From Wikipedia, Analog Signal:

“An analog or analogue signal is any continuous signal for which the time varying feature (variable) of the signal is a representation of some other time varying quantity, i.e., analogous to another time varying signal. For example, in an analog audio signal, the instantaneous voltage of the signal varies continuously with the pressure of the sound waves. It differs from a digital signal, in which the continuous quantity is a representation of a sequence of discrete values which can only take on one of a finite number of values.[1][2] The term analog signal usually refers to electrical signals; however, mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, human speech, and other systems may also convey or be considered analog signals.”

April 2, 2016 – Michael Hotchkiss

If you have been paying attention lately, vinyl records are making a big comeback. Why? Audiophiles believe the sound is more pristine than the latest digital recordings. Why? Think of it this way, you can tie a string from one post to another. The result is a straight line when viewed at any level of magnification. You can also take a million tiny balls of material of the same size and lay them end to end between the same two points. At any normal focal range, this also appears to be a straight line. As you draw nearer and now look through a magnifying glass you see a series of tiny balls touching each. We have gotten so good at making these pieces smaller and smaller such that one has to look through high powered microscope to tell you are not looking at a continuous line while the string still passes the continuous line test. Same with records vs digital recording.

This little preamble is to show why digital thinking always has been and always will be a lousy way to sell. If it were not, then taking the universal sales technique that was unsuccessful at first and reapplying it in anticipation of a better outcome is, well, to use the old adage, the definition of insanity. Why does this seem contrary on the surface? That is because a digital solution to an infinitely variable situation can only work once (with apologies to the geeks working on Artificial Intelligence and Deep Thinking technologies). It’s like the old one trick pony strategy such as: I quote a job, make small talk for a couple of weeks and when it’s close to decision, I come at them with a 10% discount. BAM! Works every time – thought no one whoever managed a productive sales organization. People are analog creatures. They do not all react the same to the same situation and even more importantly, the same person may not act the same to the same situation. Got it?

Every new sales opportunity, whether with an existing or well known customer or someone brand new, the most important thing you can do is to find out where and how to tie the string between you and the desired result. This includes learning as much as possible about the Core C’s: Customer, Competency and Competitor. You can find variations of this same tune in a variety of sales training syllabi, but these tend to focus on macro pieces of information. The really good sales people, dig deeper. Like, beyond Google deeper. Personal information, tidbits about the community they live in or the company is actively involved with. What’s their favorite sports team? Do they have kids? If so, how old and what do they do. Now, learn what it is they are trying to do, not what you have to offer. If they need a hole (I know, another proverbial sales training banality), how many, how deep and how big? Communicate that you understand they want and work your way around as to how you have a solution. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking these questions in an icebreaking mode. The point is there is never too much good information to have even if you don’t use it. One caution about competitive knowledge. Never use it unless directly asked. There are better ways to demonstrate your knowledge of the players in the industry (and perhaps where certain areas fall short) than bashing a competitor. It’s just not cool. You know that you know and any perceptive person will figure that out too. It’s part of trust building.

Consider this. If you are asked the exact same question from different customers at different times, would you give the same answer twice? Digitalists would and that is the problem with such a mindset. Leave canned replies, boiler plate descriptions and legalese precedents to others (probably making more money than you – but I digress). Think before you respond. This should ideally be inherent to your own personality or it will come across as contrived. Be real. It’s way better than faking it.

So, keep on setting up your Pipelines, CRM systems and even Constant Contact digital tools, but empower your inner analog when directly interacting with customers. It worked for Pink Floyd.