How a 'Standing' Introvert Cleaned My Clock in Sales and Productivity
I have a special friend we’ll call Mr. Butterman, an intentional name change to protect the innocent. (He would kill me if he had any idea I was writing this.) Why write about him? Because Mr. Butterman is the shyest, most unassuming person you would ever meet.
But still waters run deep. This old saying took on special resonance for me after Mr. Butterman cleaned my clock in sales and productivity. In fact, Quiet, Susan Cain's book about the power of introverts, was probably 100 percent based on him.
Quiet was definitely not based on me. My approach to sales and productivity is to jump up and down touting the latest and greatest resource added to my burgeoning business arsenal. I tackle each new quarter’s goals with boundless devotion. I read incessantly. I highlight the material and meditate on it for maximum performance.
Mr. Butterman's approach is, well, different: He'll smile at my blinding enthusiasm, then go back to his ballgame. Maybe he'll make himself a snack, then read, then go to bed, all without having made any "achievement" announcements whatsoever. Nope, none.
Can you believe that? Every super-motivated Anthony Robbins type knows that “ballgame time” could be better spent not just watching, but brainstorming, doing sit-ups or merely silently affirming while watching. In fact those Robbins types know that ballgame time is the perfect time to categorize customers and plot the next “touch” and nail the next piece of business (a "touch” being the kind of sales jargon that would make Mr. Butterman cringe).
Compared to my overactive, multitasking, 9,000-balls-in-the-air approach to advancement, Mr. Butterman always seemed to be somewhat asleep at the switch. I wore my overachiever's badge like a four-star general while Mr. Butterman calmly proceeded with his usual routines. In fact, I secretly believed that he needed a nudge from the big boss come the end of each quarter.
But, one day, Mr. Butterman let a little nugget slip: This mellow, nonmultitasking guy had chalked up five times the sales of anyone else in his company. I was sure I hadn't heard that right, since everyone knows quiet people can’t dominate the marketplace like we extroverts.
That's totally wrong, of course, and Mr. Butterman knew it. Suddenly realizing he had let something slip to the woman with the biggest mouth in the world (me), he was forced to admit his accomplishment. To tell you that I was speechless is a gross understatement, and while I should have championed his success, I was secretly and literally enraged.
It wasn’t possible that the most unassuming character on the block could be such a closer.
Exactly no one was going to beat me at my own game, so this hare (me, again) set out to document how that tortoise had won the race while I was reading and reciting and chanting my jargon. In fact, I swallowed my pride and tracked him like meteorologist tracks a a storm. And here are six things I discovered about this man's winning ways:
1. He had a routine.
Everything for Mr. Butterman had a routine, from what he ate for breakfast to when he paid his bills, to where he blew off steam on a random Monday night. In fact, he even prepacked his streamlined little briefcase with the following day’s to-do list (personal items circled in blue).
2. He intentionally limited his options.
He owned only two suitcases (because that’s all he needed! Of course! Doesn’t explain why I had 12, but ok). He also owned three belts, one the color of Post-Its, one the size of paperclips. There was exactly zero unnecessary garbage to him -- whether business-related or personal.
3. He followed up.
My God, did he follow up. Over and over, calmly and patiently. When somebody didn’t call back, he just tried again, lighthearted and cheerful in his message: “Just following up.” (Now, me, after round three of trying to reach some clown would’ve been incapable of containing the edge in my voice, let alone my multiple eye rolls. But, nope, that wasn't him.)
4. He stuck to his word.
If Mr. Butterman said he’d do something -- get a proposal out by 5, or shop for Mother’s Day-- that task always got done, with plenty of time to spare. Whether those were words to others or words to himself didn’t matter. He stuck to his commitments like glue.
5. He stayed in his lane.
Mr. Butterman's wardrobe and personal life were as finely honed as his laser-like focus at work. He knew exactly who his ideal client was, what his costs were and which products had the highest margins. He certainly never looked for the latest and greatest app to streamline his social media dashboard. In fact, he’s never once tweeted, posted or pinned anything, other than maybe a corsage at the high school prom.
6. He worked standing up.
This had to be the most flat-out, flipping ridiculous part of the whole thing. He literally decided to stand up and work. Out of the blue he mentioned how great those new standing desks were for your back, brain, productivity -- and probably world peace on top of it. Evidently, everyone at the orthopedist’s office used standing desks too, and that’s all the convincing he needed. (Side note: This advice must’ve been woven into an article about baseball because he sure didn’t encounter it thumbing through my best of business library.)
Sounds miserable right? Not. The arrival of this crazy desk that he swore by could easily have been mistaken for the delivery of a baby panda birthed to a supposedly infertile couple. Everybody at the office just had to stop by and see the blasted thing.
My net/net? Simplify your plan, strip out the noise, forget the cheerleading and, yes, stand while you sell. Get back to the basics of a tried and true routine to efficiently and effectively handle all of your key tasks, and you too might actually beat the competition five times over.
And, oh, by the way, guess what? Mr. Butterman even convinced me to get a standing desk. I purchased the reasonably priced and attractive UPLIFT 900 from The Human Solution. It was delivered a couple of months ago, and I love it. It helps me stay healthy and productive -- but don’t even think it got me to stop tweeting. Never going to happen. Chirp.