The Myth of Multitasking

by | Sep 23, 2015

By Susan Dolton, Vice President, Sales Services

illustrationDo you and your sales team fall victim to the multitasking trap?

Multitasking. We all do it. We have to and it makes us more productive. Right? Put down your cell phone and read this.

Sales teams in retirement communities, like many of us, are bombarded with multiple tasks and responsibilities every day. With pressure to meet their outbound call and appointment goals, planning the details of marketing events, reading emails and texts, answering incoming calls, and conducting a home visit with a prospect, among many other activities, they often try to do two or more things at once.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is actually less productive than doing a single task at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information, whether it be from your phone or computer, cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who only focus on one task at a time.

The study was conducted by comparing groups of people, based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers—those who multitask regularly and feel that it boosts their performance—were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single task at a time.

Because your mind can only focus on one thing at a time, multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance. It furiously tries to jump back and forth between activities, trying to remember and think concurrently. It pays less attention to each task. Studies show that on average, a person loses 28% of their workday from interruptions.

“Our…research offers neurological evidence that the brain cannot effectively do two things at once.”   – Renee Marois, PhD, Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University

So how does this affect the efficiency of your sales team?

Let’s take a common sales example: making an outbound call to a prospect.

  • Has the salesperson spent time prepping for the conversation?
  • Have they thoroughly reviewed all the notes that have been recorded in the CRM about this prospect?
  • Have they established the goal of the call?
  • Have they written down possible questions to ask?

More than likely, the salesperson has not taken the appropriate time to focus and prepare for the call. In fact, it’s possible that while reading the notes in the CRM, they receive notification of a new email, so they open a new window to take a quick look. Feeling that the email requires a response, they do so and then return to the notes about the prospect. Five minutes have now passed and the notes have to be read again because all has been forgotten.

When the call is finally placed, due to lack of complete preparation, the salesperson is thinking about what to say or do next while the prospect is talking and misses a significant amount of valuable information.

The key to increasing your sales team’s efficiency is to create and implement standardized practices when it comes to procedure. Love & Company sales consultants provide our clients with specific techniques to purposefully avoid the multitasking trap.

For example, we encourage them to use the same technology that causes the interruptions, instead to their advantage. Record a voicemail greeting that explains when messages will be checked and calls returned. Turn off email notifications. Mute the cell phone and turn it face down on the desk. Turn off any instant messaging systems that are used. There is also the low-tech solution of closing the office door and posting a sign, “Calls in progress. Please do not disturb.”

Focusing our undivided attention on our prospects pays off. They want to be heard. They want eye contact. They want attentiveness. When we truly listen to their needs and goals, and thoroughly explain how our communities can enhance their lives, we all win.

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