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Short Attention Spans

A common complaint from leaders is that their salespeople lack focus. It has a been constant theme in my 30 years as a real estate agency profit consultant.

One leader said his salespeople had the attention span of a gnat.

A short attention span is not a problem for most people. Watch people doing leisure activities – things they love to do. They have no trouble giving these activities their full attention.

When they watch a film at the cinema, they’re not fidgeting or walking in and out. If the film is interesting, it gets their full attention.

When the activity is interesting, it has no trouble garnering focus. Salespeople who aren’t focused on the job have managed to turn selling into a chore. Simply, they don’t find the work interesting.

Most salespeople love to do listing presentations and put sales together – who doesn’t? – but won’t do the more mundane tasks that increase the likelihood of them getting to the interesting tasks. Prospecting is a classic example.

Because they avoid prospecting, they do fewer listing presentations. And so they hop from task to task, working on the easier, less productive tasks.

Jeb Blount said in his excellent book, Fanatical Prospecting, that the number one reason for failure in sales is an empty pipeline, and the root cause of an empty pipeline is failure to constantly prospect.

Salespeople who have clear goals and written plans seldom lack focus. They have fun at work, and they get results.

They might find some tasks more interesting and enjoyable than others, but they do the tough tasks because they are working toward something bigger: they are working toward meaningful goals, something they WANT.

With a bigger picture to focus on, they understand that by working on the right tasks they will not only achieve their goals, but also derive huge satisfaction from the process of getting there.

Goal setters know what I am talking about.

Studies have shown that when somebody sets a goal – a goal that they have a 50/50 chance of achieving – they immediately feel happier. They are then happy to do tasks that would be otherwise judged arduous or mundane.

Short attention span? That is for goalless drifters.

Professional sales is not a lottery. It is not a matter of luck. You can control your results. You can achieve meaningful goals. And you can focus, over the long term.

Gary Pittard
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