a critical dialogue, such as a sales closing, is best handled with a personal interchange.

Researching the media options.

Researchers at Cornell University recently studied the impact of asking for help over various communication channels. Specifically, they studied responses to a request asked by way of video, phone, email, text or face-​to-​face (FtF).

The setup:

The help-​seekers would ask five friends to help proofread a half-​page of text. Significantly, the study asked participants to predict which channel would be most effective. Interestingly, they assumed the channel was immaterial; the ask was more important.

The medium assists the message:

Consequently, researchers uncovered the discrepancy. They cited a mismatch in the subjects’ assumptions. Evidence showed visual and audio elements boost positive responses while email and text messages did not deliver the expected results.

The authors conclude:

When we’re asking for something, we think THAT is what matters most. However, the medium we use (HOW we ask) has underlying importance to our audience.

The takeaway:

So, the next time you consider proposing a sales closing via email, you might want to reevaluate.

Generally, People Want to Say ‘YES.' However, Media Matters

There's a psychological principle known as the "yes bias" that suggests people tend to prefer agreeing rather than disagreeing. Their motivation differs with circumstances; however, their reasoning can be:

  • Empathy
  • Look like a good person.
  • Feel like a good person.
  • Secure a reciprocal favor.
  • Hope to gain standing in the group.
  • Avoid the awkwardness of saying no.

Participants in the Cornell study anticipated differences in the effectiveness of the various communication channels to be quite small. However, “help-​seekers underestimated the relative advantage of asking through richer media channels compared to email”, say the authors.

The takeaway:

In other words, if a face-​to-​face ask isn’t possible, ask by Zoom or phone versus email or text.

If You Really Need a ‘Yes,’ It’s Best to Ask In Person

Bottom line:

The Cornell researchers found that seeking help in person was far superior to any other available channel. To fail a sales closing is costly. Therefore, it stands to reason that sellers want to maximize their chances of getting to “yes”.

How far we’ve come:

Ironic, isn’t it? That despite all the technological innovations, the very best method of getting to ‘yes’ is STILL the in-​person meeting.

Thoughtfully Prepare for Your Face-​to-​Face Meetings

A business coaching website stresses how important first impressions can be and why they’re worthy of your attention. Simple things such as, dressing professionally, taking business cards and researching your prospect cannot be overlooked.

Plus, it’s helpful to prepare discovery questions to gain deeper insight and build on the relationship. Done correctly, these probes not only gain understanding but also drive the conversation with purpose and clarity.

Engage in active listening to ensure that your thoughtful questioning doesn’t go to waste. The sales closing may be the beginning of your valuable connection with this client. Actively listening to a client sets the stage for a successful partnership.

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash