Business Meetings: Skype or In-Person?

Are there different rules for business owners with prospective clients, rather than independents going on interviews?

Photo Courtesy TechTips-Salon

In my early career I can remember traveling into NYC for an interview, or driving within an hour’s distance in my car. But when the digital age came along and our client bases opened up globally, those in-person interviews weren’t really needed anymore.

We had Skype now! We could go face-to-face digitally.

We also have assorted videos of ourselves so others can get to know us, the face behind (or in-front) of the business.

I bring this up because in the last two weeks I’ve had an issue come up, and I’m debating whether I made the right decision. A potential client contacted me and asked me to write an estimate for a project, which I did. It wasn’t easy to get the right information from them but I managed to get a few quick photos, which helped. I sent my proposal off and then a few days later they asked if I could come meet them in person to discuss the project. Originally I said yes until I saw where they were located and it wasn’t going to be easy to get there, and would take an entire day. Then I found out they hadn’t decided on me, but were still interviewing all the candidates, as if for a full-time position.

Given my current work load and the “if” hanging there, I asked if we could Skype instead. They wouldn’t. I thought about this for a few days and decided to cancel the meeting and will assume I have lost the project.

My reasoning for this was simple. What if I weren’t an hour away but on the west coast? Even if I was the perfect business to handle their project, they would only work with someone who can be in the room with them? If they were making this process hard, would the entire project be hard as well?

I have written before about the lessons I’ve learned from reading Mike Michalowicz’s “The Pumpkin Plan” and one very important one is to recognize the clients or projects that don’t seem like a good fit and instead nurture the business relationships that one does has, making those clients happy so they turn into brand advocates for you.

What do you think? Is Skype or Facetime enough today? Should I have gone?