The research results are in: Multitasking doesn't work and isn't going to until the human brain can be re-engineered and/or cloned.
The brain is a powerful computer, with its hundred billion neurons and trillions of synaptic connections. However, it has limitations.
In a recent study, a group of Microsoft workers took an average of 15 minutes to return to serious mental tasks, such as writing reports or computer code, after responding to incoming e-mail or instant messages. They strayed off to reply to other messages or browse news, sports or entertainment Web sites.
The same thing happens to many sales organizations. Companies worry about competition, but instead, should worry about the misuse and abuse of technology. Salespeople spend entire days in "check mode": checking voicemail, e-mail and PDAs. They're so busy checking in, they never get to doing prospecting and business development.
So what's a company to do? Here are a few principles to endorse and enforce at your company.
- Love the one you're with -- Bad manners don't win business. Cell phone/PDA addiction is creating a generation of people who just don't get it. Most of us grew up with Mom and Dad telling us not to speak with our mouth full. Now, Mom and Dad need to tell their adult children not to speak with their mouth full of a cell phone.
The next time your salesperson takes an electronic gadget, turned on, to a lunch meeting, ask them why: Are they going to call their guest, who's sitting across from them at the table? Are they going to take a call while they're talking with their customer?
Who is more important? The client and prospect, or an incoming phone call?
A colleague recently shared her story of a first meeting with a financial planner. The purpose of the meeting was to determine if he was the right professional to design her financial future. She quickly decided he wasn't when the planner took a phone call during their meeting, sending a clear message she was No. 2 on his priority list. She figured treatment of her portfolio would look the same way.
Smart salespeople know that giving undivided attention to prospects and clients is one of the best ways let them know they're important and valued.
- Be present and in the moment -- Companies invest in training and hold meetings, only to have knowledge go down the drain because no one attending the training or meeting is "in the moment."
Participants live in the past or the future, worrying about what they've missed or are going to miss. PDAs line up on conference tables, with participants staring intently, making sure they don't miss a single message.
They don't miss any messages. However, they miss plenty of content, learning, sharing of best practices and eventually, results.
- Play the quiet game -- You have to wonder if salespeople think other business people will think they're more successful because they have a permanent attachment to their ear. (It's scary how many people are walking around talking to themselves these days.)
We know you have a job and are important. Congratulations. The general public really doesn't care to hear your conversation in the elevator, restroom, restaurant or car.
When's the last time you encouraged your sales team to take some time to just think? Yes, think and not do. Turn off the radio, CD, cell phone and free up your mind.
A relaxed mind produces some of the best ideas and solutions. Sigmund Freud said, "Great decision in the realm of thought and momentous discoveries and solutions of problems are only possible to an individual working in solitude."
So what else were you working on while reading this article?
About the Author
Colleen Stanley is founder and president of SalesLeadership Inc., a sales development firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, consultative sales training, emotional intelligence training. and leadership training for sales managers. She is the author of Growing Great Sales Teams and Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success. Reach Colleen at 303-708-1128 or visit www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com.
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