I was speaking at a conference of developers and freelancers and presented with this question of meeting face-to-face or everything is virtual.
Being in New York, obviously there’s many opportunities to be able to meet people, leads, and potential partners.
When starting out, I did meet lots of leads at coffee shops, their offices, and other places. I’d either get in my car, or hop the train and head on to the location early for the meeting.
NY has traffic and lots of it and the subways have been known to be late from time to time as well, so I always went extra early because I’d rather show up early than be late.
Once there, I’d grab a cup of coffee or drink or whatever for myself and my guest. I especially did this with leads at the first meeting, but would carry that through when they became clients as well.
They would arrive, we’d talk and get to know each other and I would then go ahead and ask whatever questions I needed. Or we would talk about the project tasks and statuses of things. Whatever the purpose of the meeting was.
I’d then hop back into the mode of transportation back home and be on my way with the rest of the day.
Travel time loses profitability
For a one hour meeting, this often times would result in 4 hours of time spent. Between the prep time, travel time, and waiting time, profits literally would fly right out the window.
As I started to notice that an hour spent talking resulted a half day of actual time, I analyzed that against those meetings that were virtual.
I took into account if they were leads vs clients. And ultimately tracked the time spent and likelihood of closing the deal.
What I found was that leads that wanted to meet in a coffee shop often would be tire kickers that didn’t result in becoming a client. They were looking to bounce their idea off of me.
Leads that invited me to their office, well they resulted in becoming a client about 65% of the time.
Those that I would hold as virtual calls, whether that’s through video or phone, were somewhere in between.
But the virtual conversations I would have, took 25% of the time than meeting face-to-face.
I started to key in on the points where I could ask the right questions up front to filter out tire kickers better.
I started to only meet those that had a place in mind to meet me rather than me deciding on a place.
And finally I would hold kick-off calls when we decided to work together face-to-face.
See the value of the face-to-face can’t be measured to be honest, but it adds to a much higher trust factor that you’ll never get virtually.
Over the course of my career, I honestly haven’t had many local clients, so I when possible, I try and meet face-to-face some how.
Over time I’ve guarded my time with purpose. I’m only a single person without a sales team. So getting out there and pressing palms as they say, in a sales capacity needs to produce intended results.
For me it’s unacceptable and hinders the growth of the business to spend a half day to only talk with someone who is looking to get free advice for one hour when they have no intention on paying what I charge.
Lawyers, doctors, and other professionals guard their time, and so I took a page out of their books to do just that.
Most of my meetings now are virtual because I have leads and clients all over the world. That’s not to say though that I don’t meet up with people, I just try and do so as the relationship progresses.
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