Solid Old School Tactics in a Technological World

It’s extremely difficult to keep up with the latest technological innovations. In fact, it’s impossible. Things change too quickly. As salespeople, our jobs are already challenging enough without constantly having to learn how to use the latest and greatest new gadget.

How about if we take a break from this new stuff for a moment? How about if we do things “old school” for a change?

In doing this, we run the risk of being ridiculed. We could hear, “That’s so old school. Get with the program. This is the 21st century!” But can’t the old school and the new school work together?  Sure, they can. There is a reason older selling tactics stick around year after year or even decade after decade. Some of the tactics are just about common courtesy, while others are ways to keep you accountable (ugh…not that!) or give you the competitive edge.

Here are five “old school” tactics that are a great complement to the fast-paced technological world we live in today.

1. Pick up the phone.
Our lives are full of distractions. Lots of those distractions come from being constantly connected to our cell phones and computers — emails, texts, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, news feeds…the list goes on and on. If you want to stand out from your competitors, pick up the phone and make a live connection.

If you ask business people if their phones ring as much today as they used to, most will say they don’t. If you ask business people how many emails they get each day, their eyes will roll back as they respond, “Way too many!”

Instead of emailing a prospect, customer, or even co-worker, try picking up the phone. Hearing someone’s voice can be refreshing.  Even if you leave a prospect a few voicemail messages that do not get returned, you have put yourself in a position for an email to be positively received because of the effort you have made trying to reach them by phone.

2.Take notes on a piece of paper.
You may argue with this directive because you can type faster than you can write. But does the information you type stick with you?  Studies have shown that taking a pen to paper helps you retain the information better than typing it.

So next time you have a meeting, whether it is by phone or in person, set your laptop aside. Pull out a pad of paper and take real notes. You can always transfer the information onto your database after the conversation. See if you pay better attention and do your job a little more effectively. An additional benefit to trying this is the person you’re talking with won’t hear you typing and think you are not giving them your full attention. They know all about distractions, too.

3. Use tick sheets to figure out ratios.
As someone who has been in the sales training business (and done my own prospecting) for 22 years, this technique still works for me. Talk about accountability! The very next time you sit down to do prospecting calls, keep track of your activity by making simple tick marks on paper. Have your list ready. Go. One tick mark for every dial you make. One tick mark for every voicemail you leave, etc. Having a visual of the work you are actually doing is a good reality check.

Instead of stopping after each call to log in the information into your computer, use that piece of paper to write your notes and keep the momentum going. You start to develop a rhythm if you don’t stop in between calls. After you have gone through your list, then put the information in your database all at once.

This experiment does not need to go on forever. Commit to tracking your activity like this for three weeks. Then stop using the tick sheet for a week and see if you notice any difference in your productivity.

4. Handwrite a thank you note.
This is a lost art in today’s technological world. A handwritten note is something people enjoy getting. This small effort can give you a competitive edge. When I mention this idea I hear, “Well, I email them a thank you.” That is not nearly as personal as writing a handwritten note.

Remember, an email can be quickly deleted and forgotten. A handwritten note will be remembered. I write a handwritten note to everyone I talk to for the very first time, whether on the phone or face-to-face. It is a small gesture of appreciation for the time they spent with me, whether I am looking for a business opportunity or not. Take the time to write that note. You might be pleasantly surprised by the reaction you get!

5. Build strong business relationships.
We live in an information age, and that information is coming at us faster and louder all the time. In the midst of all that noise, we must remember, the key to our success in business is still building solid relationships with people.

When it comes to marriage, the stronger the relationship, the better chance it has of lasting. The same can hold true with a business relationship. The stronger your relationships, the more likely people will stick with you and not go to your competition. People buy from people they know, like and trust. This kind of relationship cannot be built by electronic communication alone.

Cultivate your relationships by using all means of communication — phone calls, emails, face-to-face meetings, sending handwritten notes, text messages, etc. We need to be smart about how we use technology and be sure we are relating to others in a personal way.

These tactics may be old school but they can still work. Take a breather. Look away from your screen. Do something different and see how these old school ways can boost your sales. You might be surprised!

Navigating the (Un?)Friendly Skies

My job makes air travel unavoidable. But covering great distances…in a short amount of time…in a very small space…with lots of stressed out people…can lead to some bad behavior. There is a shortage of patience and an abundance of rudeness. So let’s not personally add to the mayhem of flying.

Here are some dos and don’ts to make the skies a bit friendlier:

1.  Be mindful of the person sitting next to you.
There is no reason why we cannot be friendly to the person or people sitting next to us. If we are going to be sitting very close to someone — whether it is a one-hour or an 18-hour flight — why not just say “Hello!” This is common decency. You don’t have to have an in-depth conversation and bring out the baby pictures, but just saying hello is just being nice. And you never know — I have gotten business from people I have met on a plane just by striking up a brief conversation.

2. Don’t be a space hog.
Airline seats are tighter today than ever, so personal space on a plane is almost non-existent. Don’t be the passenger who decides to take up every possible inch and even infringe on your neighbor’s space. This includes taking over the whole armrest for the entire flight, using most of the middle seat legroom (if that seat is not occupied) or being the dreaded sleeping leaner. Share the space that is provided. That armrest supposedly can hold two arms. Having the middle seat is admittedly awful, but the other two seats aren’t much better. If you sleep, try to stay put. Be cordial and realize all of us are simply trying to get to our final destination without a gross story to tell.

3. Use your inside voice.
I remember telling my children “Don’t talk so loudly. Use your inside voice.” This applies to people on an airplane, too. Use your inside voices! If you are on the phone, or even talking to someone next to you, be aware of the volume of your voice. Everyone in your section of the plane is not interested in hearing your conversation. This issue can become a bigger problem when there is alcohol involved. Take a look around to see if you might be disturbing others. Or better yet, when in doubt, try to quiet it down.

4. Be courteous to your neighbors in back of you.
Airlines have certainly not made it easy for travelers by shrinking the seats and the legroom you get, but let’s be courteous! If you are going to put your seat back, do you really have to put it all the way back? Or could you just go back a little ways to make it more manageable for everyone? Also, before pushing your seat back, check to make sure the person behind you is aware that it’s coming at them. I have seen computer screens crack because the person in front of them whipped the seat back without checking first to see if there was an open laptop on the tray table right behind them.

5. Don’t be tempted to use your seat as your personal powder room.
Be careful of self-grooming on the plane. It’s understandable that we all want to look put-together when we get off the plane, especially if someone is meeting us or we are heading straight to a meeting or event. Doing a quick check of your hair and reapplying lipstick or blush is fine, but that’s about it. There should be no teeth flossing or — can you even imagine — toenail clipping (it has happened) or perfume/cologne spraying. Please! Save it for the airport restroom when you deplane.

So, the next time you are on a flight, be courteous to those around you — and especially to the over-stressed flight attendants — and your journey could be a lot more enjoyable. In the meantime, if you have any memorable air travel experiences you would like to share, email them to me I’ll publish the best ones in an upcoming newsletter and give you the credit. Safe travels!