In the early to mid-90’s, the internet was commercialized and brought to the masses. For the next 5-10 years, we saw companies like AOL and Netscape dominate the first generation of the internet.
Remember how iconic AOL’s “You’ve Got Mail” slogan was? It even had a movie named after it.
When businesses started to bring the internet and e-mail in-house, it was one of the greatest evolutions of human society. Communications could now be transmitted at a blistering speed and the entire flow of business was improved.
When Sales Got Involved
As soon as sales leaders learned the value of e-mail, they took an advantage of it. Before long, they started to treat e-mail like the telephone. Cold calling was an accepted form of prospecting at that time; the same attitude and style quickly transferred to e-mail as well.
Soon, everyone in the B2B world was complaining about random and blind e-mails from people they didn’t even know.
“How did he get my e-mail address?” to “How dare someone contact me without knowing me?” became the questions of the day. It seemed nothing could be done, so buyers resorted to doing the only thing they could: deleting their e-mails. That still continues to this day.
It Happens Every Time
It seems that the sales profession can’t seem to get it right. Sales pollutes every communication medium, overwhelming the medium with sales pitches.
Do any of the following sound familiar?
- Print - Tons of useless flyers and circulars that are printed and thrown in the trash.
- Radio - Untargeted ads galore. While you’re waiting for the music, you have to hear about how a local lawyer can help you fight for insurance money.
- TV - The only day we feel like watching ads? Super Bowl!
- Phone - Cold calling to the point of harassment. Government regulations are now the rule, not the exception.
- E-mail - Technologies to keep unwanted people out of the Inbox.
Is it Our Fault?
You can agree or disagree, but despite polluting every medium out there, I don’t fundamentally believe this is entirely the fault of the sales industry. It is the fault of not questioning the status quo and repeating what others told us to do.
When you first started in sales, did you question why we cold call? Of course not! You did what you were told and the entire system of status quo persisted and expanded. Every time a new sales rep was added to a company, the cold calling machine grew larger. We fed the beast ourselves.
The Bottom Line
The sales industry has to evolve to something greater than just regurgitating sales pitches en masse. I don’t think we lack creativity, but we do lack the vision to think outside the dial tone these days.
The reason I’m so adamant about this is simple, buyers are back in the driver’s seat. They have more choice than ever, and it’s easier to research vendors.
It’s important we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. We’ve polluted every other communication medium in the past, let’s not pollute social media. In the next part of this blog, I’ll provide my observations on what the future holds for sales reps and social media.
Have questions on how to use social selling? I can help. Find some time in my calendar below.