Listen, Excellent Customer Service is Going to Become THE Differentiator

Customer care is set to become one of the most important issues facing businesses in every market – fact!

Customer care programs come under a number of titles – customer services; customer satisfaction; customer focus; customer orientated etc. Their common theme is meeting the customer’s requirements and ensuring that all aspects of the business contribute to customer satisfaction. The intention is to build repeat business. If customers are satisfied with the product and the standards of service they receive, they will return again – and again.

However, the reality is that whilst “most”companies have become totally focused on identifying and then converting new opportunities, “most”companies are pretty awful at retaining – let alone developing , existing accounts/customers.

“Most”organizations have become totally commercially promiscuous, continually looking for that new exciting conquest, and that inevitably leads to …

Inconsistent Customer Care

Inconsistent customer care performance can have a negative effect on customer perceptions. Petrol companies, for example, know that every time a customer walks into one of their outlets, wherever they are in the country, they should expect to receive the same standards of service. Nation-wide consistency is essential when customers are likely to visit multiple outlets and one poor performance can threaten the customer’s perception of the entire brand.

What Is Customer Care?

Despite popular misconception, customer care is about addressing three sets of requirements:

- Customer

- Staff

- Organization

These requirements are inter-related – i.e. it is more difficult to deliver consistently high standards in customer care, if the needs of both the organization and the staff are not taken into account.

Let me elaborate …

Customer Requirements

- Excellent personal service – feels valued, listened to, treated as an individual

- Products/solutions that meet expectations

- Encouragement to express views and give feedback

- Effective relationship with the organization

- Problems and complaints are handled effectively

Staff Requirements

- Effective management style:

- Suitable working environment – pay and conditions / tools for the job

- Relevant training to develop skills

- Career potential

- Clarity of role / job description

- Performance standards and appraisal systems

- Sense of involvement / value

- Open communication

- Teamwork

- Appropriate rewards / Recognition

Organizational Requirements

- Mission statement

- Corporate structure

- Feedback and communication systems

- Profit

- Human and technical resources

- Demonstrated commitment

Only when we get all three elements right, can we consider that our organization is capable of delivering consistently high levels of customer service.

Customers are not like tissues, to be used and then discarded – any company that thinks like that, will soon find that the box is empty!


Have a wonderful weekend – wherever you are! JF

The Five Words Which Really Excite C-Lounge Residents

So, yesterday I boldly stated that in “reactive sales situations” if we are on top of our game, we should not anticipate objections, because after rigorous qualification, we simply give the customer what they need or want, and achieve an appropriate profit for ourselves – “win-win.” (If you missed yesterday’s post, you should read it first, and catch up, because it is wholly relevant to what I am about to say next)

Thinking about that last paragraph, there is one sub-statement that really stands out “give the customer what they need or want” But what if we are selling a product/solution/service that the suspect/prospect doesn’t know they need or want?

This is where we experience objections; this is the “pro-active sales situation” and it is here is where our real sales skills come in to play. 80% of the sales population can frame a solution for a willing customer, but creating a desire/demand is where the big boys and girls come into their own. It is what I refer to as “grown up’s time”

Sometime ago, one of “me learned colleagues” (who allegedly only operates in the Fortune 500 sector) suggested in a written response on a popular sales site that most salespeople never get anywhere near the C-Lounge. This of course is total nonsense: The reality is that 99% of all businesses in North America employ less than 100 people, which means they fit into the SMB to medium sized category. This also means that C-level personnel are very much involved with making decisions about significant spend, and we absolutely have to meet with them, unless we are going to rely on “recommenders” to sell our solution upwards – never a satisfactory option!

OK, what are the five words that tend to grab the attention of C-level personnel?

They are, in no particular order: Save, Gain, Reduce, Increase and Improve

Now, when you think about your solution/service/product offering, can you prove that it can achieve any of those five objectives?

If you can, then in a pro-active sales situation, you are far less likely to encounter an objection: Most companies, in most sectors, will find budget, if it means that the return on investment is worth it – if they are convinced that the savings/gains/reductions/increases/improvements are going to be worth the outlay.

The reason why the top ten per cent of sales professionals rarely spend time fending off objections is simply because they rarely encounter them!

In summary, I would say this: unless you are attempting to sell something to someone that they neither need nor want, you should not encounter objections. But I would add this caveat; in the pro-active sales situation, we must expect to encounter many companies/people who do not know what they don’t know, and we have a responsibility to educate them. This is where the very best sales professionals outshine the also-rans significantly.

