Every house has a junk drawer. I was going through mine the other day and it was filled with stuff that seemed like it was worth keeping at the time, but on reflection, you can’t really understand what you were thinking. I found a half of a needle-nose pliers…? Why would I save that?

There are some things that you may be keeping that no longer have real value. They were good ideas at the time, but that time has passed and it is time to move on. I warn you in advance, some of these you are going to want to hold onto, but I think you should really consider tossing them:

1. Hand written notes–The handwritten note is an iconic, almost mythical, fixture in the lore of sales people. This is a tradition that you can discard. It is no longer the preferred method of communication nor does it carry the same personal connection that it did in past days. In a digital world it is slow and for a digital crowd, say younger than 45, it is clunky.

2. Birthday wishes–We should keep these, right? No. If your buyer has a LinkedIn account or is on Facebook, they receive dozens if not hundreds of connections wishing them some version of Happy Birthday. Digital cards from Hallmark or other online sources fill their email. It’s numbing and you are just one more in the pile.

3. Prospects on your list longer than 18 months–Your pipeline is more than dusty if the prospect bin has a contact with whom you have not done business for over 18 months. Even in the world of long sales cycles, the issue is not their cycle, but their relevance. Sure, keep the data, even though it more than likely has changed significantly or will in the very near future. Just get rid of it from your prospect bin and put it in your contacts bin. The difference is that one you are working, the other you are waiting.

4. Working the Trade Show Floor–Ok, I may have crossed a line here, but the trade show floor is not a lead generation location any more. Real business is done outside of the trade show floor, in private meeting locations, meals, and panel discussions. If you are working the trade show floor you are wasting your time. Everyone has the miracle story, including me, of the big opportunity that they met on a trade show floor. The reason you are throwing it out is because the yield has diminished so much from these activities that the best thing to do is focus on getting appointments before the meeting and never visiting the floor.

5. Voicemail–There is an age limit on this–think of it like the height indicator for rides at an amusement park. Voicemail is still preferred for the over 45-year-old demographic. Younger than that, you will find that texts and emails are much more likely to receive response.

Like most things in your junk drawer, you were holding onto it out of habit, or you just had not looked in your drawer in awhile. Check your own junk drawer for these five and see if you should throw them out.

Last updated: Dec 17, 2013


Author, speaker and consultant TOM SEARCY is the foremost expert in large account sales. With Hunt Big Sales, he’s helped clients land more than $5 billion in new sales. Click to get Tom’s weekly tips, or to learn more about Hunt Big Sales.

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