There is a myth that has grown-up in sales that the size of your Rolodex somehow equates to the number of Sales Leads you can generate. This is just not true.
I have been selling, in the formal job, for many many years now. One of the best things about Sales as a profession is the great people you meet, and the prospective customers that I have worked with to solve various business problems. I love it!
I have worked with customers and prospects in Retail, Healthcare, Financial Services, Telco, CPG, and Rail even the Royal Air Force! The time I invested in getting to know the people of various departments and understand their opportunities to move their business forward, has been a significant investment. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in focus, so I wasn’t just haphazardly making friends, it was all with a purpose to find areas in their business I could potentially help. I have met a lot of people, made some great friends and had the fantastic opportunity to go on a journey of sorts, in business investigation and understanding, with many individuals, to find compelling areas that I could help fix.
Many times the technology and services I represented at the time, were not a good fit, but by linking them with partners or others that could help, I developed trust, and we continued our working relationship to a mutual benefit of solving a business problem with my technology or service.
Business challenges continuously change, and the pace of change continues to accelerate – in every business or industry sector. Many of the people I partnered with are Senior Executives now, others retired, and some have changed jobs and industry-sector completely. Could I call on them? Yes. Are they a Sales Lead? Not necessarily. Nothing in life and primarily selling is “free.” You have to begin again to help them solve the business issues they now have in front of them, and their industry leaders have lots of new challenges.
For this reason, what drives me mad, is when I hear people ask “Do you have a Rolodex?” Yes, of course, I do; however you are missing the point! My Rolodex has no relation to the number of Sales Leads I can generate.
Sales is about solving current business problems, not just claiming that you know a bunch of people. After all, you might know them, and they might already have decided they won’t buy from you again (if they ever did before!).
The skill of selling is to be nimble on your feet and apply yourself to the situation that your prospect is in! With that as your guide, you’ll quickly establish yourself as someone who can add value. If you are intelligent and bring that problem-solving skill with the desire to learn, you’ll soon set yourself above your competition in the benefits you can deliver to your prospective customer.
Millennials equate to 42% of the workforce in 2017 – they don’t have a Rolodex (and might not even know what one is!). If the millennial sales professional applies him or herself to solving a prospects business challenges, you have the potential to bring unique insight and value to the problem at hand.
Sales Managers, if you want to excel and blow your team target, forget about who has and hasn’t a Rolodex; instead focus on the skills to add unique value that an individual sales professional can bring, and guide them to get there quickly. It is a person’s relationship building skills and their capacity to articulate business value that creates a Sales Lead.
For those who read this article carefully, and with a sense of self, you will understand that I am writing this positioning with a sense of humility. I only seek to help you understand and impact the people you are in conversation with. If this isn’t your object as a sales leader, you may be competent, and potentially good, but not great! And you will never be the trusted advisor that so many of you want to be. More, on this another time.
The Rolodex is dead! Long live bright, driven and business aware sales professionals who can bring unique, authentic insights to the challenges of others!