The ability to focus in a world full of distraction is indeed a super power in the 21st Century.
The obvious enemy of focus is distraction.
If the source of sales success is focus and the obstacle to success distraction it makes sense to spend some time evaluating these two opposing facets of working life in the sales environment.
Focus viewed as a skill is the ability to ‘pay attention to’. The first question is to what? This aspect can be answered by starting with the end in mind and working backwards. What do I want to achieve? What does success look like in this area of my life? Then evaluating what are the key activities, which will afford success happening as a natural output of my focused attention.
Using a weekly meeting with oneself, plan these activities into a schedule. Do not put these on a to do list. Block these activities as if they were a meeting. Plan these in the morning when will power is at its highest. Part of this approach is to also evaluate the skills and knowledge needed to effectively execute the planned activities. In the spirit of being responsible for ones own self-development it makes sense to priorities self development aligned to the skills and knowledge needed to execute these activities.
‘Execution is the missing link between aspiration and results’ – Larry Bossidy
Once the plan is in place it is all about the execution of the plan and this is where distractions come in! Therefore, to make the execution of the plan successful we need to be aware of common distractions and plan in front of them to avoid or manage them. Part of this is becoming more self-aware. There is a natural propensity to get our own self worth from being busy. This manifests itself in managing ‘the urgent’ irrespective of whether it is part of the activities we need to be focused on ‘the important’.
Common distractions in a sales office include:
Turn them off and manage them as a focused activity 2-3 times a day Internet and social media. If you know that you can be distracted and drawn into a vortex of unstructured browsing or reacting to social media then turn the browser off or use a browser blocker such as Freedom https://freedom.to
Use the most underutilised feature they all have –the off button! The ping of an incoming message activates the dopamine system in the brain, the same system activated by a class A drug! Which is why they are so difficult to ignore.
Don’t accept every meeting you get invited to without evaluating its impact on your focused activities. Ask yourself: Does it support and augment work in your focused area? If not question why you would attend it.
Evaluate the elements of your working sales environment that provide distractions.
Further evaluate those elements you can control or positively influence. For instance. Can you book a meeting room for focused sales activities?
Enhance your effectiveness on key sales activities by planning them in the morning Pre manage the anticipated distractions by turning off mobile, e mail and social media alerts. Use something called the ‘Pomodoro technique’: Set a timer for 25 mins. Be totally focused on the activity in front of you for this time. Then give yourself 5 mins break and then repeat. Using this technique stops the propensity to multi task. Something that frazzles the part of the brain needed for executive control.
Recognise the part that distractions caused by ourselves or others have in reducing our effectiveness. Evaluate and act on what is in our control and influence. Reducing distractions also has a positive knock on effect on our well being and piece of mind as well as producing better quality of work