Technology, Communications, and the Real Thing

Technology, Communications, and the Real Thing

“Implementing technology will not solve our communications problems. If we aren’t good communicators without technology, we won’t be good communicators with technology.”

This quote is from an INC Magazine article in the early 90’s. I recall the piece, but unfortunately not the author (for proper credit). The point sticks nevertheless.

In the early 80’s I covered eleven states as a traveling salesman with an answering service as a means to capture messages from people who called my business phone (sorry, no cell phones at that time). For the uninformed, an answering service was a remote business operation with professional “phone answerers” (think of them as the opposite of telemarketers) who would answer my phone line if I was traveling and write down a complete message. They would then relay any messages to me when I called the answering service for my messages from the road. Then I would actually call the people back. Often the party I was calling answered the phone. There was no caller I.D., no message machine, no voicemail. If they were not at their phone, someone nearby picked it up or it would be answered by a secretary (if I was calling a big shot). They in turn would either take the time to write a message, or page the individual over the public address system and then connect my call to them.

The bottom line was messages got through, people received them, and action was taken as a result. But the ultimate form of communication was eyeball to eyeball. Traveling the eleven states I flew about 10,000 miles/ month and was gone three weeks of the month on average. A road warrior. But the results were great for building real business relationships with the people, their businesses, and the marketplace.

Even for buyers, eyeball to eyeball was the best way to really get the right deal for the business. A friend of mine back then was a buyer for First Interstate Bank (later acquired by Wells Fargo). He was in the process of buying a new IT system for First Interstate and had five prospective vendors do proposal presentations to his team at the bank. His team then rated these proposals one through five, one as best, five being the worst. Then they went out to visit each of the prospective vendors at their home offices. After that review, the rankings of the prospects were an exact reversal- the number one presenter became the number five, and the fifth ranked proposal became number one.

Zaca Mesa’s business has quadrupled in the last three years largely because our salesman- Matt Mauldin- is an “old school road warrior”. He is constantly on the road developing relationships with customers, our wholesale partner, and the market. Interesting thing about Matt is he is all over social media in terms of communications, but his success comes from the real, live, personal relationships he has developed with the marketplace.

Today, many people prefer to communicate via email, text, cell phone, social media (several choices there), FaceTime, and Skype, among others. While technology has certainly improved the opportunity to communicate from anywhere at any time and it allows for “multi-tasking” during communications,  technology simply cannot replace the real thing.

The same is true of the winery experience. You can “surf the net” or “Follow” or do whatever it is to stay connected to the winery. It’s great to get information via blogs and social media, but so much gets lost in translation- there is nothing like the real thing. Talk to anyone who has been here- they will tell you what a hidden gem we have here deep in the Foxen Canyon of the Santa Ynez Valley. The wildflowers this spring were amazing- orange poppies exploded on the mountainsides, yellow mustard added contrast to the green grasses, and violet colored mountain lupines scattered here and there making the area look like a painting by Monet. Tour the winery and smell the wine in the tank room, the oak in the barrel room. Come visit us sometime and experience something we can’t deliver to you via technology: that old-fashioned real world experience of tasting wine in a real winery in a real vineyard. Check our events schedule out or just contact us ahead of time to arrange a tour with your visit. Take plenty of pictures to share with your family and friends, but there is nothing like the memory that will stick with you forever of actually having been there. No matter how hard we try, communications technology will never live up to the experience of the real thing. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the real thing is worth a thousand pictures.