Thanks to the pandemic, a lot more of us are doing business at home or in coffee shops. The art of doing business in person has become all but lost to many. Part of the challenge facing in-person business is the fact that, if we are being perfectly honest, we kind of like the change. There are a lot of advantages to doing business remotely. There are people who have done their jobs in sweatpants and slippers for over a year and have no intention of putting on an expensive, uncomfortable, and pretentious suit ever again.
There is also the matter of dealing with customer service, or the lack thereof in many retail environments. Instead of dealing with rude or apathetic clerks, we can just click a few buttons on the computer and have it delivered to the house the next day.
That said, some things are still better when done in person. Business is still a very human enterprise. Big contracts are negotiated and signed by people. There is something to be said for the firm handshake and the steely gaze of people in serious negotiation. Should you go back to business as usual? Or should you go completely virtual. Here are a few pros and cons of each:
Driving is expensive, dangerous, unhealthy for the environment, and fewer people want to do it than ever before. As a part of your regular workflow, it has to be considered a negative. One issue is auto insurance. If you don’t have a clean driving record, you are in for more expensive and harder to find insurance. Don’t be taken for a ride, you still have a few choices. Do your research and choose wisely.
It is even more important when your business relies on reliable transportation. Auto insurance is just one of the things with which you have to keep up. You also have to give more attention to routine maintenance. Failure to change the oil on schedule means that dreaded, engine light will be coming on sooner than you expected. Driving is simply not an issue when doing business remotely.
Pro: The Human Element
If you can get over the hurdle of transportation, one of the biggest advantages of doing business in person is being able to provide the human element. It is not just the physicality of a handshake and the subtle communication of body language. It is more ethereal than that. There is an ineffable quality of “presence” only experienced when in the vicinity of another. Some people have a room-filling presence. It is often called magnetism. Dynamic presence sells. And you will do a lot less of it when you are not physically in the room with a client.
There is also the fact that it is harder to reject a person to their face. if someone took the time to be there to make a presentation, you feel somewhat obligated to give it a fair hearing. Sometimes you win the day just by making your presence felt.
You know what’s less expensive than buying a plane ticket? Almost everything. You can get two plane tickets or one powerful, business laptop. Choose wisely. This advice is especially timely as more people are starting to return to business travel. The budget to reopen is already strained. Think twice about resuming business travel before taking care of other priorities.
Pro: Getting It Done
You know what makes the plane ticket worth it? By showing up in person, you have a better chance of making the sale and getting it done. Much of sales is emotional. Few things work on those emotions more than being able to see and touch the item being discussed. Talk about the vibrance of those drapes all you like. That will never be fully communicated over a Zoom call. Let a person hold the item in their hands and experience it in person, and you have done most of what you need to make the sale before getting to your close.
Driving is a pain. But the human touch cannot be duplicated. Travel is expensive. But so is not getting the sale. At the moment, social distancing concerns mean you don’t have to make this decision right away. But give it a good, long think before going back to business as usually. It will all become clearer in time.