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Social Deja Vu: We’ve Been Here Before

TV_noiseEven when there’s nothing on, we’ll always have reruns.

You’ve heard it: Television will kill radio. Video killed the radio star. And technology will eliminate the time-consuming, face-to-face aspect of communication. Um, no.

Because the more things change, the more they stay the same—in sales and in life.

Old but Not Irrelevant

People have always been fascinated with—and even enthralled by—technology. But we’ve never been surrounded by so much of it. When I was a kid, the idea of someone becoming addicted to technology seemed like science fiction. But here we are—a planet of automatons walking through life with our noses perpetually pointed at our smartphones.

Growing up, many of us Baby Boomers only had a radio. My family was fortunate enough to have a Capehart. It was the newest thing: a radio and turntable in one. (We only had 78 rpm records. You had to be very careful, or they’d break.) We listened to sitcoms and shared stories as a family. The only way to actually “see” the news was in a movie theater, when black-and-white newsreels ran before the feature presentation.

Then came television, and while it quickly became a favorite American pastime, you couldn’t watch it around the clock. You watched every broadcast “live;” there was no such thing as taping or DVR. Everything was in black-and-white. And at 10:00 p.m., a big circle appeared with a message announcing the end of broadcasting for the day. We watched a show when it was on, and we watched together as a family.

Check out the movie Good Night, and Good Luck about Edward R. Murrow, played by David Strathairn.  You’ll be transported back to a pivotal era in TV broadcasting: the early 1950s.

The Birth of the Boob Tube

Many Gen Xers had a different experience. They watched TV in color and could record programs on VHS tapes. This was the generation of so-called “latch-key” kids. There wasn’t much family around to talk to and share stories with, so children started spending more time with screens than with people.

This is when the technology cautions began: Don’t watch too much TV. Don’t sit too close to the TV or your eyes will cross. Don’t stay up too late watching TV. Don’t turn it up too loud or you won’t hear people when they talk to you.

Now, with far more screens in our lives, it’s even easier to forget about what really matters—connecting with human beings. The devices have definitely changed over the years, but the cautions have not. We still remind each other to prioritize people over technology: Don’t check messages in meetings or at events. Don’t answer your phone at meals. Don’t tune out people who are talking to you because you get distracted by your phone.

The cautions remain the same, because deep down, we all know people are more important than devices. We just forget sometimes.

Been There, Done That

We’ve been here before. We become enamored with any new technology—whether it’s a motor car, radio, television, video, or the smallest, coolest device to show off. We’re giving our kids the same cautions, but we’re not practicing what we preach.

Where’s the family to read together, listen together, and learn together? Where’s the dinner table conversation? Where are the relationships that matter? Even when we’re together, we’re too busy playing on our devices to connect.

The Lesson for Salespeople

This isn’t just dangerous territory for families; it also makes for bad business.

What does this mean for salespeople? That we must spend less time connecting online and more time building connections that count.

Marketing automation, CRM, social media, and other technological tools enable us to sell more efficiently and cost effectively. But the most powerful tool in your sales toolbox is still you! It’s you—having conversations, building relationships, looking people in the eye, shaking hands, and talking. Technology doesn’t close deals. You do.

Connect with No More Cold Calling

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

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