(By Bob McCurdy) In radio sales it’s easy to get caught up in an ever-accelerating fast lane, too busy to notice how we could be working smarter — more effectively and efficiently. Ironically, slowing down might help. While slowing down to speed up sounds counter-intuitive, it often results in greater productivity.
Slowing it down is effective as it has to do primarily with better preparation and anticipation, two things that are within our control. It’s about keeping the focus on the “important” when others become distracted by the “urgent.”
Those who properly prepare are better able to adjust to ever-changing selling circumstances, and those who anticipate have a better understanding of what exactly they should be preparing. Anticipation and preparation allow us to initiate rather than react. Initiating is good, reacting is not so good, as we have less control.
Successful chess grand masters and military generals need to think steps ahead and so must we. So how do we slow it down to ultimately speed it up? Agility, ability, and skill are necessary to succeed in sales but being anticipatory ranks right up there as well. This means setting aside time each day to map out what we want to accomplish, identifying obstacles we’re likely to encounter, and then having a plan to overcome them. Slowing it down to speed it up is largely about having already done what needs to be done before it actually needed to be done. It is:
— About being organized, which includes having easy access to information and data that assist us in telling our story. Do not under-estimate the importance of this. Having access to key blogs, studies, articles, industry/station information, and insights that have previously crossed our desk can assist in more quickly compiling and more effectively presenting our “case,” and is worth thousands of dollars. How much time is wasted unsuccessfully rifling through files or Googling information in search of that key piece of information that would “make” our story? Developing such a system is about investing a little time up front to save a lot of time later. The anticipatory part is recognizing that this info/data might be helpful in the future. The preparation part is effectively storing it. Doing this enables us to spend more time operating in an even-keel mode which leads to greater productivity than operating in the urgent or trouble mode.
I have always viewed the upkeep of such a system as “pre-emptive” work as well as a powerful time saver and stress suppressor. Speed is an important weapon in sales and having a system to quickly access important material is invaluable.
— About focusing on the important and not overreacting to the urgent. Time constraints are among the most pervasive sources of stress and pressure in the workplace and result from having too much to do, in too little time, which more often than not is the result of inadequate preparation and anticipation. Focus on the important as the urgent is usually not that important, and the important is usually not urgent. Knowing the difference is key. Refine this skill.
— About avoiding procrastination. Do what needs to be done before it needs to be done. It might mean getting in a little earlier to effectively set your stage for the day but it will come back to you in greater income and job satisfaction.
In sports, slowing it down to enhance performance has been referred to as being in the “zone.” Tennis great John McEnroe once reported that he feels time slows down as he is about to hit the ball. In reality the zone is nothing more than a physiological state that occurs when there is a balance between the task/challenge at hand and one’s skills for accomplishing that task/challenge. “Zone” experiences are accompanied by a consciousness, whereby the athlete understands the task and feels confident and in control of their performance, which is a direct result of preparation and anticipation. The same is true in sales. While the challenges are different, we too are “athletes” competing on a different field.
Slowing it down helps identify patterns, information, issues, insights, and opportunities that might have been previously overlooked or unclear while operating in the fast lane. So slow it down to move faster and further with greater ease, purpose, and success. The takeaway is “Be quick but don’t hurry.” I stole this last quote from a wise man who also said, “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” You can view a short clip of him here. Don’t know who he is? Google the name John Wooden.