The other day I was talking to a salesperson I respect very much when he said something that surprised me.
“In my opinion, laptop computers and iPhones hurt my selling more than they help it.”
“How can that be?” I asked. “Communications opportunities with clients and prospects are nearly unlimited now. Doesn’t all the new technology help you become a more efficient communicator?”
“Here is the problem,” he said. “People are abusing the system and overloading the communications channels with tons of information that distract me, and my clients, from our work. My communications get lost in a sea of messages. And when I walk around our offices, you would be surprised how many people, including salespeople, are reading some sort of distracting blurb or visiting a non-work related website. It would be like everyone having a TV on his/her desk 10 years ago that they never turned off. Companies would never have allowed that back then, but there isn’t much they can do about it now since the same tool is used for work.”
“So how are you coping with all this?”
“I am trying to be more disciplined. Instead of checking my emails constantly, I check them twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon. Same with my calls. I don’t text anymore. I found that most of the texting was not essential and it drove me nuts keeping up with it…it’s incredibly addictive. And since everyone else seems to be defaulting to faceless communication, I have stepped up my drop ins and personal visits …they can be a real differentiator now.”
The communications world is changing so fast that it’s hard to say if my friend is on to something with his contrarian thinking, but I do know this. There are a lot of bandwagons to jump on these days from Facebook and Twitter to texting and personal videos. But it still comes down to content, that is, what the communicator has to say and how he/she is able to move the audience to action.
I agree with my fellow salesperson that, to the extent the process distracts us from focusing on our core mission, or does not correlate clearly to revenue generation, it can provide a very seductive but false sense of connectivity and productivity for us as salespeople.