Personal business experience has proven to us that face-to-face meetings are the most productive for breaking the ice with a new prospect. The human face has at least 43 muscles that act in consort to produce over 20 expressions. If you see a negative one while you are meeting face-to-face, you can change your approach. But what if you are on email or a text and you can’t see those expressions? Well then you just type on – even when you have lost your prospect.

With face-to-face contact, you have the opportunity to establish who you are and demonstrate your undivided attention toward your prospect. You are building a relationship that may result in a purchase and perhaps long-term business in the future.

Next to face-to-face, we like video conferencing for the first meeting and any important meetings after that. It reminds everyone that we are all human beings, and allows us all to make adjustments based on physical and visible feedback signals.

The next best form of communication after that is, you guessed it, the telephone. Why? Because you can at least hear the other party’s intonation and sometimes the silent breaks, which in themselves will give you a big heads up as to their level of interest, understanding …or confusion. Again, you can make those crucial adjustments on the fly, giving you the chance to still win them over.

Our client Jeff Stevenson at VinoPRO is in what he calls, “the relationship selling business.” He likes to say, “We have mastered an ancient form of communication: the telephone!” He has the premier outsourced, out- and in-bound telephone sales company in the wine industry. He tells us that a phone number is worth 108 times as much as an email address.

Seemingly everybody is focused on email marketing. You know, coming up with the best subject line just to get folks to open your emails. Starting with tens of thousands of people just to get down to the 50 who will actually buy. And no matter what you say in an email campaign, it comes across as impersonal and the receiver knows it. The “funnel” is no fun!

So, how’s Jeff doing with his old-fashioned telephone sales? He is currenting building out his third call center, has 3 years on the Inc 5000, and has even made the Inc 500. Why? Because when it comes to luxury items (like fine wines), people want to talk to a real person, especially someone who they have spoken to before; someone who has demonstrated they have their client’s best interests at heart; someone they have a relationship with. In other words, it’s more personal, and people want personalized attention.

As folks who were in business for years before the information revolution, we had to rely on snail mail, faxes, and the telephone. And those ancient technologies worked! Sure, we are thrilled with the technologies that have made our lives easier since then – and we can’t live without them. But because we have had experience with face-to-face and live, real-time voice, we know what form of communication to use when and where. For instance, email is great to document what was said in a live call or meeting, but terrible at straightening out a misunderstanding. We rely on the records email provides with the string of correspondence that gives us a history of the conversation, but we hate the fact that you can’t un-say anything in email. No question about it, sometimes it better to just pick up the phone!

Who Are We.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse in 1986, to the board room of E&J Gallo, where they successfully sold their brand in 2005. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful and help corporations achieve entrepreneurial cultures to engage and empower their people.

Currently they travel the world keynoting at universities, corporations, conferences and symposiums. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals; along with being FOX News Radio Network’s Workplace Culture Experts. They are also the recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Award from the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Bradley University. Visit their popular brand building site at www.thebrandauthority.net. To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact info@thebarefootspirit.com.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders