"Hey, Paul, what do you have new and exciting for me?"
"I've had trainers come in and do sessions on cold calling, referrals, and networking and just recently had an all day session on using Social Media. I'm really looking for something really new and cutting edge that can really get my people excited. Do you have any training like that?"
"You're not telling me anything new. Isn't there anything new and exciting that's going to ignite sales? We've had all the standard stuff; we need something radical, something really cutting edge."
I don't hear these comments more often that I'd like as there is a segment of the population that is always looking for the newest, most innovative, original prospecting, selling, presentation, and customer service methods, techniques and strategies. And even those who aren't asking for something unusual or different are attracted by the idea of finding something really new, different, ground-breaking.
We live in a world obsessed with the new, original and different. The old is so yesterday; the new is what's going to give us the ANSWERS to the great questions of sales and marketing.
But there's a serious problem with this drive for new, different, and unique. A lot of the new is nothing but crap and a lot of the old are solid, proven methods and techniques that work because they are in line with how humans think and act.
As a graduate student I encountered this same type of thinking. For anyone seeking to become a tenured professor producing new and original material is mandatory. The problem is there isn't that much new and original worth the paper it's written on. But producing worthwhile material isn't the key to academic success-being able to defend the material-no matter how flimsy the defense or how outrageous the material-is the key to staying around long enough to become tenured.
Now, years later, I find the same situation in the training arena. As trainers we have to make a name for ourselves in order to get the training and speaking contracts, in order to sell more books, in order to demand larger and larger fees.
How do we make a name for ourselves? One way is through producing new and original material; new methods, new strategies, new concepts, new ideas, or new principles. And just as with the academic, it really doesn't make any difference if the new ideas, concepts, strategies and methods work as long as we can convince enough people that it is worth paying the price to give it a shot. It's even better if we can get a concept, principle, strategy or process named after us-that just might be the real ticket to the big time.
The problem is so much of this new and original is nothing other than the old put in a shiny new package which is often prettier but less effective than the old package-or, just a likely, pure old fashioned bullshit.
On the other hand, a great deal o f what is considered old and dated is still the best thinking in a great many areas of sales and sales management. Want some quality material? Get yourself a copy of Think and Grow Rich, SPIN Selling, How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling, Solution Selling, or Major Account Sales Strategy. Before reading the newest, hottest sales guru, spend some time reading Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, or Tom Hopkins. Too old fashioned for your taste? Well, they haven't been around training salespeople and managers since God was just a boy because they don't know what they're talking about.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't pursue new avenues, new study, new thinking. I believe we have a tremendous amount to learn about sales and marketing, about how people make decisions, how they purchase, how to connect and relate to them. I think we've really only begun to plumb the world of sales and marketing.
And certainly there's some great (and original) thinking going on today-look at Charlie Green, Dave Brock, Jill Konrath, Jonathan Farrington, Sharon Drew Morgan, and many others. All of these men and women are contributing their original thought and helping us become better sellers, sales leaders and marketers. But even within this illustrious group you'll find the vast majority of their material builds on the best thinking of the past rather than trying to reinvent sales and marketing.
Don't be conned by the claims of new, of ground-breaking, of revolutionary from the latest sales guru. As Ecclesiastes says, there's really nothing new under the sun. Instead of seeking the new, seek the proven; instead of looking for the original, look for the effective; instead of trying to find the easy way, find the way that is ethical and works.
Just because it's the old time religion doesn't mean it won't work in today's marketplace; just as because it is new and different doesn't mean it will work. In fact, if it is new, original and ground-breaking, chances are great it won't work.