Working Smarter

#MoreSalesLessTime Challenge #1: Avoid the Hijacks

Welcome to the first More Sales Less Time Challenge. We’re focusing today on the biggest challenge we’re facing right now. In fact, this singular topic is costing you a minimum of one to two hours of lost time every single day. If we realized that, we’d probably do something different—or would we???

Let me give you a little background.

As sellers, we spend lots of time online. We have to in order to do our jobs well. Recently, the Center for Creative Leadership found that smart-phone carrying professionals (like salespeople) spend a whopping 13.5 hours per day interacting with work.

When we’re online, our amygdala (a very primitive part of our brain) jumps to the forefront saying, “I’ll handle things.” And, it actually takes over from the smart, savvy, strategic part of our brain we need to our job well.

Now here’s the kicker.

The amygdala’s role is to protect us from stalking predators or any changes that could signify danger. Anything new that pops into its view is worthy of our undivided attention. When that happens, our brain rewards the amygdala with a shot of dopamine—which is a highly addictive “feel good” hormone. Got that?

So let’s take a typical day. You’re a good salesperson, trying to do your job. Suddenly you hear a ping, as a new email arrives in your inbox. You think, It could be a customer or prospect. I better check right away.

But when you look, it's not. Instead, it’s a newsletter, from one of your favorite resources with a link to an article called “12 Cringe-Inducing Mistakes Salespeople Make on Prospecting Calls.” That’s too tempting to pass up, especially since you have lots of calls to make. So you click on it and quickly scan the article. While there, you see a link to another article, “How to Win a Sale in 7 Seconds.” That, you’ve got to read too … and so you click on it.

As you’re checking it, a breaking-news alert pops up. Of course you need to take a look at it—and, the next thing you know you’re watching a funny cat video on Facebook.

How did that happen? That wasn’t part of the plan. You just wanted to check one email.

You’ve just experienced an amygdala hijack.

The amygdala noticed something new, and down the rabbit hole you went. Despite all your good intentions. And you have dopamine surging through your blood stream—feeling pretty good about it.

Till you suddenly realized what’s happening. Believe me. This is human nature. But it’s making you crazy-busy.

Here’s how it’s affecting you.

First off, you’ve wasted valuable time chasing irrelevant information. That’s a loss.

But even worse, now you have to get back to what you were working on previously. Except that research shows it can easily take you 10-20 times the length of the interruption to get your head back into what you were working on.

This is what we’re up against.

It’s the Age of Distraction. No one ever prepared us for living all day long in an environment that’s designed to steal our attention and direct it elsewhere.

For rest of today—and maybe for the next few days—I’d like you to try one little experiment.

When you’re done checking email, close your mail program. That’s right, I said close it down so you can’t see when new messages arrive. So you can’t be tempted away from your real work.

This challenge may strike fear in your heart. After all, you want to be responsive to your customers. But I can assure you, that if someone has to wait 15 minutes to hear back from you, you won’t lose a sale.

Why this experiment? Because you are twice as likely to start clicking into another window if your email program is open. It’s human nature to do this. Our amygdala is watching out for us. But it’s killing our productivity.

So just for the next few days, shut down your email program after every single time you check it. See how it feels. We’ll talk about it when we get to the second More Sales Less Time challenge—coming soon.

After a successful career in the sales world, writing five books, and speaking internationally, Jill is now tackling an even bigger challenge. She's focused on bringing the "millions in the middle" together to solve some of the biggest issues facing our country and the world. Jill truly believes so much more is possible if we can work together.