It was a very visual experience in many cases because you always did business looking at the person, their body language and “how” they responded as much as what they said. Oh, and don’t forget the “gut instinct factor” where if something just didn’t “feel right” you were out. And if you didn’t come prepared to “name drop” about the other people you knew in common, you were under great suspicion. I’m too young to have lived in those days – wait a minute, we’re still in those days! Meeting people and doing business face-to-face is still how the majority of business gets done. But what about all this new technology we have today and even social media? Where does that fit into this equation?
Wait, but what about the telephone. Back in the early days (somewhere around 1930) they were selling phones door-to-door to businesses and I’m sure received a very similar response as someone might get today with social media. I’m sure the conversation went something like this, “Greetings Mr./Mrs. Business Owner, I have something amazing to show you that you need to have to better and more effectively talk and communicate with your customers. It’s called a TELEPHONE and you simply buy one to sit on everyone’s desk. You also will need a couple other things – an equipment room with a switchboard and several new secretaries, about 1 for every 10 employees, to answer them so they can send the calls directly to your phone.”
How well do you think that went over – or more importantly, how easy do you think that was to sell? This had to be one tough sales job for people back then. Do you think the CEO might have said something like, “We don’t need some new fangled gadget to talk to our customers, we use face-to-face meetings, letters, and Western Union (wow, that is old, what happened to those guys), and have for decades. Why do we need something like this? Besides, what’s the ROI on these new phone systems? Why would our customers buy one or want to call us on it when we can meet with them face-to-face anyway?
Within a decade, no one asked about the ROI of the telephone – it was a staple for every business to REMAIN IN BUSINESS. Any of this starting to sound familiar? There isn’t anyone spending time figuring out the ROI of the telephone these days – probably not even a cell phone any longer. In the next 10 years, or most likely less, social media will be like the telephone. It will be THE WAY WE TALK TO CUSTOMERS and no one will be asking about the ROI because the ROI will be that you are still in business to answer the question…