Sunday, January 6, 2008

How email can cost you business!


At the risk of sounding like a Ludite, I believe that technology can be a hinderance to effective business practices. I believe being in your customer's face is more important than responsive email. The web while a massive benefit to customer relations is also a service spoiler. If a customer calls with a concern or a new piece of business, we immediately respond in email. Many sales people even take the order or resolve the problem with email. I suggested that you re-think your conventional wisdom and consider "personal service"

There is nothing better in my opinion than getting face time with a customer or potential customer to help build a strong relationship with that person. When I get a call, my first question is: "I think we should get together and discuss this further, when are you available?" When I have something to present, I could sent PDF's, but I'd prefer to show it initially in person. Face to face feedback is so much more productive and effective in selling the idea.

One thing a technology contact does is make you nothing more than a name to the person you're selling to. If they have no personal relationship with you, then you are essentially a number. You are vulnerable BIG TIME. With no personal relationship you are very easy to replace. Someone else who puts their bum in front of your customer will win. A face to a name connected to a personality benefitting from a relationship is such a huge advantage for increasing sales. Just consider how it is benefiting your personal brand!

I can't tell you how many times a customer has told me it isn't necessary to visit only to enjoy the meeting and send me away with more work. Email has no emotions. Never try sarcasm in email, but face to face it has it's place. The next time you are tempted to say, "I'll email you a quote by tomorrow morning - stop yourself - and set up a meeting instead. You won't regret it. Your customer will reward you also. We all like to be treated well. They recognize that time is valuable, so your willingness to give them some of it will come back at you in positive ways.

2 comments:

Alina Popescu said...

I totally agree using emails is most of the times a really cold approach. My question to you is how exactly to build a relationship when selling to different customers on 4 different continents :) Up to now, I've come to believe is easier to work with local partners and have them make the appointments. As an alternative, try to engage them more on the phone and instant messaging application and only then use emails. And the third step would be to take part in all industry events of relevance to get to meet more of your potential customers. Of course, when it comes down to key customers a business trip is the best approach.

I am not directly involved in the sales process, but am I close to a solution? :)

Ed Roach said...

Alina,

Another way is video conferencing. The whole point is to get face time. If you are working on 4 continents, I think we all agree that email must play a role. But to try to minimize the fact that eventually you may become just an @something and easily replaced, physically speaking with via video would be a viable alternative, especially if you took the initiative and set them up as part of your service.

And as you last comment outlined - if they are key customers, regularly scheduled business trips would round it out nicely. Overall it is the relationship we are all trying to build with our customers. Showing effort impresses everyone.

 
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