Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Truth About Sleep & Productivity

Working overtime doesn't increase your output. It makes you stupid.
By Margaret Heffernan

Arianna Huffington talks often about how the key to her productivity is sleep.

It's a smart suggestion, not least because so many of us still imagine that the more we work, the more productive we are. For over a hundred years or more, this has been deemed nonsense.

The first productivity studies were conducted by Ernst Abbe at the Zeiss lens laboratories in the 1880s. They indicated what every other productivity study has shown since: that, up to around 40 hours a week, we're all pretty productive but, after that, we become less able to deliver reliable, cost-effective work. Why? Because when we get tired, we make mistakes—and the extra hours we put in are absorbed by correcting our errors. This is demonstrably true in industries like software coding, in which mistakes can cost a lot of time to put right. But it is equally true in manufacturing where more units of production also mean more flaws and waste.

Even though the data around productivity has proved pretty remorseless, humans have found the message hard to accept. It seems so logical that two units of work will produce twice the output. Logical but wrong. The critical measure of work isn't and never should be input but output. What matters isn't how many hours your team puts in, but the quality and quantity of work they produce.
Which is where sleep comes in. Although we might all like to imagine that we can work happily through the night, once again the data's all against us. Lose just one night's sleep and your cognitive capacity is roughly the same as being over the alcohol limit. Yet we regularly hail as heroes the executives who take the red eye, jump into a rental car, and zoom down the highway to the next meeting. Would we, I wonder, be so impressed if they arrived drunk?

The reason sleep is so important is because fatigue isn't simple. When we are tired, our performance doesn't degrade equally. Instead, when you lose a night's sleep, the parietal and occipital lobes in your brain become less active. The parietal lobe integrates information from the senses and is involved in our knowledge of numbers and manipulation of objects. The occipital lobe is involved in visual processing. So the parts of our mind responsible for understanding the world and the data around us start to slow down. This is because the brain is prioritizing the thalamus—the part of your brain responsible for keeping you awake. In evolutionary terms, this makes sense. If you're driven to find food, you need to stay awake and search, not compare recipes.
After 24 hours of sleep deprivation, there is an overall reduction of six percent in glucose reaching the brain. (That's why you crave donuts and candy.) But the loss isn't shared equally; the parietal lobe and the prefrontal cortex lose 12 percent to 14 percent of their glucose. And those are the areas we most need for thinking: for distinguishing between ideas, for social control, and to be able to tell the difference between good and bad.
I've sat in many boardrooms through the night, at the end of which seriously bad deals were done, I've seen the cost of sleep deprivation. Not just in bad tempers, bad diets, and bad decisions. But in the loss of truly productive work and discussion that could have been less heroic but a lot more valuable.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What is Inside Sales? — Our Definition of Inside Sales

The most pragmatic definition of Inside Sales is simple:

Inside Sales is “remote sales,” most lately called “virtual sales,” or professional sales done remotely. Where Outside Sales or traditional Field Sales is done face-to-face.

Taken in this context, the majority of all sales is done remotely, and the numbers are growing. A recent study done by SKKU and MIT, in conjunction with infoUSA, found that over the next three years, Inside Sales is growing at a fifteen times higher rate (7.5% versus .5% annually) over Outside Sales, to the tune of 800,000 new jobs.

More evidence: if you don’t believe it, grab a list of 10 traditional or “Outside Sales” people and call them. 7 out of 10 will be sitting in front of their computer, working in their cubicle, office, or home office—just like the Inside Sales people.

The term “Inside Sales” originally came about in the late 1980s as an attempt to differentiate “Telemarketing” (or “Telesales in the UK) from the more complex, “high-touch,” phone-based business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) selling practices.

Telemarketing is often believed to have begun in the 1950s by DialAmerica Marketing, Inc., reported to be the first company dedicated to telephone sales and services. By the 1970s telemarketing was a common phrase used to describe the process of selling over the telephone. It often included both outbound and inbound, but later became much more synonymous with the types of outbound calling we’re all familiar with—large-scale “blasts” to lists of names to try and drum up quick sales, usually while the family is sitting around the dinner table.

By the late 1990s/early 2000s, Inside Sales was the term used to differentiate the practice from Outside Sales—the traditional face-to-face sales model where salespeople went to the client’s location of business to engage in the sales process.

Companies found the new channel of Inside Sales to be undeniably effective, but often didn’t know what to do to solve the conflict between the younger, disruptive, more technically savvy upstarts who sold over the phone, and their more senior counterparts who wielded incredible political power in their organizations as the entrenched source of revenue for nearly a century.

For years Inside Sales has been relegated to generating leads for the more senior Outside Sales reps or merely closing the smaller accounts. This is now no longer the case. Many companies are already using a hybrid form of Inside Sales, with reps calling from their company’s home office, then traveling occasionally to client locations and merely calling it “sales.”

By Marc Benioff’s own admission in his book “Behind the Cloud, salesforce.com “grew their company for the first five or six years with a telesales or Inside Sales model.” They added Outside Sales or Field Sales to go upmarket when they wanted to sell to Enterprise-class companies, but the company still does a majority of their sales work remotely.

Another way of defining “Inside Sales” is to also state what it is not.

Inside Sales is not Telemarketing.

Let me repeat: Inside Sales is NOT Telemarketing. Telemarketing is a scripted, single-call-close, almost always targeting a small-ticket, business to consumer (B2C) model.

Inside Sales is not scripted. It requires multiple calls or “touches” to create a sales close, involves medium or large ticket goods and services, and targets business-to-business (B2B) or high-end business-to-consumer( B2C) transactions.

Inside Sales is professional sales done remotely. It is not the mindless “phone drone” that calls at dinner time and won’t hang up until you have said “no” seven times.

Inside Sales is also not Customer Service. Though Inside Sales frequently involves an element of inbound call handling like a customer service department, in its pure form it is not customer service.

Some companies erroneously describe their inbound call centers as “inside sales,” but this does not fall within the boundaries of our definition unless the agents’ primary function is selling.

Inside Sales is professional sales done remotely . . . it is remote sales.

Thanks to Ken Krogue for this article!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Team Building in 2012

It's a new year and for many organizations it's time to shake up your team building exercises. Push people outside of their comfort zone, give them an experience they will talk about for the rest of their lives, challenge them mentally,physically - let them find new boundaries to their resiliency.

Thinking this might be what your team needs? Check out Warrior Dash. MUD. SWEAT. BEER.

Races across the United States, Canada, Ireland, England and Australia.

Watch the video and decide if your team has what it takes to be a warrior.