Finally, yesterday I promised to share how years ago I adapted Neil Rackham’s brilliant S.P.I.N. sales theoryto meet my own needs. OK, it really is very simple, and I feel certain that many other salespeople have done very much the same: I simply added an “S”to the end, which gave me S.P.I.N.S, and I created: Situation, Problem, Implication, Need and “Solution”

Why is that so powerful? My prospects actually tell me that they need my solution; I don’t need to tell them. We arrive at the same place together, and the process begins immediately, as we co-create a significant program of improvement.

Do We Really Need to Keep Discussing Objection Handling?

The fairly short answer to this question is “Yes and no – it depends”

Depends on what? Well, it depends on whether we are discussing a reactive sales opportunity, or a pro-active one.

Allow me to explain: A “reactive sales opportunity”is when we are approached by a prospect or existing client, to provide a quotation/proposal/price. These days, that is called “inbound” They have pre-selected us as a potential supplier, because now, if it is true that these people are coming in much further up the “decision curve”they are already armed with most of the information they need to make a final decision.

This means they have, in all probability, researched our company; familiarized themselves with our product/solution offerings; checked out our track record; assessed us against their buying criteria, and reached the conclusion that we may – and it is only mayat this point – be a possible contender to become their preferred supplier.

The fact that they are approaching us makes this what I term a “reactionary sale”They have made the first move, and as such, have removed much of the need for us to sell ourselves to them – they have eliminated a considerable chunk of the foreplay stage, but we should not assume that they are prepared to go straight to the cigarette!

It would be easy – and understandable – to assume that they are merely now looking for the lowest price, but in most cases this is not true: They will most certainly be looking for the best value for money, and price performance, which could include a fairly complex criteria: That criteria will include specific and relevant strengths, such as demographics, and even psychographics; a successful track record with similar deals/installations; longevity in the market; financial stability; leadership in the sector, etc.

In this scenario, if we are able to satisfy all of their needs, it is highly unlikely we are going to encounter many objections, if any.

Let me illustrate my point …

Imagine that you are in the market for a new car: You decide that you would like to buy a second-hand Range Rover, and you go online to locate all the dealers close to your location. You call the first one on the list, Farrington Range Rovers R’ us and you get to speak to the owner, Jono Farrington.

The call would probably go like this:

You: “Good morning, I am thinking about buying a second-hand Range Rover, what do you have in stock?”

JF: “Good morning madam/sir (the Farrington family are renowned for their courtesy) may I ask you a few questions to determine your precise requirements?”

You: “Yes, of course” (you aren’t going to say) ”No, you have to guess”

JF: “To begin with, can I determine your budget i.e. how much do you want to pay?”Absolutely critical question, for obvious reasons

You: “I really don’t want to spend more than $50.000, and it would be good if I could spend less”

JF: “OK, that means we are looking at a two year model, with around 20.000 miles on the clock, is that acceptable?”

You: “Yes, that is what I was expecting, I have done some research”

JF: “Do you have a preference for color?”

You: “I really love the metallic silver”

JF: “OK, and transmission, manual or automatic?”

You: “Definitely auto, please”

JF: “What about upholstery, do you prefer leather?”

You: “Oh yes, definitely”

JF: “What about extras like tow-bars, CD player, satellite-navigation, etc.?”

You: “Well, music is a plus, but air-con is essential, please”

JF: “When are you looking to purchase/take delivery – what are your time scales?”

You: “If I find exactly what I am looking for, I have finance arranged, and can take delivery immediately”

JF: “Please leave it with me, and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours – is that OK?”

You: “That’s great, thank you”

Within 24 hours, I call you back as promised: “Good morning, this is Jono Farrington from Farrington Range Rovers R’ us, we spoke yesterday about your requirements for a Range Rover”

You: “Oh yes, good morning”

JF: “Can I confirm that your requirements are still exactly the same?”

You: “Yes, they are the same as we discussed yesterday”

JF: “OK, good. I have sourced a 2013 model, so it is just fifteen months old, with 14.000 miles on the clock. It is metallic silver with automatic transmission, air-conditioning, and a top of the range CD unit. It also has the latest satellite navigation system, which is a bonus. Oh, and it is just $42.000 -when would you like to come and collect it?”

What just happened in that scenario? Well, quite simply, I matched your requirements – in fact I exceeded them (to use another well-worn cliché) you were prepared to pay $50.000, so I saved you a considerable sum of money. You also would have accepted a vehicle with up to 20.000 miles, and of course, whilst not instantly obvious, that sat-nav will come in very useful.

This was a typical reactive sales opportunity, and after thorough qualification, I not only matched your needs, but also left you with no opportunity to raise an objection.

