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You can’t email a handshake

November 18, 2010

So there I was in my 3 Star Guesthouse in Cornwall, soaking wet after a long journey down from Manchester (which included a tram, a train, an aeroplane, a taxi and a walk along a windy sea front). I had to ask myself why, in this age of video conferences and online meeting centres, we still subject ourselves to the hassles of travelling to see clients? I mean, we’ve all become so lazy now due to these advances in technology. Many people are reluctant to even pick up the phone – they would rather email. And like the first sales manager I ever had said to me “Paul…you can’t email a handshake”.

I know it is a cliché but ‘people buy from people’ - meeting clients has always been something that even before I was born, anyone serious about building relationships would’ve been doing lots of. Simple reason – it works! I could count on the one hand the people that I’ve made the effort to see that haven’t agreed to do business with us by the end of that day. It is a lot harder for someone to say no to your face.

It is a great opportunity to discuss more than one topic. A phone call is all too often rushed….it feels like an SAS mission…’get on the phone, find out the answer to my question and get out again’. As standard when you arrange a meeting, they will give you at least an hour of their time. In that hour we will both get more from it than weeks and weeks of phone calls. There will be clear communication to eliminate misunderstandings, answer questions, address problems all at once, leading to greater buy-in and trust from your client.

Sales is as much about building relationships as anything else and the only way to do this is by getting to know someone. Little things like knowing where your client likes to holiday, what football team they support, do they have kids etc etc. Building up an understanding of what makes your client tick will only have a positive effect. All of these things will be done during a face to face meeting.

Getting back to original question ‘why, in this age of video conferences and online meeting centres, we still subject ourselves to the hassles of traveling to see clients?’ Because you’ll make a personal connection, give your client faith that you understand their business, have at least an hour of their time to work your charm and finally it’s just nice to get out of the office!

So get off your back side and go see that client…if you don’t someone else will!!


Posted by Paul Latham

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