New Dogs – Old Tricks

By Tibor Shanto

While politics may be dominating populism these days, it does not hold a monopoly on populism, it is part of, if not the driving force for any like-minded group.  While most tend to limit their exploration of populism to political and social movements, populism, with all it’s positive possibilities and ugly realities, permeates and exists in other tribal groups and movements, like sales.  While others may want to define in loftier ways, in the end, populism at its core, should be “support for the concerns of ordinary people”; unfortunately for those who want to exploit it, it is more a means of “profiting from the concerns (and hopes) of ordinary people, while ensuring that their status will not change in a way that diminishes their opportunity to profit from the concerns of the ordinary”.

A great example of this in sales is the never-ending cry from certain corners, proclaiming, announcing or predicting the death of Cold Calling.  The meanest of these are those who predict, and put that prediction just beyond people’s willingness to remember.

Speaking of which, isn’t it about time we dust off all the predictions from last December and see who wins – loses – draws and who cares.

Last week we saw another and latest, in the long, never-ending line of soothsayers, declaring the end of cold calling. But this fellow had the foresight to put his prediction well into the future, into 2025, just around the time most will be to pre-occupied trying to figure out what happened to their tax-cut.  As insurance, and a means of gaining the support of large populist group averse to the activity, millennials.

Just as an aside, I saw Justice League this weekend, and it struck me that not even Superman has died and come back to life as many time as cold calling.

The Rub

Here is what I don’t understand, as a sales professional, and I know that eliminates a number of people in sales, but as a professional, why would one want to ignore and bypass a proven means of communication. A mode of communication, that when executed correctly, leads to direct interaction with your buyer, and allow you to formulate next steps in the case of qualified buyers.

The thing that struck me about the newest entry into the “Kill Cold Calling” ring, is that it was presented from the view of the seller, especially one dangerous assumption, “everyone prefers the same mode of communication I do.” Bullshit. People on a human level are not all the same, no matter their age, their hierarchal placement, and other key individual markers. None of which are known to us in advance, which means it is safer to approach this from the point of view of discovery, specifically what is their favorite mode of communication, to eliminate phones without even trying, limits your opportunity to engage and move forward.  You are not working at 100% efficiency by not including phone in the mix, It is not one vs. or over another, but “and how” based on “why”.

Add to the above that based on recent stats, you will need to interact and engage with 5 – 6 decision people in a given deal. One of them will respond to a call and or voice mail.

I suspect the real problem is a result of people misreading and misusing good old Marshall McLuhan. It’s not the medium, it’s your message, and changing that will take work, but it needs to start with an understanding that you gain more when you learn than when you avoid, as many sales populists tend to do. There may be safety in numbers, but there is profit in executing beyond.