Ah, but what about “pro-active sales scenarios” I hear you all ask, almost in unison. I’ll discuss that tomorrow – and I’ll also share how I adopted Neil Rackham’s superb S.P.I.N sales program to suit my personal needs.

Knowledge is the Key to Becoming “Relevant”

In days gone by, whenever anyone mentioned “knowledge,” there would be an immediate assumption that they were going to discuss product knowledge: That is understandable; even today, 80 per cent of all training budgets are spent (invested?) on teaching sales teams all there is to know about the “product range”

The reality is that product knowledge is no longer a differentiator. It is a very basic requirement of all successful frontline sales professionals. In other words, it’s part of the entrance exam – not a higher qualification.

Today, knowledge really is power, and that means ..
- Industry knowledge
- Sector knowledge
- Competitive knowledge
- Company knowledge
- Business knowledge (acumen)

As the discussions and debates continue regarding the future of professional selling, one fact is very clear: The relevance of a salesperson in the “buying process”- yes, we have moved away from the “sales process” – is becoming increasingly diminished. This is quite simply because buyers - who are more self-educated than ever - are entering the cycle so much later.

That’s why our interactions with buyers need to be wholly relevant.

Wholly relevantmeans using our knowledge – our complete knowledge – to justify our right to be part of a customer’s purchasing process.

As we move up the food chain, our ability to use different “languages”also becomes increasingly important. We have to become commercially “multi-lingual” because C-level executives, for example, rarely use the same language as members of an information technology team. And both groups naturally have different sets of buying criteria.

In the very near future, having the right attitude, a broad range of sales skills, and familiarity with internal consultative sales processes will not guarantee our survival. The key will be the extent of our “commercial bandwidth” – and that means our knowledge.

PS: This week’s Top Sales Magazine has just been published:  We have an excellent interview with Etien D’Hollander, CEO of Front Row Solutions, plus superb articles from Geoffrey James, Miles Austin, Babette Ten-Haken and Nancy Nardin.

If you are not already signed-up, please do so today – it is FREE -

When Buyer and Seller Act as Partners, They are Building a Bridge to Profitability

As I have said on numerous occasions, sales success today demands a radical shift from the “peddler” mentality of merely demonstrating products and expanding on their features. It requires treating the customer as a participant. More often than not, a “flashy” sales presentation alone alienates rather than persuades.

The best salespeople regard the sales call as a two-way conversation – not a one sided pitch.

Average salespeople score fairly well in their ability to provide customers with facts and figures, but top performers dramatically outscore the rest when it comes to gathering information. In addition, how a salesperson collects information still distinguishes exceptional achievers from the rest of the pack. I.e. top performers ask more relevant questions and as a result gain much better information. Essentially, they aim to engage customers in the buying process with questions that require thoughtful answers, that stimulate curiosity and that reveal the customers underlying needs – and their commercial objectives.

It is my perception and belief that most businesses need to re-define selling and what constitutes basic selling skills, because in to-day’s world of selling, there is less and less room for apprenticeship.

The reality is that selling has become an exclusive club of highly skilled professionals where product knowledge and time management skills, for instance, are the cost of membership not leadership.

On-going research demonstrates that today’s average salesperson is just as effective as the high performer in explaining features and benefits effectively, relating a service or product to customer needs and closing a sale. But, above this entry level of competence, the exceptional salesperson is busy defining the basic skills of tomorrow.

Building an up-to-date foundation in sales competence does mean sacrificing some old notions of what it takes to succeed in a competitive marketplace. For example, a salesperson can no longer just “win by knowing”and I would urge every company to test their assumptions about what skills really contribute to sales success. Too often operating on old sales theories means training and rewarding people to do the wrong things.

Successful selling is definitely not about the “hit and run”sale. Top sales achievers regard their relationships with key customers as a partnership and cultivate it as such. When customers face tough business challenges and complex technological choices, they rely on sales people who can assist them in making the right decisions.

The primary objective of a sales partnership has to be, “to create and sustain a mutually productive relationship,which serves the needs of both parties, now and in the future.”

The key word here is symbiotic. Partnership does not mean eliminating the tension between buyer and seller; it means that top-performing salespeople know how to strike a balance between achieving immediate results and developing the relationship fully.

In summary, I would say this: Many organizations have developed without objective analysis of their purpose and structure. The buying power in many industries is no longer evenly distributed – in a large number of markets a few big firms control the majority of purchases.

Since the arrival of Sales 2.0 and Social Media, the development of new marketing techniques has meant that many tasks traditionally performed by the sales team can be more effectively handled by other methods. The prime objective of all sales staff is to gain business. From an organizational point of view, however, how they all achieve their goals must be defined in order to identify what kind and the quality of skills that are required.

