Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Barefoot Wine Founders

By Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Barefoot Wine Founders

Need to Make Connections? Get on the Phone!

Need to Make Connections? Get on the Phone! 150 150 MIchael and Bonnie Harvey

The key to breaking the ice with someone new is meeting them face-to-face. You can immediately judge the impact of your words by their facial expressions. Their face has 43 muscles that are able to produce more than twenty expressions. Some of these are negative. If you see a negative one, you know right away how to direct the conversation. But you can’t see those facial expressions through email. If someone doesn’t like what you have to say in an email, you’ll never know until they’ve already digested and reacted to it. And, even then, you still may not know for sure.

When you meet them face-to-face, they know that you are giving them your undivided attention. You now have the chance to demonstrate who you are. This can be the beginning of a fruitful long-term business relationship.

If you can’t meet face-to-face, choose video conferencing. For at least the first meeting and any important conversations thereafter, you will notice physical feedback better through a video conference. Then, both of you will be on the same page.

The next best choice is the telephone. But why not email? You can’t hear the other person’s intonation through email. There are no moments of silence through email. The intonation in someone’s voice can say a lot—are they interested? Pleased? Confused? On the phone, you have countless chances to win someone over just by adjusting to their intonation.

Jeff Stevenson, our client at VinoPRO, says a phone number is worth more than 100 times as much as an email address. According to him, he’s in “the relationship-selling business”. He has the top telephone sales company in the wine industry, and he’s done this by mastering “an ancient form of communication: the telephone!”

More and more companies today prefer email marketing. The first challenge is to get people to open your email. Then, they have to want to read it. And finally, they have to make the decision to invest in your product. Sure, you can reach tens of thousands of people at once, but there may be only 50 buyers. Most email recipients see these types of emails as intrusive and impersonal, so why would they buy?

Jeff uses the “ancient form of communication” to his advantage. He made the Inc. 500 list (with three years running) and is currently developing his third call center. Why? People want to talk to a real person, especially when it comes to luxury items like wine. People want a real relationship. They want to talk to someone who has their best interests at heart. What makes real-time conversation so effective is personalized attention—it just isn’t possible through email!

Being in business through the “ancient” age of fax machines, snail mail, and the telephone has taught us that those technologies work! This isn’t to say we’ve abandoned email or text-based communication, but there is a time and place for them. Our experience with face-to-face interaction has shown us when we must be more personal. For example, when it comes to settling a mix-up, email is completely unreliable. For us, the place for email is recording correspondence, conversation history, and keeping track of documents. Again, it has its place. But you can’t un-send an email!

As convenient as email may be, sometimes you really have to just pick up the phone!

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