This blog article is about DISTRACTION. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I learned at a very young selling age that I was no darn good if I wasn’t focused. I’m a one-trick pony. I can do ONE thing well when I’m focused on it. In today’s world there are more distractions and more unsolicited interferences than ever before. In this except we will explore the first, and most avoidable of those…DIGITAL distractions.
“One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us.”
– Daniel Goleman, Psychologist, Author, Emotional Intelligence
Why do otherwise smart and aggressive sales people find it so easy to be distracted from the few priorities that really matter? You can soak in and apply everything that is written and still FAIL to meet your ultimate financial goals if you allow the distractions around you to encroach into your prime selling time.
Let’s discuss the two most common forms of distractions that you need to be aware of and manage if you’re going to survive and thrive. Both forms of interference are generally unsolicited and can best be described as Digital Distractions and Human Distractions.
I have a good friend and longtime colleague named Dawn. Over the years, she and I have discussed the various forms of unsolicited disruptions that are tossed at salespeople and sales managers. I’m not sure which one of us coined the phrase “White Noise” to describe and apply to the disorder, but I’m certainly going to claim that I did!
Although White Noise is technical terminology that describes an arbitrary audio signal or wave, we are using it here in a non-technical or metaphoric sense to describe random talk without meaningful contents. In other words…unsolicited, and often haphazard interference injected into an otherwise well planned workday.
Let’s discuss the digital sort of interference first.
#1: Unsolicited Digital Distractions
These can find you on many platforms and can be thrust on you by total strangers (or your closest confidants). I am going to describe a few friends I’ve observed. They happen to be very smart, driven and are moderately successful, but constantly distracted. At any given time, (even if I’m trying to have a face to face conversation with them), they’ll have Facebook and Twitter open, they will be checking emails, responding to texts, or have multiple IM conversations going. What’s worse, I have witnessed them doing all of this while working—trying to prospect and/or follow up with clients. Hence, the first batch of distractions that we must manage or avoid can best be described as digital white noise, the kind that finds us 24/7.
It is too easy to become bombarded with communication in this information age. In today’s transparent world we have a GPS device duct taped to our right hand. Everyone knows how to reach us instantly. Information, (important or not) messages, (critical or not) memos, (time sensitive, or not) seems to fly at us at warp speed. Worse…those on the other end sometimes expect an immediate response. Of course, if you are in commission-only sales or sales management, your job is to be face-to-face selling a prospect or training someone to do likewise, not sifting through, (or drowning in) a sea of digital minutia!
…You can’t possibly focus on prospecting or selling if you allow yourself to be constantly DISTRACTED.
And that’s what the bulk of all information being hurled at you is…A GIANT DISTRACTION! Virtually everything being delivered to your desktop or mobile screen is equivalent to electronic banana peels, trying to trip you up. I guarantee that less than 10% of the communications sent to you, (more like 5%) are critical to your financial survival (especially if you are new in sales).
We are going to supply you with ONE RULE and ONE FORMULA to solve this challenge proactively.
Only check your incoming electronic messages 4 TIMES per day and limit yourself to 15-20 minute sessions of retrieval and response.
7:30 AM – (Just before your first sales calls)
11:45 AM – (Before lunch or during lunch)
4:00 PM – (near the end of your workday, but before closing time)
6:00 PM – (After your workday is over, but not during family time)
The rest of the time, TURN YOUR MOBILE DEVICE OFF! The logic here is that if you schedule/calendar very specific times, (15 – 20 minutes) to stop, check and clear your messages 4 times each day, you are spending a concentrated hour of focused time, (or, at most an hour and twenty minutes) versus squandering two or three hours of your day and being CONSTANTLY DISTRACTED during your prime selling time.
In fact, if you add up the squandered time, (2 hours per day x 5 day work week) it equals 40 hours over a month, an ENTIRE WEEK. You are losing one week per month of prime selling time simply so that you can read unsolicited spam on your pinging mobile device or comment on a Facebook post you were just tagged in.
Please allow me to digress for a moment and bust the myth of a thing we call multitasking (because this is what we are actually describing). In one of the letters he wrote to his son in the 1740s, Lord Chesterfield offered the following advice:
“There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.”
In Lord Chesterfield’s way of thinking, FOCUS was not merely a useful way to structure one’s time; it was a sign of intelligence.
“This steady and un-dissipated attention to one object is a sure mark of a superior genius; as hurry, bustle, and agitation, are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind.”
It is also proven that heavy multitaskers engage in even heavier multitasking because their habits lead to a reduced ability to filter out interference. Although it is not scientifically proven, some researchers believe that the part of our brain that processes deeper cognitive thought actually atrophies in this whole practice of multitasking.
In plain English, when we multitask we may actually be DUMBING ourselves down
If that isn’t enough to make you think about this social and cultural habit, in 2005, the BBC reported on a research study, funded by Hewlett-Packard and conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London. The study found that:
“Workers distracted by e-mail, digital media and unsolicited phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers.”
So, the next time you see someone that appears to be stoned, incoherent, not completely present, they may not be high on weed; they just might have wasted their morning with a marathon session on Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Tumblr, LinkedIn, their Gmail account or YouTube. I’m certainly not suggesting that social media created the age-old problem of DISTRACTIONS, but it clearly expanded it.
I also fight hard to stay focused when I am trying to complete a specific project or work session. In fact, there were times during the writing and editing of this very book that I had to hide my phone to avoid the temptation to check and respond to calls, texts and IMs.
We’re in a different place and time than when I began selling in 1979. It was easier to be in the field for hours, staying totally focused with zero outside distractions. There were no cell phones or wired mobile devices. I was an island unto myself while out in the field prospecting or selling.
When I was done with one door, I’d turn right and walk into another. There were no digital distractions waiting for me in my right hand
We are far too accessible today. For heaven’s sake, unless you are a brain surgeon and saving lives, (which I doubt you are if you are involved in commission sales) then PLEASE, stop checking emails, texts and Facebook during prime selling or prospecting time.
Okay…now that you have some rules in place to help you manage the time you check and view the digital white noise, here is the formula that will allow you to process and dispose of the messages effectively:
The R.A.F.T. FORMULA:
The objective with the use of the acronym above is to train your brain to place each piece of digital, (or hard copy) communication in one of 4 CATEGORIES as soon as you open or read them. (R.A.F.T.) As there are only 4 categories to remember, this should be an easy method to master quickly.
The communication needs to be looked at, handled, reviewed or approved by someone else. Immediately forward the piece to that person (get it OFF your desktop or desk).
This type of communication requires some attention by you. You should note the action and schedule non-prime selling time to take the action required.
The communication must be saved/filed with no action or routing needed. Create a desktop file folder for the kind of correspondence. (Start with broad categories and narrow down later) Get it out of your inbox, or off your desk.
Delete or trash each piece of communication that you do not need. If the information can be found through a quick Google search, then TRASH it. If it is junk or spam try to *unsubscribe to it.
*Note: if you get an email from www.capequation.com or Joe Buzzello, this is not junk or spam. Do not unsubscribe or delete these messages! (LOL!) But…don’t stop and read them during prime selling time either.
The bottom line and takeaway here is obvious. We all waste an ENORMOUS amount of time checking unimportant emails, texts or social media sites. We walk around or sit at our desks like zombies, staring at the screen of our mobile device as if we are going to miss something. I get it…we all like to be connected…we are all ADDICTED to our mobile devices to some degree. All I am suggesting is that you place some rules on your media input so that you can function with focus and efficiency during your prime selling hours.
Your job is to prospect and sell, and that requires focus!
…I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from the soon to be published book, The CAP Equation-
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