I was recently asked the following question in an interview:

“While business travel appears to be opening up, it looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future.  How should executives gear up to the changing times?”

My response:  

B2B software execs will need to determine when to invest in face-to-face meetings and when to continue interactions over the web.  I can easily visualize a new category, in addition to “High Touch”, “Low Touch”, and “No Touch” or “Tech Touch” strategies:  “Physical Touch”.  These will be situations where the customer and/or vendor wants a stronger relationship than can be achieved over the web.

Interestingly, while business meetings can be done quite effectively over the web, the relationship building that takes place over lunches and dinners, etc., has been lost with a web-only level of interaction.  It is often in these informal settings that deeper relationships evolve and richer levels of information exchange take place.  

Software vendors with expensive, complex solutions that require long implementation timelines will likely embrace a “Physical Touch” strategy.  However, even Physical Touch will likely be scaled back, with vendors sending fewer representatives for face-to-face meetings than previously, applying a hybrid approach with a mix of vendor players joining these meetings both face-to-face and remotely over the web.

Vendors whose products and services sit between expensive offerings and low-cost or product-led software may choose to employ Physical Touch as a method of outflanking competitors who stay with a web-only approach – this may become an interesting opportunity to differentiate…!

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