​Avoid Sales Extinction: A 20-Day Plan for Sales Pros Over 40

July 16, 2015 Gregg Thaler

Attention sales pros over 40: If your first CRM was a metal box with cardboard date/alphabet dividers like mine was, or if you remember using the Yellow Pages for finding phone numbers, then this post is for you.

In today’s 21st century sales landscape, you are now competing with, or managing, cross-trained, data driven, technology enabled, social-media-is-second-nature, Millennial revenue-producing machines. If you were weaned on blue and white D&B cards, and you are not focused, disciplined and determined to stay current with the latest sales techniques, best practices and technology, you are going to be left behind.

extinct sales pros - dodo bird

You will become irrelevant at best, or more likely, extinct like the Dodo bird.

Don’t despair.

This post is meant to be both instructive and cautionary. Many people don’t realize when the cheese has moved. Do these things 20 days in a row so they become a habit. Repetition is the mother of learning.

Get hip to the jive

Language and culture are inextricably intertwined. If you want to fit in, you have to talk the talk. In a millisecond,someone in the know will recognize that you are out of touch if you fumble the lingo. No, a sales hack is not something you kick, and it is not illegal either. Speaking of sales hacks, an easy way to get hip is to join the Sales Hacker Community. Spend twenty minutes/week reading the discussions. Attend a Sales Hacker event or the Sirius Summit. Do anything Max Alschuler is doing; he’s the future of sales thought leadership. Whatever you do, don’t ever actually say “Hip to the jive” out loud. I did, in front of my 15 year old daughter, Lily. Once.

Learn a new trick

If you still have a job in sales, you’ve probably managed to learn Salesforce. If not, run don’t walk to Salesforce’s YouTube channel. As you’ve probably heard more than you care to, if it is not in Salesforce, it didn’t happen. You know who knows all the new tricks? Your SDR/BDR team, the folks responsible for sales development. Ask a BDR what the new new thing is. Try it out. One of my favorite new things is Charlieapp. All you really need to do is subscribe and grant Charlie access to your calendar. It will help you say, sincerely and genuinely, with minimal effort and maximum impact to the new people you meet, “You’re an interesting person.” possibly the most powerful thing you can say to someone to make the right first impression. Rapportive is a must. So is a scheduling app like ScheduleOnce or Calendly. Lastly, no 21st Century salesperson can work effectively on the modern day sales landscape without a data utility like Capture.

Be fit, live long and look your best

Four years ago, my partner and childhood best friend looked at me and with the kindest of intentions said some very unkind things to me about my appearance. In addition to wanting to live and the path I was on was not leading toward longevity, and I knew he was right. I changed my diet and now do a high-rep low weight workout and 30 minutes on the elliptical three times a week. If you are within ten years of my age (49) I can do more chin-ups than you. Gents, trim your eyebrows, pluck those hairs out of your ears. Stand up straight. If you are losing your hair, get on with it and get out, at most, the #2 clippers. Carry gum. Ladies, you are beautiful no matter what. Fair or not, appearance matters. Get a new LinkedIn photo taken by a pro. Your head should take up 80% of the photo. Your profile will mostly be viewed on a mobile device, so frame it right.

Don’t be an enigma or a stranger

A buyer is much more likely to to buy from a salesperson who is also a thought leader. Buyers will certainly check you out on LinkedIn. It is up to you what they find. Join LinkedIn Groups that interest you, and comment sincerely, avoid self promotion, which is hard, that’s not the why of social media. If you want social media lessons, follow Jill Rowley everywhere. Spend as much time a week investing in your online persona as you do watching Game of Thrones and what happened to Mance Rayder won’t happen to you. Write a blog post for your company’s site. Write a blog post for a vendor or customer. Blogging will burnish your personal brand. Tweet a few times a week. Learn how to retweet. Share (only) content that interests you and your connections. Whatever you sell, there is a community. Be part of it.

Remember what you thought in 1993 the first time you heard this line from Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glenross, “A bunch of losers, sitting around in a bar, [saying] ‘Oh yeah, I used to be a salesman, it’s a tough racket.'” He probably meant something like, “I know some poor
schlemiels like that…”

Here’s a sobering thought, that was almost a quarter century ago. If you don’t follow this plan, that schlemiel could be you. You can avoid extinction.

The metal box worked just fine by the way. I had a process and followed it. It worked.

Learn more sales tips with the free ebook below.

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