Posted December 10, 2010 12:57 am by with 5 comments

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There was a time when marketing men were like politicians. They had to shake hands and kiss babies, take district reps out for a lunch meeting and have dinner with the guy who could open up new territory but those days have gone the way of the piano lounge in the airplane. Now, we video conference with the reps, connect with customers by email and Facebook and use Linkedin to network with the guy who can help you open a store in Kansas.

Yeah for the internet! But Renee Huang of The Globe and Mail says that the internet is a poor substitute for the old fashioned meet and greet.

“Research in the business-to-business world suggests the No. 1 reason for selection of a supplier is the personality of the sales team or seller. This is above the technical specs, marketing form, anything else.”

Huang goes on to talk to several small business owners who say that face time with potential clients and customers was key to their success.

Now, I’ll admit that as a collective, we’ve gotten overly dependent on the internet. My friend recently lost her home connection for two days and you would have thought she was living without food and water. I’m not mocking, believe me, I feel the same way. I work and play online. I’ve never met 99% of the people I do business with, but that hasn’t stopped me from doing business and doing it well.

My husband, on the other hand, is a face-to-face guy. When ever I’m frustrated over a communication breakdown with a client he starts in with, “why don’t you try picking up the phone instead of this ridiculous emailing back and forth!”

Ah! Texting! That’s the answer!

I guess the biggest advantage to a meet and greet is that it’s harder to say no to a person’s face than to their Facebook. And I suppose that some people will reward the effort if you show up at their office with a box of cupcakes (even if you’re not selling cupcakes.) But when it comes to you, to your business, do you really think that your business would be better off if you could travel the country and pitch your wares one-on-one?

Face time, if you can get it, is a good thing, I’m sure. But when I count up how many business emails I get after midnight and on weekends, I doubt that anyone has time for a leisurely lunch to discuss the sale of a new product. That is, unless you don’t mind meeting at an all-night diner.

What are your thoughts on face time versus connecting via the internet?

  • There are so many people who hide behind the internet. They use it as a shield so that they don’t have to actually meet any one new. This is really breaking down our abilities to be social. Even though we are all on different social medias, it is definitely not the same as in person. Have you noticed lately that personnel interaction has become cold? People don’t look other people in the eyes when you talk with them. I even notice that I have to work hard to do that myself.

  • How the whole ‘in person’ thing plays out will definitely be around individual tastes, capabilities etc.

    I can do either but I do know plenty of people who abhor the idea of an online only relationship. They see it as shallow and very transient. That’s not a blanket statement, just a point of view. Others can operate that way and do just fine. This will not be answered anytime soon and I seriously doubt that we will live in an online only environment for the foreseeable future.

    Just my two cents, I suppose.

    • Cynthia

      (Man, the higher level math on this one is killing me!)

      You say that now, Frank, but in a few years, when we’re all living inside hermetically sealed bubbles to protect us from radiation fall out brought on by the extended use of iPads and iPhones, then you’ll be glad you’re part of the social media in-crowd.

  • Ali

    Hi Cynthia,

    Great article. I’d have to agree with you (and also Frank’s comment) that the modern marketing world is moving more to the online space, however nothing can replace a face to face meeting just yet. I encounter this all the time – regardless of how convincing you can be over an email or even a phone call the “old dogs” that hold many of the top decision-making positions have been there so long they want you to conform to their way, and meet on their terms, which is often in person. They haven’t changed because they don’t have to. I’ll admit that I’m more effective and persuasive in person and don’t mind meeting in person if a pitch isn’t going well, but it is used as my last resort. As more millennials and people who have adapted to the “new way” take positions of power at large firms I think this will shift.

    Just my thoughts!

    • Cynthia

      This brings up a point that we’ve discussed before. Now that so many of the power players are under 30, people who have grown up with internet, you can see where doing business the “old fashioned” way could rapidly become a thing of the past.