I sat there and typed the last introduction business letter of the day, addressed the envelope and along with the other letters I had typed earlier put on the stamps and dropped the stack of letters in the mail box.  Over the next ten days I did pretty much the same thing until I started to receive letters or phone calls from the people I had targeted.  If things worked out well I was getting phone replies within three or four days and mail replies within a week.  Turn time is everything and the focus has always been on identifying the potential customer, contacting him or her and then working on establishing a relationship which might lead to developing new business as quickly as possible to the benefit of both of us.

You can just imagine how excited I was when I first heard about email and how I could make that cold call phone call, follow it up with an email and turn on accounts up to a week faster.  Amazing.  “Hello, Mr. Jones, I’m calling to introduce my company …..  That’s great, I’ll send you an email to confirm” and it was so quick.

How things have changed.  Ring, ring, ring, “Hello and thank you for calling XYZ Company, the leader in whatever it is we do.  Please take a moment and listen to this message as our options have changed. Press one, press two, press three, spell the person’s name, press the pound sign and then, “I’m unable to come to the phone right now.  Your call is very important to me, please leave a message and I’ll return your call promptly”.  No, it isn’t. No, he won’t and behind a wall sits a potential customer you can’t get to and behind a wall sits a potential customer who should be looking for problem solutions but who has cut him or herself off from those who can deliver the solutions.

So what can you do? Let me suggest going back to sending real letters on real letterhead in real envelopes with stamps.  You see, the same people who won’t answer the phone and who won’t return calls and who will delete your email without opening it will open the envelope with your letter.  Isn’t that something? Maybe it’s the excitement of receiving something addressed to them just like Christmas morning.  So I guess it’s time to use today’s newest and latest computers as word processors like they had twenty years ago.  If that’s what you have to do then that’s what you have to do, but wait, before you stack the letterhead in the printer.  Now with all of the news about hacking and government spying comes an article in USA Today about the Russian Federal Guard Service going back to typewriters and paper documents.  The Russians are buying typewriters, new typewriters.

So let’s review.  Scrap the phone calls because nobody answers the phone but if you do decide to call don’t leave a message because nobody returns calls and don’t bother sending emails because they’re not opened and send letters via the mail but don’t use your computer as a word processer because of hacking or spying concerns.  Do get out that old, perfectly good Remington, Smith-Corona, Underwood or Royal that you just couldn’t toss and then head to Staples or Office Depot and tell the kid in electronics that you want a new ribbon, some whiteout and a typewriter eraser (with a brush—eraser crumbs, you know).  That should keep him busy for a while and then ask him about file folders, postal scales, file cabinets and carbon paper.  You’ll soon be as ready as anyone to do business as we work our way through the twenty first century.

Isn’t progress great?


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