Skype, hangouts, email, messenger bots...in the modern day world, can technology ever truly substitute a face-to-face meeting with a real person? Regional business manager Johno Harris discusses.
Just the other day, I had to post a parcel to my Sister in Australia - it was an iPad she had left behind from visiting over Christmas, so it was pretty urgent. I did what anyone would have done, I Googled it, chose a company, transacted the deal online at high cost to ensure speed. Then wrapped it and delivered it to the closest pick-up point about 5 miles away, where it winged its way merrily into total oblivion...
There is almost no way to retrieve it and we cannot speak to a human - the courier company don’t seem to care (she still does not know where it is as I write this article). Electronic tracking yet cannot be found. 5 years ago, I would just have walked down to my local village post office and posted it 1st class in the sure knowledge it would arrive. I did not even consider that this time. Duh!
The same could be said of the way we conduct our business activities today. We live in a world of high speed communications where social media, e-mails, texts and voicemails (options, options, options) seem to replace good old fashioned face-to-face meetings. How often do we send someone an e-mail and hope they will react before we move to our next task - never scheduling in to follow-up!
"Do a conference call" I hear you shout - all well and good thanks, but how do you get your personality to shine through on a conference call? Again, people have options to turn their cameras off (which most seem to choose). Even with the camera on, people can only see your head and shoulders and we all know how ineffective these calls can be with background noises, interruptions, etc.
In a face to face meeting you can assess other people’s attitudes and enthusiasm, you can find out far more about what makes them tick, … real gold in terms of relationship building, and let’s face it, relationships are what business runs on. How can anyone today expect to build a great relationship with someone they have never met personally? It’s possible in some circumstances, but usually pretty difficult.
Two particular examples spring to mind in the last fortnight to illustrate there is no substitute for face to face meetings.
First, I met with a client prospect in December last year regarding R&D Tax Credits. We discussed many issues and initially all they wanted to do was negotiate our fee downwards as they had spoken to other providers on the phone and e-mail and had cheaper quotes than us. Because I was there chatting with them personally, I was able to find out far more about their future ambitions, their current challenges and what they were really looking for in terms of financial support and advice.
Long story short, couple of meetings and we are now acting for them in an R&D capacity, but additionally we are going to be helping them with many other aspects of their growth in terms of Corporate Finance, Land Remediation, RDA’s, etc. Very exciting as this company has massive ambition. Second, the reverse side of the coin. I have recently been following up on leads we received last year but never progressed.
One such company told me they had just received their first R&D Claim pay-out and it had been handled by a competitor of ours! When I enquired why they did not use us (we came highly recommended), they said all my colleague did was speak with them on the phone initially and send them a contract, our competitors went to see them!
Just one example of why you can never beat a face-to-face meeting - it could lead on to great things!
Arrange a meeting with Johno
If this article has inspired you to reach out and meet somebody, why not arrange a call or meeting with Johno or one of our other advisors? We'd love to buy you a coffee and learn more about your ambitions to see how Aspen Waite could support you.