No handshake, no worries: Sealing deals in this new era

The machinations of business have changed dramatically in 2020. Not too long ago, the humble handshake was the symbol of a deal done. Now, the idea of shaking someone’s hand evokes germy thoughts. Will the handshake come back into vogue? Or is it forever gone?

Already, the Internet is abuzz with articles sprouting various views on the death of the handshake. Some people think it’s too ingrained a habit to die out completely; while others think that our heightened fears of disease will see handshakes disappear from our stable of social graces.

Regardless of what happens in the future, right now, handshakes are a no-no. So what do you do instead? How do you seal those critical business deals?

Look to other cultures for inspiration

Across the world, different cultures and religions have their own ways of respectfully acknowledging another person. There’s the gentle Namaste, which is the traditional Hindu greeting. Or the ubiquitous Wai bow, a sign of respect across many Asian countries. Then there’s the Samoan raising of eyebrows, there are so many wonderful ways to greet and acknowledge others.

Even a simple hand-to-the-heart gesture – or a nod and smile – is a positive, universal symbol of respect.

Of course, changing habits is hard. And it can feel like you’re being rude by not proffering a hand to shake. But everyone is in the same boat right now and, in fact, they’re probably glad you’re not offering a hand because they won’t want to be rude back by not shaking it. So find a gesture that you’re comfortable with, and start using it – you’ll be surprised at how easy it becomes after a few tries.

Could you just wear gloves?

Some people argue that the handshake is such a fundamental part of business dealings that we simply need to find a new way to shake hands safely. In this article, anthropologist David Givens says, “The formal handshake for closing a business deal, this I think will remain. But there will be precautions beforehand. You may even use a thin glove to make the handshake.”

Putting a glove on before the symbolic handshake does seem a little counterintuitive. After all, a handshake is a symbol of trust between two parties. Putting on gloves may send the message, “I have to shake your hand, but I don’t trust that your hand is clean.”

The move to Zoom is helping chart the change

The explosion in online meetings is playing a big role in how we reshape our habits. One only need to look at the meteoric rise in use of the videoconferencing platform Zoom – which has grown from 10 million daily meeting participants to more than 200 million per day – to gain a sense of just how much things have changed this year.

With business meetings, medical appointments, recruitment interviews and more being held online, it’s literally impossible to shake people’s hands. Whether it’s a job offer or sales contract or a new supplier agreement, deals are being signed and sealed via videoconferencing, no handshakes in sight.

Sealing deals in the digital age

Handshake or no handshake, contracts and sales deals still need signatures from all parties involved. Docusign, a leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for contract lifecycle management, is the platform of choice for companies wanting to prepare, sign, act on and manage the agreements that keep business ticking over. Its eSignature solution plays a growing role in our increasingly digital world – with people not meeting face-to-face, it is so easy to share a contract or agreement while you’re in an online meeting and get all parties to sign it.

Not only is it a much more practical and convenient way to seal deals during this strange time of social distancing, but for many organisations the switch to eSignatures means that deals are done faster. Whereas previously, contract negotiation would take a lot of back-and-forthing, the digitisation of agreements speeds up the process significantly.

Learn more about the Docusign tools that are helping teams seal deals remotely.

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