The world, as we know it today, is much more fast-paced than it once was. Technology is making it so that we can work remotely and reach people across the world just as quickly as we can someone just down the hall.
While this has made many tasks in our lives more efficient, and brought us all a lot closer together in the virtual sense, it has also made us much more distant physically.
We humans are complex. There’s a depth to us, and how we operate, that can never be replaced by computers. We can automate the lights in our homes, email responses and bill payments, but we can’t rely on robots to evoke emotion and nurture important relationships.
In-person interaction produces a different set of emotions and leads to a much more authentic understanding of one another, and that can be really important in business. It’s why we at Close regularly visit customers and organize customer meetups.
So when is it appropriate, in the business context, to meet people in person?
Easy: When you can’t progress the relationship in any other way.
Let’s take a deeper look at why it's a good idea to occasionally step away from the keyboard and take the time to meet people in the flesh.
To grow and nurture your network
Whether you’re catching up with a coworker or meeting with a sales prospect, nothing beats a face to face interaction. This type of encounter eliminates unnecessary distractions and produces a much better experience for both parties.
Setting aside dedicated time to sit down and chat with someone really shows them that you value that relationship, and it helps to foster a sense of trust and respect.
When it comes to growing your business, it’s all about the long game. Taking an hour to meet a new contact for coffee, when you’re not sure what may come of it, may seem like valuable time wasted—but I tell you, if you play your cards right, the results could come back to benefit you tenfold.
What was once just another contact in your network, could quickly turn into a sales prospect that you close, thanks to the relationship you’ve built with them.
The key is to go into your meetings with a goal. Be intentional with your time and clear on what you’d like to get out of it. As Sasha Orloff, CEO of LendUp, told First Round: “People want to help, but they can only help so much if you yourself don’t know where you’re headed. With a more specific objective, you can much more effectively maximize your network.”
Nobody wants their time wasted, so make it count.
To improve your chances of success
As you know, once you’ve gained a new sales prospect or lead, your job is far from over. Now you’ve got to close the deal.
Doing so is a lot easier in a face to face setting, where you can better assess immediate reactions and address objections as they arise.
The fact is, a lot of context can be missed when relying on written and spoken words alone. Body language, eye contact, tone of voice, facial expressions - we use all of these nonverbal cues when communicating and thus, when they’re omitted, we lose a lot of the message and can easily misinterpret what’s being said.
Think about a disagreement you may have had with a coworker. Have you ever been communicating back and forth by chat or email and things seem to escalate quickly? You can’t get a proper sense of flow or tone and the issue takes longer to get resolved.
Conflict resolution requires physical contact. That doesn’t mean solving problems with your fists; it means being present with the other person. Having the complete information makes it easier to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion much faster.
To complete tasks more efficiently
Workplace tools and software have made collaboration a breeze!
Need to chat through a quick problem? Go to Hangouts. Want to follow up on last week’s task? Hit up Slack. But do these applications really help us get things done faster?
Trying to reach an agreement via email can easily run you several hours with all the back and forth and that Slack ping is just one more distraction interrupting you from the important task you were working on.
While getting creative with communication can be necessary, especially if you’re part of a remote team, you can’t beat the speed of one-on-one interactions.
Don’t get me started on the time suck that meetings can be, but for quick answers and feedback, sometimes it’s best to step away from your desk, find your colleague, and communicate in person.
To build trust when and where you need it most
Whether you’re looking to close a deal or instill more confidence in your team, connecting face to face provides a special touch that no piece of technology can—a human one.
In sales situations in particular, people do business with people they like and that they feel comfortable with. If you want to sell someone on what you do, it’s up to you to build and nurture that trust.
When you sell your product or service, you’re also selling your company and yourself along with it. Today, the lines between business and personal are becoming increasingly blurred. In the eyes of your customers, you and your brand are one.
Make your customers comfortable by listening, being transparent and providing value. Spend time with them, give them your attention and show them that you care about them and their needs. They’ll thank you for it, and you’ll thank yourself later.
Wrapping it up
If you’re not accustomed to stepping away from your desk and meeting with customers or prospects face to face, it’s time to start thinking differently.
Technology has made it too easy to handle things on the go as they arise, but it has also eliminated the important personal touch.
While the days may be gone where a business transaction is finalized by a handshake, we’re still human. We know how others would like to be treated, because it’s how we would like to be treated. We are social by nature and, whether it be with our peers, our customers, a friend or a loved one, we crave that human to human contact.
Hopefully this post has opened your mind to the possibilities that can come from activities that don’t necessarily scale.
For more discussion on this topic, check out episode #327 of The Startup Chat: The Benefits of In-Person Meetings & Relationships.
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