the time on a piece of paper before you read any further. You'll see why later.)
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. - Sun Tzu
To win on the global battlefront that is sales today you must first know your enemy. (If you don’t think business is a battle today you REALLY need this book.)
Due to the nature of this insidious enemy, I’m giving you the answer upfront.
Because the #1 enemy you and I face on a weekly, daily, hourly, minute-to-second basis is the inability to shut out all distractions and focus for any significant amount of time (at least 30 to 50 minutes at a stretch) to get any real work done.
Interruption and distraction are holding you back and it's your own damned fault!
This leads to a lack of focus, which is encouraged by "the myth of multi-tasking," which leads to an addiction for action and activity and busy-ness, which leads to a grooved, embedded, ingrained inability to accomplish anything meaningful in our professional, personal, financial, physical or spiritual lives.
This leads to dissatisfaction in our work lives, personal lives, and everywhere in between.
<Sidebar> I'm writing this section just one hour after spending the afternoon with Jeffrey Gitomer, (April 2011) one of the top sales trainers, authors, and speakers in the nation today. (Many years later I got to interview him on The Sales Podcast, where he gave me one of the best compliments I've ever received in business. I literally cropped it and sent the video to my mom!)
He has written at least a dozen books, thousands of articles, and he wrote a weekly ezine for a decade or more.
When I asked him how he got his first book done he said
When others are watching TV I'm writing."
(Ironically, I'm writing this in front of a fire at my hotel while dozens of others watch the NBA playoffs. How much money are they making at this moment?)
He then showed a picture of himself in Oregon where he goes to write his books now.
He prints out the pages of his book as he writes them and lays them out on the floor in multiple rows so he can visually see how it flows.
So even this accomplished author, speaker, trainer has the discipline to go to the opposite coast of the nation to write in isolation TO ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS SO HE CAN FOCUS!
Do you realize you are having dessert right here, right now before the drinks and appetizers are even ordered?
I know my time with you is limited and I want you to succeed because if I help you succeed I succeed.
I suffer from the onslaught of potential distractions.
You suffer from them.
So do your clients.
How do you get your client's attention FAST and retain their attention long enough to differentiate yourself? <Back to the regularly scheduled article already in progress.>
This hopping and shifting of focus and allowing distractions to assault you at any time of the day or night is literally killing you because it is holding you back from reaching your God-given potential.
This is frustrating you and creating stress. When you are stressed at not having a sense of accomplishment you make up for it by:
- Working more. (Notice how you haven't had fun since...forever? Why is that?)
- Exercising less. (Notice how those pants are a little tighter.)
- Eating worse. (Ditto.)
- Sleeping less. (Notice how many fun things you skip due to lack of stamina.)
- Consuming more drugs in the form of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, or worse to keep up as your stamina diminishes. (Notice how your desk and trash can are littered with empty cups, cans, and junk. Do you even remember where your office water fountain is?)
- Staying irritated and angry over more things longer. (Notice how you're getting invited to fewer parties lately.)
- Blaming others. (Notice how you're getting fewer favors done for you at the office.)
- Blaming God. (Notice how much smarter your parents are with every birthday that passes. Now multiply that by the biggest number you can think of. And add 10 to that number. God knows what He's doing so listen up.)
It is also drowning your company.
It is handcuffing our great nation at a time when we need to be as efficient and diligent and productive as we have ever been in our 235+ year history.
To succeed in business—which means you are generating revenue by selling something that adds value to the lives of your clients—you must recognize and internalize the mortal enemy you face and commit to doing everything in your power right here, right now to defeat him.
Exercise: Write down what time it is right now and then take note of two things:
- How long you can sit and focus on what you are reading.
- How many things you must ignore, turn off, or otherwise hide from in order to focus on your reading. This includes, but is not limited to:
|Web Surfing||Chat / Text||Phone Calls|
|Texting||Pets||TSA Agents||Black Holes|
|Text Messaging||King Cobras||TV / Radio||Spouses||Customers|
“Customers? Why did you end on ‘Customers,’ Wes?”
All of the above and more are conspiring to suck the business drive and life right out of you and deep down you know it.
Even your customers (which is why you need Clients...I’ll get to that later) are not there to help you.
Customers come to you to solve their own needs, wants, and desires.
