Face Time - use it wisely

The term "face time" describes the time you spend face-to-face with your customer. This time will be precious, so you need to use it wisely.

No matter how good your customer relationship is, you're only going to get so much time face-to-face with your customer. Use it wisely. Remember, if you make a pest of yourself, you'll wear out your welcome and that will reduce your customer's interest in spending time face-to-face with you.

Good Face Time Activities

The following activities are a good use of the limited face time you'll have with your customer:

  • Project planning

  • Project review

  • Problem resolution

  • Meals

  • Recreational activities

Even meals and recreational activities like golf can be used to plan work and resolve problems. It's difficult to stay entirely focused on just eating or swinging a club, so squeezing in a little business talk isn't a bad idea at all. In fact, the meal or recreational activity often serves as a bit of a diversion, so difficult topics can be approached "from the side" instead of "head on," thus making the encounter more of a conversation than a confrontation.

Why Face Time Needs to be Brief

The best reason to make your time face-to-face brief and meaningful is to be welcome back again to spend more time with your customer. If you're taking up too much time, your customer won't view you as a good use of their time and you'll be avoided. With respect to giving a speech, it was Franklin Roosevelt who said, "Be brief, be sincere, be seated." The same philosophy applies to proposing a project or pitching a sale.

Why Face Time Needs to be Regular

I had a boss once who switched service providers because he finally realized that he was seeing and hearing more from a competitor, who hadn't been selected to provide service, than he was from the firm that was supposed to be there providing service and solving problems. Problem solving was a key to the competitor winning the contract away from the incumbent, but it was also the regular presence (on the phone and in the office) that made a big difference.

Just be careful that you're not spending too much time with your customer. It's always good to ask, "May I call on you again in a month or so?" It's a sign that you respect their time and are aware that you're operating in their "air space." Plus, it's always nice to hear someone say "yes" as that gives you an opportunity to express how much you look forward to meeting with them again.

So, time spent with a customer is important, but you need to temper how much time you spend with the matters of business at hand and how much time is appropriate, especially if you don't have any pressing business with the customer (as viewed from their perspective). It should go without saying that a current customer warrants more interaction than a prospective customer, but spending time with a range of prospective customers is also important if you expect to drum up more business.

Done with Face Time, back to Small Business Advice

The only business you'll really ever be part of is your own.

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