Don’t be a Dodo Bird: A 3-Step Plan for Sales Pros Over 40

By Gregg Thaler

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

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

Don’t despair. The solution is simple. Follow this four step plan and you can avoid extinction.

1. Get hip to the jive

Language and culture are inextricably intertwined. If you want to fit in, you have to talk the talk. Someone in the know will know in a millisecond that you are not tuned in 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. Obviously, read the Salesforce blog. 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.

2. 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 of the new tricks? Your SDR/BDR team. These are the folks responsible for sales development. Ask a BDR about the newest shiny objects. Try it out. One of my favorite new things is Charlieapp. It will help you learn about the person you’re about to meet in order 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.

3. Don’t be an enigma or a stranger

A buyer is much more likely to buy from a salesperson who is also a thought leader. Buyers will certainly check you out on LinkedIn. 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. 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. 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.

Do these things 20 days in a row so they become a habit. Repetition is the mother of learning.

This post is meant to be both instructive and cautionary. Many people don’t realize when the cheese has moved. I remember in 1993 when I first 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.’” Here’s a sobering thought: That was almost a quarter century ago.

Today, it’s probably something like, “I know some poor schlemiels like that…” So if you don’t follow this plan, that schlemiel could be you, and the dodo bird.

About the Author

Gregg Thaler is a self-professed data quality junkie. A 25 year career in sales and sales leadership has instilled in Gregg a near religious belief in the direct connection between data quality and peak sales and marketing performance. Gregg is the Chief Revenue Officer of RingLead, a Salesforce ISV partner specializing in data quality. RingLead is entering its tenth year as a Salesforce partner. Gregg is responsible for RingLead’s overall revenue strategy and execution, encompassing sales, marketing, business development and M&A.

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