Positive side effect of the Corona pandemic: a. hartrodt has now made its sales organization even more customer-friendly. "We are increasingly using video conferences for communication. This is saving a lot of time for our customers," says Michaela Neubauer, Manager Sales Germany at a. hartrodt in Hamburg. A personal visit means a higher organizational effort for the customer. For example, they have to find a meeting room or to make a reservation for a business lunch in a restaurant. "For an online meeting, we can instead arrange a fixed time slot of 30 minutes," says Neubauer. This fits better into the tightly synchronized digital age.
Boom in video conferencing
The digitization push by Corona is reflected in the explosive increase in the number of users of online conferences. For example, the provider Zoom recorded up to 300 million participants daily in April 2020 – in December 2019 there were only 10 million. However, a. hartrodt prefers the provider Cisco Webex for video conferences with customers. Neubauer emphasizes: "A web meeting cannot completely replace personal contact". But the "alternative" could be, for example, a preliminary talk by video.
Limits to digital sales
Gestures and facial expressions are indispensable for the customer dialogue in order to explain a. hartrodt's freight forwarding services. "In the end, you also convince through your personality," Neubauer knows from experience. This only works to a limited extent with online meetings. In addition, "the personal conversation is more appreciated regionally". The size of the company can also be a challenge for digital sales: "Smaller companies do not necessarily have their employees equipped with laptops or company mobile phones," she says.
"In the end, the final seal is set on the customer relationship by a personal visit," Neubauer points out also for Corona times. What has changed is the frequency. She gives an example: "In the past, meetings were held every six months, but now every other meeting could take place online."