The days of worn shoe leather are over

May 2, 2013

By Bob Johnson, NAID CEO

I was recently thinking about how much the B2B sales have evolved over time, probably prompted by my fondness for the TV show “Mad Men.”

Remember three-martini lunches? Most of you are too young for that. What about when contacts were rewarded with extravagant gifts and exotic trips? Or when people stayed at the same company, sometimes in the same job, for an entire career? Remember the time when a contact shopped for a new service and it required them to get out a big yellow book, leaf through the pages, and individually dial up every competitor. Or when the proudest badge a salesman displayed was his worn out shoe leather? There was a time when a salesperson actually took pride in bragging that he/she could “sell an ice cube to an Eskimo.” I remember when using blast faxes was a sign of cutting edge marketing? I am not too proud to admit I did blast faxes.

Nowadays your contact or prospect for an account changes every six months. Or your contact is not a single person but a committee. Now your contact can access every competitor in his/her vicinity. And, if they so choose, they can learn as much as you know (or more in some cases) about data destruction by spending 30 minutes on the Internet. If you call or arrive unexpectedly, without some kind of introduction, you are an unwelcome intrusion.

My sense is that most secure destruction service providers know the old way of selling does not work anymore, so they don’t do it. On the other hand, because they are not quite sure how to execute the new ways of selling, which will attract new business, they don’t do that either. Or, if they are, they are randomly or sporadically doing it, which is not much better than nothing. If you find yourself in this situation, the only thing you can do is wait for the phone to ring or for the RFP to arrive in the mail.

I hope I am wrong. I know some members offer value first, distribute e-bulletins, become the local experts in their field, hold their own educational events, embrace social media and content marketing, and give presentations in their markets. That’s what the new selling looks like. Please take heed if you have not already.