Bob Flexon, CEO of Dynegy, is on a mission to change the culture at his company. He arrived at Dynegy four months before they filed for bankruptcy. Under his leadership, Mr. Flexon started putting changes in place to change the culture. His belief: change the culture and you will change revenues and achieve long term success.
Of the many changes he made, one really caught my attention, his focus on being present and in the moment. Dynegy employees are banned from checking email and phones during meetings. What a concept. People actually paying attention to each other and what is being said during a meeting. He installed ‘culture champions’ that reinforce the message. When they see a colleague checking their phone, they call out the behavior and announce, “Jennifer, be here now.”
This message is one that sales professional should consider embracing. In my work with hundreds of salespeople, a growing problem is their inability to focus and be present.
Focus is the new competitive weapon for the future. A salesperson must focus in order to read and absorb new material that adds value to a sales conversation. Prospects expect you to know the business of business. Product knowledge is not a competitive advantage. Thought leadership and compelling conversations are.
Focus is essential during a sales meeting because of the necessity to observe the verbal and non-verbal messages being said. A change in tonality or a shift in a prospects expression give salespeople clues as to where to take the conversation or ask the right question.
Focus is a selling skill and unfortunately too many salespeople are training themselves to be a slave to the immediate: email and text messages. Many have been reduced to being one of Pavlov’s dogs. Stimuli shows up and the salesperson reacts by checking the message and checking out of the immediate conversation.
Mr. Flexon understands the power of habit and repetition. He has mounted a plaque underneath his computer monitor that states, “Be Here Now.” A good idea for all of us striving to be better salespeople and people of influence.