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Hey Salespeople: What’s Your Main Focus?

posted on July 28th, 2015 in Development,Sales; Leave a Comment

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Every morning when I open up Chrome I am greeted with a scenic view of some beautiful location in the world and the question “What is your main focus today?” There is actually a place to add in ONE goal, objective or main task for the day.

Yes, this is an app called Momentum and it’s a personal dashboard designed to eliminate distraction and provide inspiration, focus, and productivity. It does just that. Each time I open up a new tab in Chrome I am immediately reminded of my original focus for the day. I need that reminder as I juggle meetings, a lineup of prescheduled calls, text reminders and gentle nudgings from my family.

 Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 7.11.03 AM

This morning the quote that popped up gave me particular pause:

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” —George Bernard Shaw

Why? I work with salespeople filled with the best of intentions, reasonable goals and unlimited opportunities who are stuck in the mire of those good intentions but not able to meet those quotas. At best, they find a new position that will carry them for a while and at worst they suffer through for years.

We can’t do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Yet we tend to languish in this place.

Professionally, I consider myself a sales professional before trainer, coach and consultant. Selling as a profession is not highly regarded but I have always begged to differ. Great salespeople are focused, have an unflappable and non-negotiable work ethic and are skilled in psychology, emotional intelligence, diplomacy, negotiation, thoughtfulness, communication, listening and technology. They are continual learners and insatiably curious. Someone with those skills will be a rock star.

Many of those skills are either innate or have been taught in orientation and through professional development. Today, it’s the technology skill that holds people back. Salespeople must be schooled in “technology.” Stop using the the excuse “I didn’t grow up with this stuff.” That riles me faster than my daughters asking me “What’s for dinner?”. No kidding. But it’s not a write off. There’s no technology amnesty.

In order to sustain or further your career, understanding what buttons to push, which programs to use, how various devices perform, what the “cloud” is, are important.

Last week I was training more than twenty former and current CEOs who now run their own businesses. There was one or two under 45 the others mostly over 55. They were rock stars. I knew there were about 100 things they would rather have been doing that morning but they were there, invested, ready to learn; and they did. They asked questions, they pushed back, they invented ways to make it work for them. But mostly, like Momentum’s tweetable quote from this morning said, they changed their minds. They realized they needed to do something different to build their practices.

They had been trained to dial for dollars and while it worked years ago it just doesn’t work to the same degree today. There are too many distractions (devices), too many meetings (no one is sitting waiting to pick up your call), too many gatekeepers (live person and voice mail). Today it’s about understanding how to use Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, CRM platforms, and leveraging your industry knowledge and network to grow your business. This is relevant for an emerging young professional, a small business owner or a seasoned regional sales VP who still manages a territory.

5 Tips to Learn the Thing Called “Tech”

  1. Understand which online tools will help you grow your business (know the why and how)
  2. Spend an evening or part of your weekend taking a class on Lynda.com (you should also be able to access through LinkedIn), Skillshare or any other of the other online course platforms.
  3. Hire a student or ask your kids to show you the tools they use for work (Google Drive, Evernote, Prismatic, Salesforce, LinkedIn).
  4. Ask your company about their professional development options.
  5. Ultimately, you are in charge of your own professional development and it’s easier today than ever through books, podcasts* (*currently, my preferred option, see some of my favorites below), online learning platforms, seminars, conferences and training and coaching engagements.

Don’t try to learn them all at once or even download them all at once. Pick one, learn it and decide if it works. I am beginning to realize that too many of these apps and tools slow us down, we’re suddenly managing our apps. I’m leaning on choosing a handful that play together and using them more often. There is a balance, no doubt.

As a sales professional, don’t forget that your main focus each day is to further your selling efforts. Your prospect and client nurturing should be the majority of what you do each day; not what you weave in between administrative and production tasks. I know it’s not easy but you didn’t sign up for easy, did you?

*My current favorite podcasts include:

Podcasts are really the radio stations of the early 21st century; talk radio, if you will. I guarantee that you will learn more than you could have imagined. Our learning, just like our networks, strengthen our professional currency. It’s less about what we like and more about what we need to acknowledge and invest in to move forward.

I have now completed my main focus for the day; this blog.

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Colleen McKenna launched Intero Advisory for businesses focused on increasing their sales and talent initiatives. Since 2011 Intero Advisory, a LinkedIn consulting, coaching and training firm has been engaged by more than 240 companies. Intero shakes up the status quo with a 'personal' approach to business by maximizing an individual's network, personal brand, and expertise.

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