There’s no doubt technology has evolved a lot in the last decade; even the last one to five years, we’ve seen and experienced technological advances that our parents or grandparents never would have fathomed. A lot of these advances have made life and business more efficient, and as the technology continues to evolve, those efficiencies will also continue to increase.
However, when it comes to doing business, especially in agriculture and rural areas, the value of a firm handshake and face-to-face interaction can’t be replaced by any amount of technology. Yet, there are some advances that can help simplify your business and help you create more time for those personal interactions.
If you don’t already, you should have a customer database system to track your customers and their orders, keep their pertinent information and log your interactions with them. Several software options exist, but if you are just getting started or have kept these details on your handy yellow legal pad for years, consider even a simple Excel spreadsheet.
Keep track of all family member names, contact information including address, phone number and email, record important dates like when they purchase particular products, when they host their annual production sale and even their birthdays. Track when you’ve communicated with them or if they have asked questions you need to follow up on. Keeping track of your communications will help you remember to check in on them on a regular basis without seeming overbearing or pesky.
Keeping a tablet or iPad with you when you make a customer visit is a smart move. And with Internet connectivity getting better with 4G and plans of 5G later in 2020, the ability to access those tools will become even better. Perhaps you are visiting a customer who has questions about the products or wonders what kind of Concept•Aid® to use, you can pull out your tablet and show them the Concept•Aid® Product Navigator or other online tools. We realize that not every corner of the countryside has these capabilities, but if you do, it will make talking to a customer a little easier and help answer questions as you go.
Some folks are just downright leery of anything that comes through the world wide web. And really, who can blame them? However, since news of data breaches have entered the mainstream media, consumers have developed a greater awareness of how their data is treated, and there is greater corporate responsibility around data privacy. New security tools are emerging for both companies and individuals, and as long as people remain aware, it is now becoming easier to do more business online with these increased security measures.
An increasing amount of communication is being done via text message. Many people still prefer a phone call or face-to-face conversation, but the younger generation relies on texts to have the written reminders and the ability to respond on their time. Texting can be an effective communication tool if you are sending a reminder about a meeting or order, or if you know the person has a busy schedule, it is a good way to request a call back at their convenience. And, texts will always be there in the hand or on the wrist of the recipient.
The need for personal interaction can never be replaced, but with the help of some of these technological advances, you can work smarter and not harder. Consider technology your office assistant that allows you more time to talk to customers and potential customers. With more time to make sales calls, you will be able to reach more people and watch your business grow.