I have a buddy who’s the best pure salesman I’ve ever met. “Pure salesman” meaning he’s been picking up the phone and getting people to say “yes” for decades. Strangers. Sales, baby! Sales! Sales! Sales!

I’ve known this guy for about ten years. I’ve seen him sell, and when he’s able to get someone on the phone who’s looking for whatever he’s selling he’s the guy I want doing the selling; he’s that good.

And now he’s struggling, and I mean in a big way. Because people don’t answer the phone any more.

I’ve been a cold-calling salesperson. I was pretty good—not great, but pretty good—at it. Getting past gatekeepers isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do, and I suspect it ranks right up there with “speaking in public” for things that many people fear the most. But getting past gatekeepers is easy compared to getting a voice mail returned. Sales via outreach has become pretty near impossible.

We send out a monthly digest of what I write here, to a list of folks who have opted in. Even then, the “success” of the outreach has to be viewed as questionable; only about 15% of the people who receive the monthly email bother to open it—and that’s a good rate. Studies suggest that ten percent is a number many companies only dream of!

So in a world where you can’t reach people on the phone and your e-mails go unopened far more than not, what is sales?

Sales has become about getting people to come to you. This isn’t an easy task. We’re pretty darned good at it, and our SEO clients get results. Our clients “come to us”, as well. But doing Search Engine Optimization is a long-term task that a guy who’s spent his whole life making phone calls isn’t likely to understand quickly, nor obtain good enough results doing quickly enough to “make his nut”.

But my friend needs to change, and change soon. He’s completely lost track of what he does, because he’s caught up in how he does it and is resisting the business change necessary to fix his problem. Here’s a small part of an exchange between us, from yesterday:

Me: I don’t give a rat’s ass about how stupid the people you’re working with are. I care how you’re reacting to it. You sound like an old dog who isn’t interested in learning new tricks. Time to roll over, Fido.

My Friend: lol lmfao….that was a good one….do u understand that we sell cell phones? everyone i call has no interest….i think what’s happening is im just tired of life….

I certainly understand what my buddy sells. But he doesn’t understand and isn’t listening to me when I tell him that nobody’s buying that way.

You need to be some sort of Wizard to sell today. Or make sales based on things people haven’t thought of. I suspect my friend’s prospects don’t need to hear about his great prices or inflated claims about coverage areas that the telecommunication giant he works for have him spew out.

But when even Google admits that Content Farms are where sales come from, you’d better be a content farm.

Or if that doesn’t work for you, at least start working toward SOME sort of business change.

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