The first time I ever heard the words “comfortably numb” within a business context was when Larry Caizzi, the Director of Purchasing at Pacific Packaging said them. Over the years, I’ve realized how right he was, and how easy it is to become comfortably numb. Take sales people for instance. We put in all that time and effort to finally secure the account we’ve been pursuing for a long time. And then, once the ink is dry, we breathe in a big sigh of relief and relax, thinking about how great everything’s going to be now.
But we’re sales people, and that means looking for the next big account to bring on board. Over time, the account we just secured naturally starts drifting down our list of priorities. We know it’s still there. It’s a persistent noise in the background reminding us that there’s more to sales than just acquiring new accounts. We promise ourselves we’ll reach out to them just as soon as we can, but never seem to find the time to return their calls or schedule the much needed in-person sales call.
It might even get to the point where we start complaining to our manager that the account is becoming a real pain-in-the-ass. Yes, I said it. I’ve witnessed it too, the evolution of an account full of profit potential being relegated to nothing more than a pain in the… well… you know. From there, it’s just a quick hop to becoming numb to the account altogether.
Of course the greatest danger is not just being comfortably numb when it comes to our work, but in life as well because the reality is that if it’s happening at work, then it’s probably happening at home too—and vice-versa. Here are a few reminders that might expose areas in your life where the pressure to succeed might have nudged you into the comfortably numb zone:
- Take responsibility for what you bring into your relationships. It can’t always be someone else’s fault.
- Simple words like “Please” and “Thank You” are words that will help you build rapport. Once you start looking for opportunities to use them, opportunities will abound.
- Treat every encounter like it’ll be the last time you’ll be able to meet with that person… because it just might be.
- Let people know you value your relationship with them. Doing so will build bridges that will stand the test of time.
- Remind yourself of how much it meant to initially establish the relationship. If it was worth the effort then, isn’t it worth the effort now?
- Remind yourself of what you stand to lose if you continue to ignore the relationship.
- Shift your focus away from thinking solely about what’s in it for you. Think and act from the perspective of adding value, and your relationships will continue to blossom and grow.
- Don’t just post an update on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+ and think that will suffice. Don’t just send a tweet, or post on Pinterest, or send a group email. None of these adequately replaces the respect of picking up the phone and actually speaking with someone.
Now it’s time for you to stop and think about the areas in your life where you’ve become "comfortably numb". Decide what you need to do, do it, and let the results you get speak for themselves.
Alan Luoma is a Sales Coach with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, new product development, sales and product training. He works part time with a national sustainable packaging company and their distributors to increase sales. Alan is an expert that speaks on eliminating behaviors that prevent you from being successful in sales and uncovering sales prevention departments that hinder your success. He is a member of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network, The National Speakers Association and New England Speakers Association. You can view his profile on LinkedIn, or contact him at Luoma@snet.net