“In the clouds” is an aviation term pilots use to describe flight conditions. Or you might have heard this term in a parent’s lament about where their teenager’s head is. Recently, it has found a place in the marketplace vernacular.
“Cloud computing” is the availability of incremental processing power that resides on an application provider’s servers, instead of your hard drive. For example, community-building technology resides “in the cloud,” like the social media platforms that have taken popular culture and the marketplace by storm—no pun intended.
But while cloud computing is another example of technology increasing business efficiencies and leverage, like all other high-tech tools, it still has not replicated one of the most elemental components of humanity—the handshake. There is no handshake in the cloud.
Successful businesses have learned how to profit from the speed and efficiencies of e-tools, including cloud computing. And those who initially discounted the notion of successful virtual relationships over the World Wide Web have been proven wrong. By now, most of us have met a prospect, delivered a proposal, closed a deal, delivered as promised, and maintained that relationship—perhaps for years—using nothing more than the virtual connection resources at our fingertips. But sometimes, there just is no substitute for face-to-face. Consider this story:
After a successful four-year relationship between a small business and a Fortune 100 business where all contact had been virtual, the small business owner wanted to deliver a proposal with a new idea for their relationship. The customer said, “Sure, I’ll take a look; just email it like the last one.”
But having never met the customer in-person, plus knowing the importance of this proposal to his business this entrepreneur asked for a meeting. “If you think it’s worth your time and expense, sure,” the customer agreed. The meeting was set, conducted, and the new sale was made, after which the customer said “I’m glad you came to see me. I probably wouldn’t have made this commitment without your presentation.”
This story is true—that was my customer and my sale.
As you leverage and profit from all of the efficient high-tech customer connection tools at the speed of light, don’t forget that the best choice might not always be found in the cloud. In the Age of the Customer it’s still a best practice to invest the time and resources to meet customers face-to-face, shake their hand, look them in the eye, ask them for their business, and especially to thank them.
There is no handshake in the cloud.
Be sure to check out my latest segment from The Small Business Advocate Show below. I talk about how to balance using the power and productivity of cloud computing with getting in face-to-face with customers when the time is right.