I’m returning to London on Saudi Arabian Airlines and I’ve just accepted a delicious snack served with coffee.
The snack is something I used to despise having to endure the box being opened on Christmas Day and tasting one just to appease my mum who adored them. The snack? Dates.
But during my business trip to Saudi Arabia I was re-introduced to dates and what a difference. Gorgeous, sweet and an amazing accompaniment to Arabian coffee. The reason for the difference in taste is quite clear – they’re fresh having been grown locally and quickly brought onto the plate.
Unlike British dates, admittedly originating from Saudi Arabia, but squashed in a box to aid transportation, sucked of all goodness and moisture to ensure more could be crammed into a date box and devoid of all freshness.
The comparison is obvious and it’s this contrast I want us to reassess how we treat people.
In selling and sales coaching, we meet with people in a fresh environment, usually head to head, eyeball to eyeball, belly button to belly button and it’s this personal relationship where the freshness can shine through and a successful relationship ensues.
However increasingly, one to one meetings are being confined to telephone, email, tex, instant messenger, avatar to avatar. These meetings have been reduced to my dates in a box picture. Devoid of personality, meaning and human connection.
The answer? Do what you can to meet with people, gain authenticity in your relationship, taste the real flavour of the person. So as long as they are a qualified customer or coachee, make the effort to meet with them, you’ll be pleased you did.
But the modern world requires electronic meetings. Yes it does, but don’t use these to replace all meetings. Try to make more of the technology. Conduct a Skype meeting with video rather than a phone call, put the Skype video into a big screen so you can see a lifelike image. There are things you can do.
The other persuasive argument to face to face meetings is my second experience of the Middle East. It’s even more about relationships there. They like to deal with people they know and trust; people they have forged a relationship with. Then they’re happy to do business with you for years to come. I like that; I particularly like the loyalty it creates. Invest our time with them upfront and we will be rewarded with a long term business relationship.