I do not want to meet you face to face. It is nothing personal. I think you are a great person, and for once it is me, not you. Most business owners are brought up around the idea that all business is local, and you should be able to see who you are working with to move forward on a deal.
While, I get that idea for business, the challenge is that in business today everyone not only wants that tight bond, but they also want the best deal possible. So, about a year and a half ago I set out to find a tightrope balance between customer service and low-priced, quality service.
Here is what I found. Ready for this secret…. I do not need to meet any business face to face. Seriously!
The fact is your time is valuable when you are working with others. The only reason most business owners want to meet with me is because they need reassurances that I will not A. run off with their first born child; B. steal their money; C. pull one over on them.
You see we all have stories. There is the story about how this one time at business camp, a guy tried to get me to pay $500,000 over the phone for a new thing-a-ma-bob! Now, I do not trust anyone else who I do not meet.
The challenge is then do I include in my pricing all the meetings that go nowhere with clients who DO move forward? Or do I find another way around this altogether.
While some of these ideas might seem cold, I look at my conversations this way. I keep prices down by doing the majority of the work myself. If I have to meet you, and do not have time to finish your project by myself I then have to hire someone and charge you a premium. Are you OK with that? If so, great! Let’s meet!
So how do I determine when to meet someone face to face? Here is my process for meetings.
- Avoid face to face when possible to limit drive time. Phone works just as great as face to face. When I was in real estate I drove everywhere. I learned driving is a lot of time from your day, and one of the biggest detriments to my success.
- When you do have to meet with people, have somewhere to go after. If I have to go out of the house, I want to meet with two people that day if possible. What is the point of meeting one person on Monday and another on Tuesday. Yuck! What a monumental waste of time! I love my Thursday morning networking group, because a once or twice a month I will meet up with someone afterwards to discuss a deal.
- If someone cancels do not have a face to face again. While I have heard a number of excuses valid and not valid, most conversations can happen on the phone anyways. The only reason I need to go out to meet a client is because they want to know I am real, and local to the area. I guess we need to do some more Mollycoddling about their story. Other than that we do not owe them two visits, because they could not make the first. Note: if it was your fault then go again!
- Here is my favorite client response to speaking on the phone or Skype. I do not trust talking on Skype or the Phone. Additionally, I do not believe in paying through PayPal. My information is not safe. Hm! So, exactly what type of online marketing campaign do you want to run?
- Charge a premium for meeting people. I am in the beginning phases of two-tiered pricing on my products. One for people I meet face to face, and the other for those I speak on the phone to about their needs. Why should someone who takes action quicker, and requires less time pay the same amount as someone who wants to meet me 5 times. Word of Caution: I generally find the more they want to meet with me, the less committed they are. If they do not know if they can trust you after 1 face to face and a phone call when will that magic date happen? Good news is that they do not have to marry you!
This did not start out as a pulpit post, however, I was a little preachy here. My main point is that we all need to value our time: you and I. So, make your face to face appointments with an eye on getting the most out of both parties time.
Wow really interesting article, and I must admit I do agree. I used to work in web development ( please note USED) and what crippled the business production the most was the amount of pointless meetings we would have to hold with customers who already had had a great deal money wise ( website development is competitive work) and had already come in for a previous pre sales meeting. They knew who we were, where we were located and what we did and yet I would lose my head coder and several designers and integrator days a week to meetings which A. proved fruitless and almost felt like they were holding it to make them feel more businessy B. The customer was almost always late for said meeting, often by several hours and therefore pretty much lost me a whole day of a particular technician ( don’t start anything complicated in programming if you have to stop for a meeting half way through) C. Where the customer would linger around the office chatting to members of staff long after the meeting. What do you do? Be rude and tell them the truth or politely smile and hope that they can see that we are busy, and that I have been standing by the technician they are small talking with for 25 minutes with a note book, so I have obviously things to discuss with them for other customers? To be very fair though, there was a good amount of positive, productive meetings held as well which were prompt, informative and to the point and everyone left happy and more trusting of each other but the majority where in the fact more like the above (believe it or not). I think it’s the software industry, people just don’t understand that it takes time. A LOT of time..you can’t build a house in an hour so why do people think you can build a replica of ebay/ facebook/ amazon/ whatever in said time?
Exactly what I am talking about! Sounds like your meetings were with larger companies who liked to feel important and strut their stuff for everyone to see. Fortunately, a lot of the smaller clients I work with do not want to show how important they are. They just want to know what we do will work for them. Still, it takes time for them to believe, and then time for us to get the work done.
That is exactly why I am moving to a more remote system, because I want to focus more on getting things done right for the client. I am a chatty person, and love meeting people, but the problem is the more I do this, the less I get done for my clients.
I’ve found its easier to close in person. But, I need to be direct with clients about face to face meetings. They do take way to long. I have one driving me crazy right now wanting weekly status meetings. yuck.
It is 100% easier to close face to face. I am not disagreeing with that. However, if you can talk to 10 people in the time it takes to speak with one face to face and close 2 out of ten, which is better all other things being equal?
On the weekly updates. That is fine! We send out weekly emails. 100% with you on that.
I just love your blog Andy! 🙂 This is a really good article.
Thank you so much! Glad you enjoy my blog and this post.