For the last decade, there has been a trend towards believing that what worked in the past is automatically wrong for the future—and, more still, ineffective right now. The purveyors of this thinking believe that there is no progress without the type of disruption that comes with tearing down what came before it. As I have written here before, evolution transcends and include what came before, not eliminating it altogether.
A few examples are helpful. If you read a book on a Kindle or a tablet, that form is different from a bound book. But the core of a book is that it is a method for sharing the written word. That has not changed.
Streaming audio provides much more control over what you can listen to and when. It’s much better than radio (terrestrial of a satellite), and it’s a fair bit better than cassette mix tapes. What radio was—and is—the ability to share words and music across great distances.
Television and movies are also now streaming to any device with a screen, and the production of content has been liberated from the hands of a few to the masses. This is a massive shift in power, but not that does not change the medium much. You still watch programs that educate and entertain you.
Not everything that is new is good or healthy. For proof, look at the food most people eat. Much of it is efficient in delivery while lacking when it comes to delivering nutrition.
Many of those who write about sales mistakenly misunderstand how things evolve. They believe that a new medium, namely the Internet, destroys everything that has come before, even if a Digital newspaper is no different than a paper newspaper; the form has changed but the function has not.
They argue that cold calling is no longer a valid method for prospecting because there are new ways to communicate. They suggest that permission marketing is the right choice and then send unsolicited emails and InMails. They criticize interruptions while working hard to cause you to stop scrolling with your thumb.
They suggest that closing is dead, without understanding that one must still gain commitments, oblivious to that fact that most salespeople wouldn’t know how to pressure someone to buy or execute a hard sell. This, when all the evidence points to companies struggle to make decisions and needing more help and more prescriptive direction.
When it comes to pitching, that too is old and must be replaced with something new, which is often framed as sharing information and being helpful. The idea that one should never pitch is always written as if it were a law handed down on Mt. Sinai. It’s black and white, with all context removed. Even when there is a time to pitch, and even when some prospects want to be pitched.
In a time of constant, accelerating, disruptive change, you are right not to become too attached to the things that are likely to change. You may want to be more agnostic and more willing to take in new ideas and new technologies and tools. At the same time, however, you would do well to ground yourself in the things that are timeless. There have been disruptions before, and they were in many ways more jarring. What helped people succeed then is what will help you succeed now.
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