Sell like it’s 2014 not 1994.

Throwback Thursday: It’s 1994 and you’re a salesperson at an indistinguishable company. You’ve got your Rolodex of leads and a printed out spreadsheet of numbers to call, or even better, the Yellow Pages. You’re living in an age of pre-Google, pre-LinkedIn, and when the only Internet option was AOL.

Sales in 1994 was all about you: the salesperson. The elevator pitch was about you and the big solution. Cold calling was your go-to approach for the connection, the pitch, and the sale. Maybe your office was something straight out of Glengarry Glen Ross? Yikes.

Thankfully, it’s 2014.

Sales has changed. If you’re having a hard time getting into 2014-sales-mode, here are some pointers:

Personalize Emails

The inbox is a personal fortress. The keeper knows who’s visiting and they only want the important people inside. Unexpected visitors—or emails—are typically not welcome.

Instead, personalize your emails before sending out that cold email:

1. Take the time to research, connect, and engage with your prospect. It’s 2014, if they’re anybody they have a presence somewhere on the Internet.
2. Check out their Twitter to see if you share similar tastes and distastes.
3. LinkedIn’s InMail feature is an invaluable way to make an instantaneous pitch.
4. Keep it short.

If you want prospects to read your emails—take the time to read about them. Don’t be afraid to exhaust all your resources. After all, you’re a stranger invading their fortress.

It’s All About Timing

A good sale is all about great timing. Time is precious—we only have 24 hours in a day, that’s 86,400 seconds a day. Make all those seconds count.

Use these approaches:
1. If you’re sending out a cold pitch—put everything right where they expect it to be. There’s no room for surprises.
2. If a company has just hired a new Executive, reach out.
3. If there’s a recent product launch, reach out.
4. Show prospects how your product can benefit their business. Show them exactly how you can help and outline your specific course of action.

Seconds are literally ticking away, what are you waiting for?

Focus Your Time

Like your prospects, as a salesperson, your time is likewise valuable. You’ve got those same 86,400 seconds in your day. Use those seconds wisely.

Here’s how to focus your time:
1. Your job description as a salesperson holds the same purpose as the business: create and keep customers. Direct your efforts to doing that every single day.
2. Make a “to research” list for prospects, a “to contact” list for those you’ve researched and are ready to reach out, and a “to follow-up” list to maintain relationships.

Above all, be yourself

A salesperson is a human—not a wolf. A salesperson wants to help, solve a problem and improve workflows. If you’re going to create and win opportunities, you must be yourself.

People want to buy from people. In 1994, you might have read from a script. It’s 2014, be a person. Everyone has a personality and a sense of humor. Use your human skills to create a relationship instead of a cold transaction.