What is the Difference Between virtual meeting and physical meeting?

Jun 10, 2022 | Virtual Selling | 0 comments

Before the pandemic, businesses used to rely heavily on face-to-face meetings to engage customers and win deals. At that time, both sales reps and customers had to meet at a specific venue at the same time to have meaningful sales conversations.

However, during the pandemic, the lockdown and social distance measures cut off physical attendance at meetings two years ago. As a result, sales leaders were forced to shift to virtual events to host customer meetings in place of physical encounters.

Now that the ‘pandemic’ restrictions are easing and people can attend public meetings again wearing nose masks, many sales organizations are faced with difficulty deciding between virtual and in-person meetings. They keep asking, ‘which one is the best between both.’

This article will help you understand the differences between virtual customer meetings and physical meetings and help you decide which type of meeting is better at any given time.

The following are a few ways in which virtual customer meetings differ from the physical meeting:

#1. Overhead meeting costs

The expenses of holding a physical customer meeting are on the high side. You have to consider the transport and dietary expenses and the costs of getting a specific venue to hold the meeting. Putting all these expenses together, you’ll spend thousands of dollars on each face-to-face meeting you hold with your clients.

For virtual customer meetings, you and your customers can have sales video meetings without depending on a specific space, time zone, or being present in the exact location. This type of meeting allows for quick participant meetings via HD video calls, conference calls, or any virtual meeting platform. Thus, allowing you to save up to $11,000 in overhead compared to the higher costs of planning and running physical meetings.

#2. Fostering connections

Communication is more effective when done face-to-face. This is because there’s more to communication than just speaking and watching. Non-verbal social expressions such as body language, attention level, and facial reactions could give more meaning to conversations.

Physical meetings allow for personalized treatment and better communication because sales reps can pick up on customers’ verbal and non-verbal social expressions. This way, salespeople can deal better with out-of-the-box topics beyond the agendas of the meeting itself. This fosters connection, promotes bonding, and builds a community of loyal customers.

Personal treatment is reduced to virtual treatment in virtual meetings, and salespeople can only pick up on verbal social cues. As virtual meetings don’t give participants the chance to fully express their emotions and passion, dealing with topics outside the set meeting agendas would become a herculean task for sales leaders. Thus, virtual meetings are less effective in fostering connection and gaining customer trust.

#3. Level of participants’ concentration

In face-to-face meetings, customers would want to appear more official (of the highest discipline and great composure) at the meeting venue. There would also be less distraction in the background (as the meeting is scheduled to hold in a serene environment), and customers tend to concentrate more as all eyes will be on the deck slides and sales presenters. As a result, salespeople get to grab participants’ attention quickly and hook them till the end of the sales meeting more engaged.

In virtual meetings, attendees join the meeting via an electronic device (usually their smartphones) and a stable internet connection. They are more likely to get distracted when on their smartphones or PC as they’re often tempted to leave the virtual meeting room to attend to chats from other messaging platforms when they receive a message notification. In addition, background distractions from a particular participant can make other participants lose concentration during a virtual meeting.

#4. Geographical distance

Physical meetings require customers and salespeople to be present at a specific venue simultaneously for sales interactions. This meeting type only makes it easy and less costly for people near the meeting venue to attend. However, participants outside the meeting region may struggle to locate the venue and spend pretty well on travel tickets. Therefore, those who cannot afford the travel costs of attendance get discouraged from being part of the meeting.

With virtual meetings, the geographical distances between the hosts and attendees are no longer present. Customers can join meeting remotely from anywhere across the globe, which would help increase customer attendance. This meeting type helps save customer travel costs and time required to make a trip to a physical meeting venue. It’s a win-win scenario for both parties regarding transport and dietary expenses.

#5. Audience Size

Physical meetings are perfect when you have a large group of customers to meet in the same room. You get to see every participant face-to-face and vice-versa. This way, everyone knows when to talk and listen, and there’ll be no more than one person speaking at a time. You can maintain the highest level of decorum during a physical meeting with customers regardless of size.

In virtual meetings, you don’t want to go through the logistical problem of hosting a meeting with a large group of customers. Holding over 15 people on video calls or video conferences can quickly turn into chaos as everyone would want their voice to be heard simultaneously. This will make the meeting ineffective in the end.

While virtual meetings might not be ideal for a large group, they are a great and fastest way to engage a small group of customers for a meeting.

#6. Participants’ Morale

The reliability of online meetings can be questioned. Minor technical issues or glitches in video conferencing software may result in the meeting not holding at all or as scheduled. This usually increases frustration for both the hosts and attendees and can hurt morale.

There’s nothing like a technical issue when you meet with your customers face-to-face. With physical meetings, you get to engage with your clients even at an interpersonal level, which can help raise their morale and create a personal connection.

It’ll be hard to decide which one is better for your sales organization between the virtual customer and physical meetings. Both meeting types have their strengths and weaknesses.

However, if you want a meeting type that will allow you to displace all your sales charms, physical meetings are better. This meeting type helps ensure better communication, more personal treatment, and greater concentration when meeting with customers. It’s perfect for large group meetings and allows the hosts to discuss off-the-record topics with customers for more engagement.

If you’re looking for how to beat down the overhead and logistic costs associated with in-person meetings, successful virtual meetings are better. This meeting type lets you meet with customers from anywhere without worrying about geographical distances for increased participation. It’s perfect for small group meetings and allows for shorter and recorded meeting sessions.

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