Sales Training Advice: How to Take Control of Your Time and Your Life

The Distractions

Years ago a leading university study concluded that sales professionals are productive only 90 minutes during a typical eight hour work day. I think that a bit generous in this new age of ‘sales attention deficit disorder’.

Welcome to the new age of electronic addiction. Today, everywhere you look people are habitually plugged in via smart phones, email, instant messaging, Google alerts and the constant ringing of telephones.

Just last week, while conducting a day long sales training seminar, I noticed reps repeatedly checking their buzzing and vibrating cell phones incessantly. It was as if they had to have a fix that only the staring at the phone screen would satisfy.

These same reps complained during our sales training that one of their top frustrations was a lack of effective time management. When I tried to help them understand the lost productivity that comes with the addition of constantly responding to the whims and wishes of others they wanted no part of it. They vehemently defended and justified their need to have their phones on vibrate so they could check every email the instant it came in. To not do so they concluded might result in a missed selling opportunity. Hogwash I say.

What is the psychological need to feel so accessible? Why do so many feel the need to be in constant contact? What is the practical cost for doing so?

Constantly being accessible satisfies the need to feel wanted, accepted and important. It says “hey, look at me I’m somebody”. Of course, most of those addicted to such behavior would deny this. But let’s face it most alcoholics deny their addiction too. Surprise, surprise. When someone emails or calls us or texts us – even if it an advertisement or solicitation – we feel ‘validated, important and satisfied at a very basic level’ as described Abraham Maslow. Those who don’t get this become targets to be manipulated by those who understand this human emotional need all too well.

The practical cost is enormous. The incessant interruptions that come with the electronic access take us away from the conversations or the task at hand and by doing so divert our attention for a brief moment. Personal productive studies have shown that when we are interrupted it takes several minutes for us to recapture the thought or idea that we had before we were interrupted. If we are interrupted several times an hour by our electronic devices it is easy to understand why we get so little done and wonder where our time goes.

The Solutions

In my sales training, I teach clients if they are to overcome this addiction they must become ruthless about allowing anybody or anything access to them. If you want to gain control of your time and your life and become more productive here are some things you can do: (WARNING: THESE ARE RADICAL IDEAS AND MOST PEOPLE WILL NOT HAVE THE GUTS TO DO THEM)

1. Turn of the cell phone when working on anything that requires your attention. Don’t carry it

with you to meetings.

2. Only check email twice a day – once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Only respond

to emails once a day unless there is an absolute emergency.

3.  Delete anything that is older than two weeks in your email or put it in a folder – which you

will delete later because you will never go back to it.

4.  Turn off the sound on your computer so you will not be distracted.

5.  Do not take unscheduled incoming phone calls. If your phone were a debit card it would be

sucking your account dry. Let calls go to voice mail where you explain that you will return

calls each day at a preset time.

6.  Get a hands free device for your car and use that time to make calls if necessary.

7.  Pay full attention when you are in front of someone face to face. If necessary leave your

phone in your car.

8.  Schedule a 30 minute session to do all of your internet surfing or newsletter reading and don’t

violate that schedule.

9.  Do not allow employees or co-workers to interrupt you.  Let it be known that you do not take

kindly to being interrupted.

Remember that everyone is busy. You are not special in that regard. If you think that appearing extremely busy is some kind of badge of honor or it gives you prestige or is a status symbol – get over it. If you will adopt these practices you will experience greater peace of mind, become more productive and will actually have more time to do things you enjoy.

3 replies
  1. Duane Christensen
    Duane Christensen says:

    It made me laugh when I read this “…had to have a fix that only the staring at the phone screen would satisfy.” I find myself doing that with my email. I’ll just click over to my email for no reason…ten times a day sometimes. Like a magical sales order request will be there each time. It helps to read posts like this. Thank you.

    Reply

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