Salespeople and Managers Should Stop Bragging About How Busy They Are

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You’re not special because you are busy. Working a bazillion hours and jamming your calendar with more meetings than your colleagues doesn’t make you more valuable. Or more productive. Your perpetually overwhelmed state should not be worn like a badge of honor. And we’d all appreciate it if you stopped bragging about how busy you are. We get it. You’re busy. You’re important. You are giving it everything you have.

News flash for salespeople, sales managers and even overwhelmed executives: You were not hired to do work; you were put in your position to produce results. Let me say that again: Your job is to drive results. There is no prize for handling a bigger load, attending more meetings, doing large doses of work – particularly work that doesn’t move the needle or that you let others put on your plate.

You don’t work in factory and are not being evaluated by how much work you do or how many boxes you pack. And I’d say that if you are being judged or treated in such a manner then you probably work in the wrong place for the wrong people (micromanager control freaks).

One word of caution and a brief disclaimer, lest the lazy, underperforming salesperson take my message out of context. Don’t read what I am not saying here. I am not saying that sales activity doesn’t matter. It does. I’m a huge proponent of key activity metrics, working the sales math, and a high-frequency sales attack. What I am saying, emphatically, is that being busy, even extremely busy, in and of itself, can be worthless. And that is particularly true when we’re busy because we are fighting customer service fires, responding to nonsense emails, attending all kinds of non-sales related meetings, etc.

Today’s reality is the everyone is busy. We’re all over-connected, over-meeting-ed, over-emailed. So allowing yourself to live even more out of control and more out of breath doesn’t make you better and more valuable. Or even provide you with more job security. In fact, it may do the opposite.

When  a salesperson is too busy to strategically segment their current accounts so they can focus on those that are most growable, then they’re too busy. How about this common excuse: “I’m slammed right now so I don’t have the time to prospect for new business.” As if we should buy that reasoning because developing new business surely isn’t a priority or high-payoff activity, but sitting in meetings planning the company July 4th barbecue is!

How about the drowning sales manager whose team isn’t hitting their numbers but he’s too busy to work in the field with his people or conduct a regular monthly 1:1 meeting with each salesperson?  Should we be glad he’s so busy sitting on corporate conference calls, preparing reports for senior management, or playing good corporate citizen trying to help the engineering team track down a quality issue?

What would happen if instead of trying so hard to stay busy (or be seen as busy) you did a complete about-face? What if you made a list of just your two or three highest-payoff activities? You know, the precious few things you could work on that actually drive results. And then if you had the guts to A) confront your boss and colleagues making it clear that you needed to stop the madness of trying to do everything so you could focus on the right things, and B) took back control of your calendar and began blocking dedicated times to work exclusively on these highest-payoff activities.

How great would it be to brag about the impact you were making and the results you were driving instead of how busy you are?

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