As a referral selling expert, I’ve been called “old school” a time or two, and in some ways, perhaps I am – not because I reject technology, but because some of the old ways are still the best ways.
Remember the movie Space Cowboys (2000)? Four long-retired test pilots—played by Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner, Clint Eastwood, and Donald Sutherland—are sent into space to repair an old Soviet satellite, a mission only they know how to accomplish.
As this is Hollywood, they are teamed up with two young astronauts who consider them geriatrics—out of shape and out of date—and treat them like they belong in an old-age home. As they prepare for the mission, there is political maneuvering (when isn’t there?) and lots of derision and skepticism aimed at the abilities of the old “cowboys.”
During the training simulations, our heroes instruct the new guys how to land a space shuttle manually, which the young astronauts think is ridiculous, insisting that with such a great, modern machine, they only need to know how to make an instrument landing.
If you haven’t seen the film, you can probably guess what happens. On re-entry, the shuttle’s computer system is non-responsive, and the team must land it manually.
Not only do the senior astronauts get their chance to shine, but the film is an excellent metaphor for prospecting. Technology can only get you so far. You also need human beings capable of landing the deal.
A Well-Oiled Machine?
Machines continue to get more and more sophisticated. AI, big data, and predictive analytics have shifted the way the world works. Google always knows where we are, we have apps telling us where to park, and most people don’t even step foot in physical banks anymore. We’re not exactly living like the Jetsons just yet, but we’re closer than many of us ever thought we’d live to see.
Technology lets us do many things better and faster, but for some tasks, the old-school ways still work best, especially in sales. When it comes to communicating with clients and prospects—building the kind of relationships that increase sales and revenue— there’s simply no gadget, gizmo, or automated process that can replace the power of a real human connection.
Take Your Team Back to Basics
As a sales leader, it’s your job to make sure your team remembers that sales is still a person-to-person business. Technology offers salespeople terrific productivity and research tools. But business buyers make decisions based on the relationships they have with your sales team, not with your technology.
Your relationships are your competitive differentiator. While other companies are caught up in the digital delirium, your team could be meeting with clients and having conversations that convert into referrals and sales. Just make sure they know how to make a manual landing.