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I ran across a really funny Louis CK video this morning (sorry, it’s not work-appropriate, but you can look it up), of the stand-up comic performing at a Boston club in 1987, when he was 20.

I was ten back then, growing up in Silicon Valley, and my memories of the sales and business world, at the time, were of my dad going on business trips every week or two, to pitch consulting, when he worked at SRI International. This is in the early days of corporate email (SRI was an edgy place to work; I know many businesses didn’t make email mainstream until nearly ten years later, in 1997). My dad’s personal computer, then, was a then-hip Macintosh, with a network connection. 

At the Sales 2.0 Conference, I’ve run into a lot of CEOs and senior-level executives who were clearly in the workplace, 23 years ago. Most of these executives were in the mid-twenties and early thirties back then – many were feet-on-the-street corporate account managers, or working in inside sales. It’s kind of amazing for me to think of the enormous transformation that’s taken place in a relatively short period of time. You have businesses, that, as late as 1997, existed without email, and in 2007,

The thing is, I don’t really understand what was so good, about the good old days – the late ’80s. Aside from all the new info-clutter, and crappy economy, selling seems a lot easier these days, in the age of the social sale. I mean, sure ’87 was a great year in music (Husker Du’s Warehouse, The Replacements’ Pleased To Meet MeThe Joshua Tree, Metallica’s Garage Days EP), but in terms of selling and customer-centric innovations, I really can’t think of anything.

I was talking with the guys from Connect And Sell last night over cocktails, and they were telling me how their technology helps sales professionals typically get 4-6 live prospect connections in an hour. Statistically, that’s more good conversations  than a sales professional would have in two days, in 1987.

I guess, maybe the one thing that makes sales professionals a little wistful about the late ’80s is that their competitors knew just as little as they did, and it seemed like a much simpler time. But I’d trade the competitive edge, and the sureness with which I can approach customer satisfaction that I have now, for that time, any day.

This post was cross-posted to the Sales 2.0 Conference Blog.