The Enduring Value of Face-To-Face Selling

In a world where digital communications have brought instant global access between people, does it make sense for companies to ask their most valued employees to drop everything, cram themselves into an airplane and spend days away attending a tradeshow?

The answer, we’re happy to report, is a resounding yes. Tradeshow and event attendance continue to grow year after year because companies understand that face-to-face interactions are the best way for employees to stay current in their industries, enabling them to go back to the office informed, enlightened and ready to do a better job.

 In fact, according to a new survey by the national coalition Meetings Mean Business, nine in ten business executives believe that face-to-face meetings improve their ability to close deals, network and grow professionally. And 97 percent say that these kind of meetings deliver a return on investment.

The exhibiting companies themselves remain committed to doing tradeshows because they understand the unique role that face-to-face selling plays in their marketing mix.

After all, tradeshows are the one place where customers get to experience brands in three dimensions. And with the new emphasis on tradeshow experiences—and the host of breaking technologies enriching those experiences—the case for investing in them is more compelling than ever.

It’s little wonder then, that companies are doing so—overall tradeshow spend continues to increase, albeit moderately, year after year.

It’s important to mention, however, that digital technology has been successful in supplanting many kinds of face-to-face business meetings. Platforms like Cisco’s WebEx™, which facilitates online meetings via web conferencing and videoconferencing, do a great job bringing people together for presentations, input sessions, check-ins and other business interactions.

In fact, seeing that trend, a number of developers tried to create virtual tradeshows a few years ago, where an “attendee” could journey from one booth space to another on a computer screen and in the comfort of their own office.

But if anything, these simulations only served to reinforce the value of tradeshows—the warm handshakes, real products, demos, learning opportunities, peer interactions and deep engagements were chillingly absent on the computer.

All of which goes to show, as digital as the world has become, there’s still no substitute for the face-to-face interaction that tradeshows continue to provide.