Finally, I must emphasize that customers are better persuaded when they are part of the process and not part of the audience, but I must also re-iterate that relationships take time to build – rather like trust.

It’s No Secret-We Can Only Control and Manage What We Understand

There are two escalating pressures in today’s marketplace that are creating a need for a more disciplined approach towards sales opportunities:

- The need to be more specialized and individualized in dealing with clients, because we can no longer afford to treat all situations in the same way.

- The reality of competition: Often to increase market share, you must do so at the direct expense of the competition. The competitive intensity of the sales environment is escalating with the globalisation of the economy.

These are the main “drivers” behind the demand that organizations adopt methodologies and processes to manage these issues.

By utilizing a rigorous and formal opportunity assessment, we are aiming to achieve two sets of objectives:

Business Objectives
- Determine which sales opportunities should be pursued at the direct expense of others
- Given resource limitations, decide where and on what basis resource should be allocated to a sales opportunity
- Determine whether our company is over-investing or under-investing in a sales opportunity
- Enhance forecast accuracy
- Use “proven” criteria to reduce the cost of sales

Sales Objectives
- Identify, quantify and categorize opportunity assessment criteria
- Increase “Hit-Rate” (Win – Loss ratios) by avoiding unsuitable business
- Discover where we and our competition stand with a customer
- Gain a complete and accurate view of a sales situation prior to writing a sales plan to win
- Calculate the probability of winning or losing a deal early in the sales process.

All sales professionals claim to be permanently time constrained – we always have limited time and resources with which to achieve our targets. Therefore, we can be involved in only so many accounts or sales situations before we begin to lose our ability to manage what is taking place. At that point, we lose control and the competition takes control.

We can only control and manage what we understand and that is the real value of continuous and rigorous assessment of our pipelines.

Finally, we must remember that we do not earn commission for having an “overly- pregnant” pipeline – but we do earn commission for closed business!

Have a wonderful w/e, wherever you are!

PS: You might enjoy this “How I Work” piece, courtesy of Matt Heinz, which was published yesterday, if you ever wondered … well, how I work! You can read it HERE (Do please re-tweet/like it for Matt)

The Key to Why Sales Training Fails

If the objective of a training program is for people to apply that learning in the workplace and make an observable difference to an organization’s results, then almost all corporate training fails to achieve its objective.

In a fairly recent study, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) reported that only 3% of training reached Kirkpatrick’s “level 4 of training evaluation results” where there is an impact on the organization. In contrast, 95% of training reached “level 1” where the participants liked the training.

A further breakdown of the study revealed that 37% of training reached “level 2” where participants learnt the material and only 13% of training reached “level 3” where participants applied the learning in the workplace.

There are several failures, which lead to this huge waste of training dollars …..

When training is not related to the organization’s objectives, strategies and management’s day-to-day behaviour, training is ineffective in delivering the desired results. Generic “off the shelf”training which has not been designed for a specific purpose with people from a known organization in mind, may increase an individual’s knowledge, but it does not increase their ability to apply the knowledge. Even if training is devised specifically for an organization, it will still be ineffective when it does not relate to the day-to-day life at the coal face of managers, supervisors and shop floor personnel.

Understanding the coal face before commencing training is the most significant preparation a trainer can achieve.

An organization spending considerable money on training should insist on the training company having that understanding. The first utterance by the trainer which results in a response from their audience, “That does not happen here” is the moment that the trainer begins to lose the trust of the audience.

When trust is lost, so is value and significant parts of the audience stop listening and participating. The worst part of it is that, most times, the response is silent and the trainer may well continue unawares.

A further cause of wasted training dollars is the use of methods, which are not designed to achieve the change in behaviour, skills or knowledge that is desired.

For example, lecture style methods used to change behaviour are inappropriate as they are best used to transfer only knowledge.

To change behaviour, the training needs to be of an experiential type and must be supported after the training is completed by coaching and a structure of formal and informal rewards. If the method used to train is useful for achieving the required change theoretically, it is still at times inappropriate for the audience.

For example, role-plays are effective for improving skills as they allow participants to practice what they have learnt. However, if the participants are unlikely to be comfortable with role-plays, then the method is still unlikely to be effective.

The most significant waste of training dollars however, rests with the lack of thought in determining what training is needed. Training is seen as a classroom exercise rather than a combination of learning interventions, which in combination results in developing the change in behaviour, skills and knowledge required. The failure of mangers and supervisors to determine what needs to change and developing an intervention framework to achieve the change is common. The failure of trainers to insist on finding out before completing their instructional design is more common.

