Emotions surpass emoticons.

Digital communication only takes us so far … period. Even the best sales technology isn’t as valuable as business relationships. But it’s easy to forget that in the digital era. These days, people are literally addicted to smartphones, and salespeople are so reliant on social media that they forget to be social. But that is sales tech that doesn’t work.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Luddite. Technology is great when it’s kept in its place. It should enable us and make us more productive, and most of the time it does. But our total dependence on technology makes us susceptible to invasions of privacy and paralyzes our ability to do quality work. Simply put: Sometimes technology holds us hostage.

It’s time to turn back the clock. We’re missing out on the human, person-to-person connections that drive sales. We’re missing out on talking to prospects and clients, having conversations that drive business, cementing relationships that matter, and using the phone how it was originally meant to be used—actually talking to people.

This Is Your Brain on Technology

The average American spends at least five hours on their phone each day. More specifically, just under half of all Americans spend between five and six hours on their phones per day, while a further 22 percent use them for three to four hours on average. Believe it or not, less than 5 percent of Americans use their phones less than an hour a day.

(Image attribution: Shakil Shakil)

We’ve become so addicted to our phones that we can’t function without them. Accidents happen because we’re texting while driving. Walk down any street in any city, and everyone’s looking down at their phones. Or they’re walking and talking with their wireless earbuds in or yelling at their watch, which is absurd to watch. Unless you’re a doctor on call, an EMT, or an emergency-room physician, it can wait. Our digital dependence is harmful to our health. It’s an addiction, plain and simple.

In fact, the Addiction Center of America lists “phone addiction” as a drug. According to their website, smartphone addiction may lead to:

  • Sleep deficit
  • Lower concentration
  • Creativity blocks
  • Aggravated ADD
  • Anxiety
  • Reduced cognition
  • Stress
  • Loneliness
  • Insecurity
  • Impaired relationships
  • Poor grades
  • Psychological disorders

Effects such as creativity blocks, reduced cognition, impaired relationships, and psychological disorders aren’t just bad for one’s health. For salespeople especially, these symptoms are very bad for business.

Social Selling Isn’t Social Enough

I’m not the only one who thinks technology dependence is bad for salespeople. Even companies that provide sales enablement technology know that it only works in combination with—not in place of—human connections.

For example, check out the Salesforce blog, and you’ll find articles about relationship selling and customer intimacy. Or check out the CEO of SalesLoft talking about the importance of relationship-building. Hubspot also has a lot to say about relationship selling, and very little of their advice involves technology. Even the top sales enablement platform providers know that without human connections, theirs is sales tech that doesn’t work.

Then there’s so-called social selling, whereby salespeople pester strangers with sales pitches and call it “social.” Wake-up call, unless you’re actually making human connections on social media, you’re not social selling. You’re just cold calling on social media.

Disconnect to Really Connect

Technology should enable us and make us more productive, and most of the time it does. But our total dependence on technology makes us susceptible to invasions of privacy and paralyzes our ability to do quality work. Simply put: Sometimes technology holds us hostage.

(Image attribution: Veerapong Boonporn)

Younger generations love technology. They’ve grown up immersed in text messages and emails, so it’s completely logical that many of them prefer communicating digitally rather than talking in person. I get the appeal. It’s quick and easy, and it’s what they are used to. But it’s also impersonal, disconnected, and very limited in its ability to convey real emotion. This also describes sales tech that doesn’t work.

It’s different for me. Call or text me anytime. You won’t disturb me. My phone is turned off when I’m sleeping. It’s nowhere near me, in the kitchen charging. There’s nothing so urgent in my business that my sleep needs to be disturbed. We still have a landline, just in case our kids or grandkids need to reach us. I hope there’s never an emergency necessitating a middle-of-the-night call.

Bottom line: I need sleep to be a good salesperson and to be a healthy human being—far more than I need the best sales technology. So, I’m not letting it rob me of my slumber … or my relationships. But I might be in the minority.

It’s time we all remembered the value of getting personal—at work and at home. We don’t regret the texts we didn’t send. We regret the time we don’t spend with the people we love. Put down the phone and really be with the people who matter—your spouse, children, boyfriend, girlfriend, family, co-workers, or friends. And on the work front, step away from the computer and connect with your prospects and customers. They’ll love you for it.

For more on how to balance technology and real-life connections, check out my second book, Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal.




(Featured image attribution: cottonbro studios)