Friday, August 16, 2013

A Return to a Life on the Road

With so much emphasis on social media, Webex and email, I believe we’re losing one of the most important components in business: really knowing our customers. In our virtual selling environment, we sometimes forget who the real person is on the other end of the conversation.

Over the next 6 months, Ernst sales team members will have plane tickets in hand and a goal of regaining that old school skill of maintaining relationships face-to-face. I’m the vice president of sales for Ernst and this was my idea, so I’m leading charge. This sounded great in the boardroom, but after years of trying to minimize travel across our enterprise, I now find myself suddenly in that ever so glamorous quandary of being on the road again.

This really shouldn’t be that different from normal life for me, because I normally clock in a hefty amount of annual travel, but the idea of a campaign seems to add that psychological weight to the anxiety of knowing that it’s life again on crowded planes, airports, hotels, juggling business/family and all the potential calamities that go along with it.

My first trip was to Minnesota, St Cloud and Minneapolis. It was a long week but thankfully a really easy one. I hope to be so lucky every time I board a plane. Outbound found summer-crowded airports that actually moved fast, beautiful weather, those lucky first class upgrades on flights and schedules that weren’t impossible.

This was my first visit to St. Cloud, a quaint, fun college town, very walkable; almost like taking a trip back in time with its renovated, traditional, small town Main Street and the Mississippi River running right through the city.

After that, it was off to downtown Minneapolis for good food and high hopes for a break in the summer humidity. Good business, good people, all-in-all it was a successful trip; easy enough to make me fret the next cab to the airport.

Photo: Top, Minneapolis at sunrise; Bottom, St. Cloud street scene. Photos by Jan Clark.

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