What do the following things have in common?
- Tyrannosaurus Rex
- Loose Change
- Direct Mail
- Thomas Guide
- Hotel Lobbies
They all have to do with the growth of a salesperson utilizing the technical innovations available to them.
I decided to date myself and write about how technology has impacted my career in sales over the last 20 years. My first outside sales job targeted Fairfield, New Haven, Westchester and Bronx counties. I kept maps of all the counties in my trunk. I then got really technical using the internet and a website called MapQuest. Before heading out to my meetings, this required me to go to the website, enter my starting and destination locations, and then printout the directions. If I had multiple meetings in one day, I then had multiple printouts on the passenger seat. At the time, I felt as though I was ahead of the game. I was forced to be extremely organized to ensure that I would not be late to a meeting or miss it all together.
Thanks to the advancements in technology, I graduated to the smartphone, iPad and laptop and my way of doing business changed for the better. “Who Leaves Home Without Their Smartphone?” is a great blog backing up my sentiment about personal devices and our attachment to them. As a sales person, it is important to get back to clients and prospects timely to ensure success. That was the case back then and still is today – no excuses.
Let’s go way back to the mail system. A time when I would send actual business letters to prospects. Can you even remember or imagine life before email? Today we have the benefits of email archiving, which eliminates the needs for creating “hard-copy” filing systems to track correspondence. From there, I would follow-up with phone calls to make sure the letters were received and actively worked towards a first appointment. I had to rely on the person on the other end of the phone to confirm that information was received, unless of course I sent it certified, which could add up. As things progressed, I started to incorporate faxing as a means of communication. Faxing is no longer in my vocabulary. Although, I do have a theory that today, with all of the ways of reaching people electronically, you might actually stand out if you send a letter by FedEx.
I never carried a beeper but always kept change in the car for the payphone. Before I go any further, let me define “the beeper.” This was used before the dawn of Blackberries and cellphones. These devices notified you if someone was trying to call you by displaying the caller’s number. Beepers were great for those that did not want to return calls. There were all kinds of excuses, i.e., “I would have called you back but I was nowhere near a phone at the time.” Now with a cellphone, we can no longer hide. Another archaic term is the Palm Pilot a.k.a. a digital assistant or organizer. I dabbled with the Palm Pilot but did not jump in full force. During that time, I preferred paper organizers to electronic.
Now to get back to pay phones and calling cards. I can’t remember the last time I saw a payphone, something I now equate to the Tyrannosaurus Rex. They say they existed but there is no sign of them. During this era, I filled up my calling cards and ensured that my car was full of spare change (At least in CT it was only .10 cents per call for a limited duration of time). The calling card made things a little easier. When I was out of change, the card allowed me to make telephone calls from any phone and charge the cost to my home number. Regardless, when you have a “hot lead” or a client issue that must be addressed immediately, finding a pay phone and at times, waiting in line to use it, was a bit challenging. Comparing it to the pace of today’s world, it sounds unfathomable but we made it work.
As I mentioned, I kept a file full of maps and always had the latest edition of the Thomas Guide for the territories in which I worked. As defined by Wikipedia, “Thomas Guide is the title of a series of paperback, spiral-bound atlases featuring detailed street maps of various large metropolitan areas in the United States.” Once the internet came out, I graduated to MapQuest (more printouts) until finally the smartphone was born. I think back on this and picture myself driving around and reading those printouts and maps. I wonder what is more dangerous, reading a map or staring at the map on my iPhone, while driving.
Networking is a primary component of my job for lead generation and relationship building. Business cards are still relevant and important. In the past, they would be inputted into a database with no reminders on next steps or specific information regarding that contact, i.e., what corporate and/or nonprofit Boards they sit on. That has since changed thanks to the evolution of applications – specifically, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. As a salesperson today, I can track past and future activities, follow-up items, personal information about each contact, opportunities, etc. This works to my advantage to ensure that prospects and clients are followed up with, relationships are cultivated and new business gets closed.
Today, with the innovations in technology, I can work from anywhere. Whether I am in New York City or in Connecticut, I have a list of hotels that I call “my office.” As a salesperson I am on the road most of the time. Depending on the location, it is not always efficient for me to head back to one of The TNS Group’s corporate headquarters. I setup shop at a local hotel or coffee shop, get my Wi-Fi going and start prospecting and effectively communicating with my clients, to name a few. The advancements in technology allow me to work more effectively and allows our company to grow overall. Find out now whether or not your business is in need of tech upgrade.
As you are aware, technology is always impacting our personal and business lives. Through our Managed IT Services solution (Total Care), we help businesses overcome challenges related to the innovations in technology and the impact on their operations. It is our responsibility to be aware of new technologies as they emerge and then share them with our clients. Contact The TNS Group today to keep your competitive edge in the marketplace.