I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to the anniversary of an important day for all of us who work in the inside sales space. On this day 137 years ago the US Patent Office granted a patent to cover “the method of, and apparatus for, transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically ….” Although he certainly didn’t know it then, Alexander Graham Bell was on his way to creating perhaps the greatest sales enablement tool of all time: the telephone.
Described as a toy at the time by the president of the Western Union company, no one today would dispute its importance for individuals and businesses. I am not sure when the first household received a call about the benefits of the latest spinning wheel or the great deals available on real-estate in Wyoming, but the phone has become an integral part of B2C and B2B sales. With the advent of Do Not Call (DNC) regulations many people started predicting the death of the sales call – and particularly cold calling – and the talk was all about social media and social selling. The new technology was going to replace the old, and the sales call would soon be extinct.
This simply isn’t a case of the typewriter and the computer, or the telegraph and the phone, however. Social media and other new technologies will have a profound impact on how we use the telephone in sales, but they will not replace it. I believe that they will, in fact, become important enablers for our use of the telephone by allowing companies to better target their calling and give their inside sales teams more information to make a quality call. Much as with DNC regulations this may decrease the number of leads to be called but it will increase the quality of the leads and thus increase the value of the sales call.
Traditional cold calling may indeed be on the decrease but the importance of the phone is not. Inside sales and telesales managers will simply need to adapt to this changing environment and recognize the increased value and importance of each call. As I have written about before I believe this will be done through a greater adoption of lead management software and sales CRM software solutions that are designed specifically for higher-quality sales calls with features such as next-best-lead routing, progressive dialing and logical-branch scripting. I don’t think it will mean putting down the phone, but rather enabling the sales people with new technology to make better calls while maintaining productivity. Alexander Graham Bell’s invention remains as relevant today as it has ever been.