Stop Going to See Your Customers
May 18, 2016

Stop Going to See Your Customers

by Brian de Haaff

Imagine this scene: You are packing your suitcase for yet another business trip. You are pumped about the prospect of meeting with a big customer. Then, you start to think about the security lines. Missed connections … cramped seating … babies crying in your ear … lost luggage. (Feel your head starting to pound?) And that is all before you even get to the airport.

Business travel can be stressful — and it was once a necessary cost of doing business.

The problem is that many people still think that it is. In fact, I just had dinner with a friend over the weekend who, despite his best arguments, was forced by the VP of Sales to fly to Singapore for a series of customer meetings that he knew would go nowhere. Bummer — he was right.

But for every fruitless business trip, there is a company that knows their teams can be successful without leaving their office — or better yet, their home office. In fact, at Aha! we built our company on the premise (and promise) of remote work and remote meetings. Our team has the freedom to work from anywhere and be happy. And our customers benefit from that happiness, too.

It was not always easy. At first, some customers were surprised that we weren’t flying out for in-person meetings. But once they hopped on a video meeting with our customer success team, they found a high level of personal attention and a committed team ready to help. Ultimately, customers care about quality service — and they should not have to wonder how a lavish travel budget affects your fee structure.

Which begs the question: Why are so many companies burning money sending employees around the world to do what can be accomplished virtually?

Some companies still spend outrageous sums on travel and everything that comes with it, including expensive dinners and luxury hotels. They still believe that in-person meetings are required to make that genuine personal connection with customers — even though that money and time could be better spent elsewhere.

If you are still flying across the country to meet with customers, it may be time to reconsider the way you do business — because you could better serve your customers from right where you are.

You are likely wasting:

Time Have you ever calculated the cost of time spent planning, traveling, and meeting with clients? You may be better off staying put — being responsive to your customers, providing value, and simply getting more work done. You may not realize it, but there is a ton of “waste” when you are traveling, not to mention the time it takes to recover from jet lag and catch up with work when you return.

Money Business travel is a billion-dollar business in itself. In fact, U.S. employees spend more money on business travel than any other country (to the tune of $274 billion dollars.) Consider what you could do with that hefty travel budget. Those dollars could be better spent on building teams and investing in technology that will have a sustained impact on the business — but not if you are wasting it on long-shot business deals halfway around the world.

Resources Life does not stop when you board that plane — while you are away, others must fill in for you at home and at work. Think about that: You have to arrange for someone to watch your kids and walk your pets. Back at the office, your employees and colleagues sometimes need to step in to fill the gap you left. It takes a village for you to even go on that business trip — and is it really worth the trouble in the end?

You may have always believed that meeting with customers face-to-face is a requirement to land the sale. But times have changed, and it likely no longer makes good business sense.

Technology can revolutionize the way you do business. It is time to pay attention and explore new ways to serve your customers without wasting money on travel — even if you will miss the frequent-flyer miles.

How do you meet with your customers?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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