Do face to face relationships still have a value in a digital age?
It’s highly likely that you are reading this article via some form of digital media, maybe you subscribe to my blog, perhaps you saw one of my tweets sharing a link to my website promoting this article or we could be connected on Linkedin and I have shared this with you. In the modern business world where so much of our communication is conducted through various digital platforms which plays a huge part of how we engage and communicate with our clients, are we sacrificing valuable face to face relationship building as a result of spending too much time building purely digital networks?
Like so many people operating in sales and business I spend a fair amount of my time using a range of digital tools whether it is Linkedin, Emails, skype, Twitter plus the endless list of other messaging platforms that are out there and of course if a client is using a certain platform I inevitably have to join that one as well, the fact is that in virtually every aspect of the business world, digital communication is all around us, however I regularly observe a reluctance from some sales groups to explore or engage with face to face meetings with clients with many seeing it as outdated or a waste of time but I know from experience of working with other teams that they are certainly missing a trick with certain client situations, coming from someone who has had his fair share of success using these tools and has made sales from people I’ve only ever spoken to via twitter or Linkedin and people that I have never met face to face this isn’t designed to be a piece that is anti social media or digital selling, far from it, in fact, the idea is to make you think about the possibility of aligning a range of approaches rather than focus on just one or two and ignoring others.
Why have face to face meetings fallen out of favour?
The simple answer is that there isn’t really one particular reason for this instead a variety of developments and events that have made face to face meetings fall out of favour, as I have already mentioned the prominence of digital platforms in everyday life has certainly had an impact as has a lack of time, time is obviously a factor but with the right client it is time well spent and we can’t overlook a shift in the landscape of the sales industry with more and more telephone focused teams being created in every market.
Digital limitations and the Importance of Bringing digital connections into the real world
If we look at Linkedin as an example, most people have a few hundred connections and more and more people have a network running into thousands of connections and this alone brings in opportunities but by bringing these digital relationships into the real world and taking these online discussions into meetings or calls, really helps to strengthen relationships but also allows you to get to know your network better and build three really important elements of every relationship, know like and trust.
These three very powerful words, dictate almost all business relationships that develop into working relationships and it boils down to how well do I know this person, do I like this person and do I trust this person, developing these three elements is one of the biggest challenges that people who only maintain their relationship in the digital world face.
Digital platforms such as Linkedin for example are great spaces for finding new leads and contacts but the mistake many people make is to keep these connections and communications within this digital world, I recently attended a fantastic event that encouraged people from the LinkedIn community to come together and actually meet their connections face to face, it was a hugely valuable exercise I had some great conversations and it allowed me to understand more about their businesses and helped me to strengthen a number of relationships by getting to know my network better.
A key differentiator
One of the really important lessons I have taken from looking into this more closely is that when you bring face to face elements into a selling situation it really provides a strong differentiator between yourself and your competition and this factor has a huge influence on your chances of making that sale ahead of your competition.
One of many elements building relationships
One of the elements that separates hugely successful salespeople from others is their ability to evolve and embrace new ideas alongside tried and tested approaches, they tend to have many strings to their sales armoury rather than focusing on just one approach, it is important not to fall into the trap of just focusing entirely on face to face meetings and building relationships as a single stream of focus, it can be hugely powerful in the right situations and can really cement a relationship and grow trust and build stronger commercial ties, but don’t try and force the issue if a client doesn’t want to meet face to face, engage and communicate in a way that works best for them.
Do I feel that using social media and digital platforms can help to create interest and create the beginning of a relationship?
Definitely, digital communication is an indispensable platform for finding and engaging with potential clients and it should absolutely continue to play a fundamental part in your sales strategy.
Do I feel they can work hand in hand?
Certainly, there comes a time in every digital communication process when you need to convert your digital relationships into a face to face meeting and strengthen the relationship.
Do I feel that face to face relationships still have a value in the business world?
Yes absolutely, based upon my experiences of the past 18 months the value that face to face relationships bring, certainly makes a difference between a successful client engagement and losing a deal.
What does this teach us?
In business people buy people not profiles
Until next time have a successful week