The TACTIC: Put the phone down

Tactics Sales


Oh my God, thought Greg, it’s past eleven, and I haven’t gotten the preliminary proposal done. Where did my morning go?

And for a moment, he realized that he had been on the phone non-stop since getting into the office at eight am. Except for a quick dash to the coffee pot, he hadn’t left his desk. In fact, as he tilted the mug, he saw that most of the coffee was still in it.

“Who did I talk to?” he wondered out loud.

Well, the last call was from my wife reminding me to take the car in tonight. Ok. The one before was from that vendor who wants me to attend the trade show. Actually, she called me twice this morning. Then there was that message from someone I never heard of. Yeah, someone named William Bains. Called him back and wound up with voice mail. I called him twice. Or was it three times. Wonder if that’s a new prospect?

Just then his email beeped, and Greg stopped work to check. Turned out to be from one of the other salespeople wanting to know if he’d meet him for lunch. As he responded, he noticed it was now just past eleven-thirty.

“Couldn’t have been on the phone that long,” he said to himself.

Looking over his daily plan, he decided that there was no way he’d get the preliminary proposal done at the office. Might as well collect all the stuff and take it home tonight. At least then, he thought, I won’t be interrupted so much.

Better call Jim Williams, he thought. We have that Rotary meeting set up for next Wednesday. Want to make sure that it’s still on. Good place to maybe do some business. Then after lunch I’ll try this William Bains person again. Never know with one like that where it will lead.

Just then the phone rang again. For a second, the thought flashed through his mind that he was like some robot programmed by the ringing bell, but then the thought faded.

“Hi, this is Greg. How can I be of assistance?”


Greg spends another day not getting done what he had planned on doing. His daily plan of tasks to accomplish, which he makes at home before coming to work, never gets finished.


Unless your job is to make one call after another, in other words you are a telemarketer, then being on the phone or checking email all day or most of the day is robbing you of productive work time.

Unfortunately, one of the most popular myths of a successful salesperson is just that, being on the phone or monitoring email all day. The phone has been surgically implanted in your ear.

Why do so many salespeople fall victim to this myth? Salespeople, by their nature, like to socialize. Email and the phone are great ways to do it. Everyone likes to be informed and feel involved. So do salespeople.

And perhaps the biggest reason why salespeople trip over each other to answer the phone and check every email alert is that you never know if this call is going to be a sale. If you aren’t available every minute, you might lose the “big one.”


The first step in unplugging and making more money, is knowing how you use the tools. And right now you have no idea!

For a period of five working days, document your callers or the people you called, the purpose, and how long you were on. Do the same with your online activity. On the sixth day review this record. How much activity really had a direct relationship to making sales? Probably less than 10 percent. Now add up the time you spent on the other 90 percent. Frightening amount, isn’t it?

What to do about this? Screen your own calls by establishing a pre-set time limit for yourself. Get a free timer app or buy a three-minute egg timer and use it. At the beginning of the call, politely tell the other party you are limiting yourself to three minutes. Now stick to it.

The second thing you should do is establish a “no phone or email time” every day. Use this time to work on tasks and projects you need to accomplish.

Now keep track of your new habits for another five days. Look at how much more time is spent on sales.


Just because it rings doesn’t mean you have to answer it. Just because you answer it doesn’t mean you have to keep talking.

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