So here is my prediction for the start of 2007. It's Thursday, Jan. 4, and more than some of you are feeling miserable right now. Was I right?
The new year is starting with or without you, and you're not sure you want to be where you are. You're not sure your manager likes you--but you are sure you don't like him (or her). You don't know what your 2007 quota is or the new and confusing commission plan that comes with it. You are unsure if your biggest account last year is going to renew, but you are sure you're dead in the water if it doesn't. And as a manager, you are so sure your top producer is interviewing--and worse, your weakest link is not.
The beginning to a year is always tougher than the end. So we console and comfort ourselves by getting into the warm intangible pool of predictions and related issues inside our own building. We participate in this annual drowning of all that is good replaced with projected concerns on how ill-prepared our company may be for "where the business is heading."
So why do we spend so much time discussing wishful needs versus current strengths? Why do we look at where our product is lacking versus the benefits it delivers to the right clients buying it? We do this in part because it's easier than looking at ourselves, and where we may be coming up short.
When coaching the Michael Jordan-led Bulls, Phil Jackson would tell his team, "You can't control whether you win the game, but you can control your effort." That's the only thing we can control in our business lives, our effort. And as salespeople who are encouraged to be out of the office we lose perspective throughout the year on how our own time gets wasted. Compounding this self-inflicted wound, we're great at selling ourselves on why it's OK to run errands, stop by the mall, send personal e-mails or hit the gym all during the workday.
I used to run a full-court game of basketball and then go to lunch--with no one remotely close to influencing a buy--at least two days a week on the clock of a former employer possibly named Newsweek. Be honest, if you could recollect effort allocated last year on non-related-revenue opportunities and reassign them to legitimate revenue opportunities, could you have been the No. 1 salesperson at your company?
What can you do right now, to give yourself the best chance of having a great year--your best year ever? Change this one bad habit we all share, faster than those you are invariably compared to. Here is how you can recapture that lost time--in time to do something about it.
Add a second handheld device/phone to your life. Then give the new number and subsequent e-mail address (just add a number at the end of your current business e-mail address to make the change easy) to pure business contacts only. Business contacts are defined as your boss, members of your team, and current clients--no one else. No family members, no "colleagues," no buddies, no reps at other publishers, not even clients you used to call on who have moved to another agency. No one gets this number and new e-mail address except those who will impact your 2007 revenue production.
Now bring both devices with you to work. When the old one prominently out-rings the new one, you will see where your time gets wasted. Once you've taken this step and are ready to look at improving yourself instead of focusing on the shortcomings that live inside every publisher's office, stop bringing your old handheld device/phone to work. Then watch and feel the dramatic increase in the efficiency of your own efforts. It feels great--I guarantee it.