attention economy

Salespeople & Attention

Mind-space is precious in the Attention Economy

I am training a team of 12 professional business-to-business salespeople tomorrow. In addition to looking forward to the session hugely, I am thinking today about the challenge it represents.

Why a challenge? Because this team, and others just like them, do something every day that most people find very tough. They venture out into the business landscape and uncover and build new relationships. They create opportunities to connect with customers and prospective customers. They compete every day in the Attention Economy.

And they do all of this in an environment where business people are incredibly busy. Getting busier by the day.  Marketing and advertising types have been talking for years about the rapid increase in the number of promotional messages we are being bombarded with every day. But this is only part of the picture.

Getting attention | Protecting attention

While it’s possible to count the number of message we’re exposed to in any given day, it’s not possible to count the number of messages that make it past the filters our brain applies. Getting our attention is the goal, and obviously not every message that approaches us is taken in.

Protecting our attention and applying it in a conscious, structured and measured way is crucial to our effectiveness. And this is where modern life is creating challenges for all of us. There are more devices. Cleverer techniques. Increasingly innovative blends of the social, professional and personal.

Very early on in our session tomorrow, I need to convince the sales team that my program, and my self, is worthy of 4.5 hours of their attention. If I don’t achieve this, the likelihood that my training program will have any positive impact is low.

The title of the HBR article that became a book, “Why should anyone be led by you” can be applied here. For professional salespeople, asking the question: “Why should anyone pay attention to you” is key. It’s key for me tomorrow too. I think I have the answer. Let’s hope I’m right.

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