For 165 years, communication technologies have sought relevance in an increasingly noisy universe. Now, well into the 21st century, there is actual management pain from an embarrassment of riches of communication innovations. And this discomfort is especially keen when connecting with customers electronically: Should you email or text? How about IM? And when should you use social media options?
But from Morse to MySpace, there has been one constant that has retained its relevancy: in-person connection. Indeed, face-to-face contact is the original social media.
Today, social media euphoria is starting to be tempered by ROI reality. And as useful as each new communication resource proves to be, they are, after all, merely tools to leverage our physical efforts not eliminate the basic human need for interacting in person. Consider this story:
A sales manager (whose gray hair was not premature) noticed the sales volume of one of his rookies was below budget for the third consecutive month. Of course, he questioned the numbers previously but had allowed his better judgment to be swayed by plausible explanations. Now there was a downward trend.
Upon more pointed probing, the manager discovered the reason for loss of production: too much electronic contact and not enough in-person. The rookie was relying too heavily on virtual tools and missing opportunities to get face-to-face with the customer.
It turns out lack of training and “rubber-meets-the-road” experience left him uncomfortable and unprepared to ask for and conduct meetings, like a proposal presentation. Consequently, he wasn’t benefiting from how the success rate of growing customer relationships can increase when certain critical steps are conducted in person. This manager immediately developed a training program that established standards for how and when to integrate all customer connection tools, including the face-to-face option.
If your sales could use some help trending upward, perhaps your salespeople need help getting in front of customers, particularly at critical steps. Like the manager above, you may need to establish specific and measurable standards for when face-to-face meetings should take place.
From telegraph to Twitter there is one connection option whose relevancy has borne witness to all of the others: in-person contact. Let’s remember John Naisbitt’s prophesy from Megatrends : “The more high tech we have, the more high touch we will want.”
Write this on a rock… Face-to-face is the original social media.
About the Author: Jim Blasingame, one of the world’s foremost experts on small business and entrepreneurship, is now a part of Manta. Jim offers helpful advice in several mediums, from his daily radio show to vast library of articles. Jim can help you, too. Check out his website at: smallbusinessadvocate.com