Recently I ran into an old friend of mine. A few decades ago (I’m not saying what decade), we both completed the Xerox training course together. Suffice to say that the “media” used for the course was cassette tapes! We had some time to burn while in an airport waiting between flights, so we had dinner and discussed how things have evolved in our industries.
She is now the VP of Sales for a large manufacturer, and responsible for a sales team that is truly global. We began to discuss the brave new world of “Social”. At first, she was quite unimpressed by it. She had no problem questioning my sanity along with my logic, and I can’t say I blame her. It was only 18 months ago that I had begun the journey of understanding this evolution in communication and how it has impacted businesses. I remember being in her shoes. At first, it simply did not make sense to me either, and I told her how I initially thought it was just an easy way out for sales people. They did not want to make cold calls so they would find an easier way.
Well, turns out “they” were on to something. The more I understood it the more I realized it was me that was out of sync. Before we began to evolve, our work with new sales agents was a challenge as we simply did not get them and they sure did not get us. Since then, our experience with working with those much aligned millennials has improved dramatically. So have our results. As they are now represented in every area and level of business globally, this is clearly a good thing!
As we continued to catch up, it became abundantly clear that my friend was still managing and training her teams as though it was still 2004. Both her and her teams are using modern systems, but their methodologies and results have not kept up. As I listened, her biggest challenge was that revenue growth was not keeping up with the cost of sales — no matter what or where they spent on marketing.
We had a rather amusing and long discussion about our experiences with millennials and both agreed that it was not them, it was us! The one thing she did learn some years back (and before me) was how to work more effectively with this demographic, or rather, how to let them do their thing, their way. So you’d think this would have led to her catching up to the world of Social, however while her organization had changed to work better with their teams they still had not changed their methodologies or kept up with how their customers buy.
So, while we continued to laugh at how bad we are with all the new technologies, we both now understood it was not how they were used, but “why”.
The most enjoyable part of our catching up and discussion was having fun talking about the success’s we had along the way. Our success’s were always about leveraging the best of both technology and systems to efficiently get to our goals without breaking the bank. I could tell you about how we both used to call each other on car phones that were bigger than bricks, but you get the idea.
Funny, as we laughed about our success’s and failures we realized they were almost all predicated on how ahead or behind we were with our competitors. This was just about always the difference on the big industry shifts, those who can both foresee and adapt will usually win.
Yes technology has changed, but that’s not the take away because we all know that. What has dramatically changed is how our customers become customers. It’s not through trade shows, it’s not often through a cold call or email, it starts online, period.
We agreed to connect again, just to remember the old days of selling.. When it wasn’t just about how many calls you could make, it was about how many objections you could answer and still get the sale!! Those good ol’ days of handling objections… you would have failed the Xerox course if you could not answer “6” objections efficiently and effectively. Hard to overcome objections these days, when no one is answering their phones!
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