In less than a decade, mobile devices have morphed from handy tools that allow people to make phone calls on the go into users' primary connection to friends, family, businesses, and entertainment.

The rapidly changing role that mobile devices play in our lives is evident from a mobile device user's utter panic if his phone is misplaced or stolen. The loss creates the same physiological and psychological symptoms once reserved for a traumatic event like a home burglary—a sense of disorientation and alienation from what one holds dear as well as profound separation anxiety.

Those feelings arise because the mobile phone today is much more than a mere handset; it's a portal to the digital world we increasingly inhabit.

That increased dependence means marketers and sales professionals must alter the way they approach customers when reaching out to them on mobile devices.

As marketers and sales professionals come to understand how personal mobile devices have become, they should think about what worked for the door-to-door salesmen of our grandparents' generation.

Back then, successful door-to-door salesmen knew that to make a sale they had to engender trust so that they could gain access to a prospective customer's home. Those sales professionals used their common sense and knew to...

• Present a neat appearance. Successful salesmen were groomed and dressed appropriately for the neighborhoods in which they worked.

• Use a confident approach. Salesmen were deliberate and confident when they knocked at the door—finding a balance between being too aggressive or too meek.

• Make a positive first impression. Salesmen knew the homeowner would peek at them through a curtain or keyhole, so they prepared a positive, non-threatening look.

• Greet customers in their own language. Salesmen studied their target customers and greeted them in a manner and language that was familiar to the listener.

• Anticipate objections and create trust. Salesmen created pitches to allay concerns and built trust by addressing pain points and managing expectations.

• Involve customers in the solution and tell the truth. Salesmen who achieved long-term success convinced customers that they needed the product by providing a true account of its benefits.

• Follow up and ensure satisfaction. Good salesmen knew happy customers were their most effective marketing channel and that the customer was always the final arbiter of success.

* * *

Rather than approaching the doors of residences, mobile marketers are using apps and mobile sites to deliver their pitches directly to the portal of users' digital homes. However, with just a few adjustments in the wording, the same guidelines of past door-to-door salesmen apply to today's mobile marketers.

Successful sales professionals will embrace modern tools, but that doesn't mean they should leave tried-and-true sales tactics and customer focus behind; they simply apply those ideas onto new platforms.

Word-of-mouth sales might originate from a retweet instead of a back-fence chat with a neighbor—but the revenue generated is just as valuable.

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What Door-to-Door Salesmen Can Teach Mobile Marketers

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image of James Ramsey

James Ramsey is the CEO of FiddleFly, a software firm and a digital creative agency, based in Columbia, Maryland.

LinkedIn: James Ramsey