Customers want great service (what a nightmare it is when companies advertise "Best Service In Town") at the cheapest prices and they want it now and they don’t give a sh*t about how inconvenient, unrealistic, or ignorant their demands might be nor how they might impact / CRUSH your bottom line.
So I end the list above on customers because you have to choose whom to lose, which means you need to fire some of your customers so you can focus on your clients to get your life and profitability back.
You can't help everyone and you know who the ones that make you cringe every time you see their number pop up on your caller ID.
Those are the ones that have to either go or get their prices raised tremendously.
Sounds harsh, I know, but it’s true.
And you know it.
That is why you must create processes, systems, and routines that shield you from the soul-sucking, momentum-mauling, business-breaking interruptions and distractions created by weak employees, greedy vendors, and needy customers that compete for your time and your money and thus far have succeeded in holding you back from reaching your true potential, which is larger than you have even dreamt, yet.
My sales, professional and personal lives all improved significantly when I realized I don’t personally have to answer the phone every time it rings.
“Well that’s obvious, Wes. Do you consider that some type of ‘enlightenment’?”
Yes. I do.
You see, I first got into sales in 1994 and entered it full time in 1997 right out of the Air Force.
Responsiveness and availability and responsibility and accessibility were all beaten into my brain since my days at the Air Force Academy.
Jumping into commission sales on a $345/week draw against commission with a wife and two sons less than a year apart helps a salesman focus.
The stress and responsibilities either bury you or give you superhuman abilities to outwork anyone in a 300-mile radius.
I thought dropping whatever I was doing to be at the beck and call of whoever had the urge to dial the right (or wrong) number of the device on my desk or on my hip was “how it was done.”
So I did it.
After years of answering every phone call regardless of where I was, what I was doing, or what I wanted to do I sought an alternative.
I knew that putting customers on hold, switching to other calls, losing the first customer I had on the phone or not focusing on what they were saying and missing vital information that caused me to waste time, set incorrect expectations with customers and have to make up for it with discounts or delayed sales or lost referrals or testimonials was just not right.
I knew there had to be a better way.
This wore on me and sent me on a search of how to sell more, faster, at higher margin, with less stress and more fun, fast!
So I studied and listened and watched and took note of the top sales trainers, motivational speakers, and coaches I could find.
I also studied successful businessmen and asked them what they did to get to the
top of the business food chain.
And I learned their "secrets."
Then I stopped answering the phone unless I was expecting the call and/or I knew the person calling and we were working on something truly important together.
Next, I turned off the TV.
My business grew. And my satisfaction with my business grew. And I started to have a life.
Now, unless we have a scheduled appointment to speak at the time you call there is a 97.8% chance you will get my voicemail.
Most people from family members needing to know where the dog’s suppository is to clients wondering when their order will ship to bosses wanting to review your pipeline to IRS agents wanting to parasitically paralyze you can just leave a message and they’ll be just fine with you getting back to them at the end of the day.
If they don’t want to leave a message or if it’s important they can and will call back, which has the added benefit of letting you know THIS call is important so you should take the time to speak with them.
This has the added ADDED benefit of letting the caller know it is a waste of their time to bother you with trivial matters because you won't take their bait.
It also puts them on notice that if they cry wolf you will NEVER take their call again.
And/or (here’s the best part) most will realize they didn’t really have that big of a problem so they either end up solving it on their own or because it wasn’t really a problem, it just fades away like footsteps on the beach without you ever having to know it even existed in the first place.
There are few—like, very few—like, really, really not many—things in life that absolutely, positively cannot wait 60 minutes to four hours to be addressed.
Those that are vital—truly life or death—will make themselves known, i.e. fire, floods, your biggest client just declared bankruptcy the last day of the quarter, Justin Bieber tickets are sold out, etc.
So let EVERYTHING that is not scheduled wait so you can focus on what is important—marketing your business, writing great copy, recruiting good people, prospecting, closing sales, making money.
This will enable you to then bundle/group your return calls when it is convenient for you and at a time when you can focus on them, thereby making you more efficient. (Bundling your efforts is something I address in more detail in “Piece of Mind = Peace of Mind.”)
- Focus leads to clarity.
- Clarity leads to efficiency.
- Efficiency leads to productivity.
- Productivity leads to profitability.
- Profitability leads to freedom.
Where's your weak link above? Let me know.
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.