Why did you write Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal?
I was alarmed by salespeople’s dependence on technology. Salespeople believe that technology can do their jobs, that they no longer have to talk to anyone, that they can hide behind emails, cold calls, and social media. It’s like digital snake oil, and it doesn’t work. Selling is our job, and our customers want to talk to us—real, live, experienced salespeople who know how to ask the right questions and help solve their problems.
Technology addiction has become such an epidemic that it’s even bleeding into our personal lives. We’re always “on.” No matter where they are, people are constantly looking down at their phones—on the street, at networking events, in restaurants, at home, and even in bed. They’re too busy conversing online to have real, meaningful conversations with the people right in front of them.
If you think back over your most successful business deals, I bet face-to-face, person-to-person, high-touch communication—a phone call, a video conference, or (best of all) an in-person meeting—has accelerated your sales process time and time again. Tweets and status updates don’t take the place of real human engagement. The personal connection seals the deal every time.
How has technology changed the way we sell?
This is the age of the informed consumer, the digital buyer, or “Buyer 2.0.” Clients no longer rely on salespeople for information. Buyer 2.0 is very good at homework. With a few clicks of a mouse, they learn all about us, our products, and our competitors.
But contrary to what some “experts” would have us believe, our prospects and clients still need us. Sales automation has not made salespeople irrelevant. It’s just changed what clients want and expect from us.
Buyer 2.0 isn’t the only one armed with new technology. Seller 2.0 (that’s us) has access to all sorts of tech tools. Our prospects might know a lot about us, but we know just as much (or more) about them. We also know more about our products, services, and industries. We know what works and what doesn’t work. And we have the experience to help clients figure out exactly what they need, not just what they think they need.
Because so much information can be found online, the standard is now higher for sales to add value to the conversation. Information isn’t knowledge. Knowledge comes from wisdom and experience. That’s what we have to offer Buyer 2.0.
What are the threats of social media in business? What are the opportunities?
Social-selling tools are great for research, identifying trigger events, and finding mutual connections.
But even if you gather all the social intelligence available on a prospect, that information isn’t going to give you much of an advantage over your competitors, who have access to the same tech tools and information. What will differentiate you from the rest and get you in front of the decision-maker hasn’t changed a bit; it’s still a personal connection and a referral from someone the client trusts.
Social media is a great way to do research about prospects and to find out how you’re connected. But it’s not the place to ask for referrals. Once you’ve identified a common connection to a prospect, reach out to your contact and have a real conversation. Find out how they know the person you want to meet and ask for an introduction.
It’s not social intelligence we need; it’s relationship intelligence. Use technology, but don’t rely on it to make sales. Pick up the damn phone and talk to your prospects and clients! If you don’t, someone else will.
You often define “cold calling” as reaching out to someone who does not know you and does not expect your call. How has that definition changed in the days of social media?
The definition hasn’t changed. Unless you know the prospect or have a referral introduction from someone that person knows and trusts, you’re cold calling.
What has changed is the way salespeople now delude themselves. With social media, there’s a new version of what I call the “warm call fantasy.” It goes something like this: You’ve done your research about your prospects on social media and maybe even identified a common LinkedIn connection or two. Then you send emails making the business case for why your prospects should talk to you. You really believe you’re not cold calling, because you know all about your prospects and ”know” the same people. Your outreach isn’t cold, right?
Wrong! There’s no such thing as a warm email, a warm phone call, or even a warm knock on the door. Unless you have a referral introduction, you’re cold calling. And cold prospects really don’t want to hear from you.
In Pick Up the Damn Phone!, you stress the importance of face-to-face communication. What counts as face-to-face?
Any connection you make when you’re not typing. You can pick up the phone, use your webcam, or (gulp) actually meet in person. Drive your car, take a train, or get on an airplane—whatever it takes to make connections that count. Get face-to-face with every major client or prospect, and you won’t have to worry about making quota anymore. You’ll have a rich referral network that keeps your pipeline full of qualified leads.
Bottom line: People do business with people, not with technology. And that isn’t going to change anytime soon.