"Excellence is achieved by the mastery of the fundamentals." Vince Lombardi
A funny thing happened a little while ago during a very exciting family Friday night attic cleanout at home. My two young teenage boys traveled at near warp speed down the stairs bewildered and astonished with an unknown object. It caused the entire project to come to a screeching halt. For them, familiar in shape, but foreign in design. They asked excitedly, "What is this thing?!" "Why, it's a typewriter," I said rather casually in response.
Yet again, I had to explain some situation, product or event from my youth that my young ones had absolutely no comprehension about. Curious and eager to try this relic out, they proceeded to grab the 3x5 notecards from another box that had just come down and they spent the next hour typing notes and laughing uncontrollably, as overjoyed with their discovery as a paleontologist who had just uncovered an entire T-Rex skeleton intact might have been.
It occurred to me, as these types of situations often do, that the more things change the more they stay the same. While I wouldn't advise many new sales people to use cold-calling as their main prospecting tactic, there are some timeless skills that all of us would do well to remember.
1. Be unexpected. In a world of limited time but unlimited choices, how do you stand out from the competition? In psychological terms, that typewriter was a 'pattern interruption.' It was so unique it had to be paid attention to. It caused the entire intention of the evening to be derailed. If we simply blend in with the crowd and look just like everyone else without differentiating ourselves, we will get noticed much less often than we could if we strive to stand out from the ordinary
2. Create excitement. Different is a good start but if it does not create a "buzz" then different can still be ignored. That typewriter made my boys; ask questions, touch and feel it, use it, make something with it, and involved them to get something out of it. Getting your prospects to participate more actively in the sales/buying process in some manner helps them more fully experience what the potentially positive outcome of working with you can be.
3. Go Old School. Yes, even me as a dinosaur understands the value of social media, email and all other technological means of communication. They are invaluable and not going away. But you may be surprised by the response I both get and give by communicating with good old-fashioned mail. Direct mail marketing is making a remarkable comeback in effectiveness for the simple reason that it is easier to find creative ways to stand out than via email and other digital communications. And, if you take the time to handwrite (yes I said write) notes or letters, you may be amazed to see the increased response rates from those you send them to.
And, you don't even have to use an old typewriter to do that.