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[Message to Management]: Are Your Salespeople Space Cowboys?

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space-89132_640Don’t let your sales team rely too heavily on technology.

Remember the movie Space Cowboys (2000)? Four long-retired test pilots—played by Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner, Clint Eastwood, and Donald Sutherland—are sent into space to repair an old Soviet satellite, a mission only they know how to accomplish.

As this is Hollywood, they are teamed up with two young astronauts who see them as geriatrics—out of shape and out of date—and treat them like they belong in an old-age home. As they prepare for the mission, there is political maneuvering (when isn’t there?) and lots of derision and skepticism aimed at the abilities of the old “cowboys.”

During the training simulations, our heroes instruct the new guys how to land a space shuttle manually, which the young astronauts think is ridiculous, insisting that with such a great, modern machine, all they need to know is how to make an instrument landing.

You might guess what happens. On re-entry, the shuttles’ computer system is non-responsive, and the team must land it manually. Point made. (I love the great facial expressions as they exit the shuttle.)

A Well-Oiled Machine?

Machines have gotten even more sophisticated in recent years. We’re not exactly living like the Jetsons just yet, but we’re closer than many of us ever thought we’d live to see.

Yes, technology lets us do many things better and faster, but for some tasks, the old-school ways still work best, especially in sales. When it comes to communicating with clients and prospects—building the kind of relationships that increase sales and revenue—there’s simply no gadget, gizmo, or automated process that can replace the power of a real human connection.

Take Your Team Back to Basics

As a sales leader, it’s your job to make sure your team remembers that sales is still a person-to-person business.

Technology offers salespeople some terrific tools, but when it comes to closing deals, nothing replaces a personal conversation. Customers decide whether to buy from your company based on the relationships they have with your sales team, so being able to make those “manual” connections is more important than ever.

Relationships are one of the biggest competitive differentiators a sales organization can have. While other companies are mired down with technology, your team is meeting with clients and having conversations that convert into sales.

Carefully monitor the activities of your salespeople. It’s up to you to ensure they know how to make a manual landing.

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Follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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