Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, instant messaging, email, text messaging, phone calls (yes, those still exist). The list goes on and on, innumerable ways of staying connected. Progress, we call it. However, does the age of interconnectivity sacrifice genuine relationships? Does separation from direct human interaction allow us to be less committed and more sterile? One could argue yes, but I’ll play devil’s advocate for my generation, the infamous millennials, and say that the purpose of this media has allowed us to far exceed our limited means prior to their invention by allowing us to do a myriad of things. We can stay connected to distant friends, reach out to those who share similar interests, and, in a business sense, do things that took days longer to accomplish. Take, for example, sales. The art of following up with clients and leads could be a lengthy process of multiple phone calls, waiting, voicemails, all for a very limited return. With the assistance of technological advances, following up has become significantly easier, and is still vital to the success of business. While technology has made it so much easier, many sales representatives still struggle with this concept. It is imperative to recognize the value of this seemingly easy concept combined with aid from social media, all while maintaining genuine contact and relationships, just like the old days.
Have you gone out to dinner recently and tried to strike up a conversation, only to find your peers glued to the ambient blue light, having conversations with everyone who isn’t there? Or that painful feeling of leaving the house and forgetting your phone, even when you know someone else would have one if there was an actual emergency? We’ve become dependent, and this isn’t news by any means, simply look around and a smartphone is within arms reach of most people. What I mean to instigate in us is the importance of genuine relationships, those things that make us uniquely human. This is still possible with technology, and I am a proponent of technology like anyone in our day and age. Remember what makes us uniquely human, and make connections with people. Use the technology to strike up a genuine conversation with others, ask how they’re doing, where they’re going in life, what’s holding them back.
I’d like to argue that technology makes it easier to ask the harder questions, and once that barrier is down, genuine conversations flow almost freely. In sales, we have a hard time getting through that barrier with our customers. How do we, in a genuine, delicate way, get past the tough barriers? By making genuine, consistent contact, which is aided by various social media and technological devices, we are allowed to break down those barriers in less forceful way than face to face contact. While all of us are used to a barrage of emails from a mass email list, we feel attended to when we receive a phone call, followed up with an email, and then later receiving a quick tweet or mention on some other form of social media. By diversifying our follow up methods, we allow the customer to truly examine the benefits of the product being sold, without immediately deleting something without looking. (We all do it.)
I’ll leave you with some statistics about the importance of genuine follow ups in sales. 44% of sales people give up after one follow up, however 80% of sales require at least five follow ups. Now, five phone calls seems like an insurmountable task, especially people who are used to the security blanket that remote messaging gives us. BUT, like I’ve said, social media and diverse methods of outreach work! It all comes down to how we use that ball and chain that is always with us. Technology is our double edged sword, but with the right practice in forging our genuine relationships, it becomes our most useful tool in the box.
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