The Perils of the Q4 Travel Ban
If you’ve worked for a large corporation that’s been through any material cost cutting exercise, you’ve likely experienced the 4th quarter travel ban. (For the benefit of those who haven’t had the pleasure, that’s when companies freeze travel and related expenses in an effort to conserve cash in an effort to hit their numbers (or get as close to them as possible).
Now, some companies will modify the policy - limiting the freeze to “non-essential” activities. Typically, this means no internal meetings, no conference attendance, no non-revenue focused travel. I get that. It’s not ideal but it’s a workable policy to do what is needed to get your numbers to where they need to be. You’ve still got webmeetings and videoconferencing, which is virtually free these days and extremely effective. Add to this, tools that allow real time collaboration, and plenty of productive work can still get done. People can still get together to discuss, ideate and create.
Many companies, though, put in place blanket bans i.e. no travel by anyone for any purpose whatsoever. It doesn’t matter that you’re far along the path with a (potentially) material prospect. Or that there’s a high-revenue generating relationship being cultivated by multiple competitors (and you can’t be there to get a jump on the process). You simply can’t be there in person.
And that’s a problem.
Because one of the core rules of sales which, even in this age of ubiquitous, just-about-free HD videoconferencing, is absolutely true is that nothing beats meeting face to face. You and I might have had great conversations by phone, I might be fully convinced of the value of your product, we might have built one heck of a virtual relationship, but nothing beats actually seeing you, shaking your hand and getting to know who you really are.
We value connections. We value those who value us. And what better way to show that you value someone than to actually physically be there for them.
Hey, I care about this, about you, and I was willing to make the investment to come out and spend time with you. In other words, when you need something, I’ll be there.
That may sound old school to some, but I’m willing to bet just about anything that that’s one old school rule that’ll never go away. All else being equal, the person spends the time in front of the client (listening, learning, understanding) will always win the deal.
So cut costs if you have to and, yes, there are plenty of times when we need to. But do it thoughtfully, with some intelligence and never at the cost of your own future.