I just got a tip from John Sutton, a friend of mine at Sendside, who read a survey on a United Airlines flight last week from the United States Travel Association that found business leaders estimate face-to-face selling converts 40% of prospects to customers, while virtual selling (Inside Sales) converts 16%.
That means face-to-face selling closes 2.5 times better than remote selling. We found roughly the same ratio at Inside Sales about four years ago. Our current ratios place remote closing ratios around 18.5%, so the gap is narrowing.
Inside Sales teams cover way more ground in terms of prospecting than true face-to-face salespeople. In fact, very few face-to-face salespeople actually prospect in a face-to-face mode any more, so the here is where the numbers skew.
Almost all face-to-face (Outside) sales reps have switched to an Inside Sales model for their prospecting, and they pick up the phone to set their appointments.
We have found that lead generation reps (with power dialer technology) make 7 times more prospecting calls than manually dialing.
What does this mean?
It points to a hybrid model where you prospect remotely, and go face-to-face to close the big deals where it is still cost effective, otherwise sell remotely.
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