January 6, 2017

First, Turn Your Phone Off

buddySellers, turn your mobile phones off

And put them away, out of sight, while you’re making sales calls.

It’s so obvious that one would think you shouldn’t have to remind people. And, yet…

Weapons of Mass Distraction
Recently, I conducted a workshop for a client and their roughly 80 inside sales reps. A majority of one particular teaching session focused on the basic habits and behaviors that accelerate the process of establishing rapport and building trust with buyers. We worked on techniques that taught them on how to be present in a conversation with a buyer, how to to focus on the customer through questions and listening carefully to their answers.

Not surprisingly, throughout the day, there were sales reps in the room that occasionally were sneaking peeks at their phones (or, as I like to call them, WMDs – weapons of mass distraction.) Perhaps just a quick look at an email. Or text. Or social share.

I see this distracted behavior everywhere. Sales calls. Sales meetings. Phone calls. Video calls.

I decided to do a little ad hoc research. I paused my presentation and I asked the 80 sales reps to raise their hands if they kept their mobile phones out on their desks while they were making outbound customer phone calls. 100% of those in the room raised their hands. An unfortunate consensus.

Then my follow-up question. How many of you will look at your phone if it buzzes, or otherwise notifies you of activity, while you’re on a call with a buyer? 80% raised their hands. And, going by the sheepish looks I was seeing from those who hadn’t raised their hands, it was clear that the actual number was closer to 100%.

No big deal, right? Just a little harmless multi-tasking.

You think you can. But, you can’t.
Except the research has been done and the science is inarguably conclusive about your ability to multi-task. Or to maintain peak concentration as you rapidly switch your attention between tasks. You can’t.

As human beings we are incapable of multi-tasking. We’re lucky if we can do one thing at a time well. Two or more things at the same time? Forget about it.

According to a series of tests conducted by scientists from Carnegie-Mellon University, the distraction of an email interruption made participants in their research study 20% dumber.

Studies have shown that diverting your attention from one task to look at your phone for as little as 5 secs can cost you at least a minute of your attention. Meaning it can take you an entire minute (or more) to fully re-engage your focus on the task you were working on before you interrupted yourself to look at your phone.

Uh, I didn’t catch that. Do you mind repeating…
So, imagine that you’re on a call with a new prospect and you’re trying to establish a rapport and build trust with her, and your phone buzzes. You have a choice. Do you glance at your phone, take your attention away from the buyer and risk losing track of the conversation with the buyer? Or do you just ignore your phone because only bad things can happen if your don’t.

Buyers are people. They can immediately sense when you are distracted. (Just as my wife immediately knows when I glance at my email while talking on the phone with her.)

One of your primary responsibilities as a salesperson is to earn additional time from your prospects in order to continue to sell to them. You do this by providing value to them in return for the time they’ve given you. You can’t do this when you’re distracted.

The late Clifford Nass, a Stanford sociologist and leading authority on multitasking, was quoted as saying that those who habitually attempt to multi-task are “suckers for irrelevancy.”

20% dumber and irrelevant to your prospects? Is that really where you want to be?

Sales is hard enough as it is. Make it easier on yourself. Just turn off your mobile phone and put it away before you talk with your customers.

For more strategies to help you succeed, in sales or whatever you do, listen to Accelerate!, my top-rated podcast. 6 days per week I publish conversations with world-class experts that will help you acquire and retain new customers. Click here to catch up with any of the 340+ episodes I’ve released so far.