Behavioral change needs personal coaching of the individual and support by a strong framework of goal setting and two-way feedback, if not 360 degree feedback. Skills development needs coaching of a different kind, one where the emphasis is on demonstration and practice. The practice needs to be in an environment where mistakes can be made and learnt from.

Knowledge can be learnt from books, lectures and interactive CDs to name a few. However, knowledge needs to be used in context to breed confidence. Therefore, training in knowledge must be quickly followed by the individual being placed in an environment where it is used.

The fact that training fails so often because of a lack of clearly understanding the changes we want to develop and developing a broader training intervention beyond the classroom is not good. Combine it with the habit of many individuals to treat training as a CV builder, absorbing little but the most basic understanding of what was being taught and a recipe for systemic low productivity is created as the blind lead the blind.

Trained individuals using the most basic of understanding learnt in a classroom to make decisions, implement projects and manage their people have a false sense of competence, which impacts far beyond the classroom.

It is the responsibility of managers, supervisors and most importantly, the trainers, to make sure that training does not fail.

Failure costs far too much, and not all of those costs are instantly visible.

An Abundance of Managers, But Too Few Leaders?

One of the questions I am most frequently asked is what are the key differences between a leader and a manager, and this is the best quote I have ever read because it succinctly answers the question:

There is a difference between leadership and management. Leadership is of the spirit management is of the mind. Managers are necessary, but leaders are essential. We must find managers who are not only skilled organizers, but inspired and inspiring leaders.”Field Marshall Slim

I believe that you can buy someone’s physical presence, but you cannot buy loyalty, enthusiasm, or devotion – these you must earn.

Successful organizations have leaders who focus on the future rather than cling to the past. Leaders bring out the best in people. They spend time developing other people into leaders.

In my view, these are the qualities of a true leader:

- Leaders have a clear vision of what they are working towards. They don’t keep their vision a secret – they communicate it to their people.
- Leaders are consistent. They keep their principles and values at all times.
- Leaders can and will do what they expect of others. They are prepared to walk the talk.
- Leaders are not threatened by competence. They enjoy promoting people and are quick to give credit to those who have earned it.
- Leaders enjoy developing their people into leaders, not followers. They train people to take on more challenging tasks and responsibilities – they develop people’s confidence.
- Leaders don’t betray trust. They can treat confidential information professionally.
- Leaders are concerned about getting things done. They don’t get embroiled in political infighting, gossip and backstabbing. They encourage those around them to do likewise.
- Leaders confront issues as they arise. They do not procrastinate. If something needs fixing, they do it right away, even if it is uncomfortable – the longer things are left, the more difficult they become.
- Leaders let people know how they are doing. They reward and recognise performance that is above expectations and they help people identify ways of improving poor performance.
- Leaders are flexible. They welcome change. They do not stick to an old position simply because it is more comfortable.
- Leaders are adaptable. They see change as an opportunity rather than a threat.
- Leaders are human. They make mistakes. When they do so, they readily admit it.
- Leaders reflect on and learn from their mistakes. They see errors as a chance to improve their skills.
- Leaders enjoy challenge. They are prepared to take risks and encourage others to do likewise. If they fail, they treat the exercise as a learning experience.
- Leaders focus on the future, not the past. They anticipate trends and prepare for them. They develop a vision for their team and communicate it to them.
- Leaders are open to new ideas. They demonstrate their receptiveness by supporting change.
- Leaders treat staff as individuals. They give closer attention to those that need it and lots of space to those that deserve it.
- Leaders encourage and reward co-operation within and between teams.

Without managers the visions of leaders remain dreams. Leaders need managers to convert visions into realities. For continuous success, organizations need both managers and leaders; however, as most seem to be over-managed and under-led, they need to find ways of having both at the same time.

Perhaps the best way to handle this paradox is for managers to aim to be managers when viewed from above, leaders when viewed from below and to remember that the need for leadership grows as we move up the organization.

This is only one of the challenges that can make working life fun – don’t you think?

And you, are you working for a manager, or a genuine leader?

Selling is THE Factor in the Total Marketing Process

Business people, certainly here in the UK – and I have every reason to suspect that it is the same everywhere else - have devalued selling for far too long: In fact some unenlightened managers with a very narrow commercial band-width, have even convinced themselves that they would do better if they did not employ salespeople – after all good products sell themselves, don’t they? As a consequence, until very recently, salespeople have done everything possible to avoid calling themselves “Salesman”or a “Saleswoman”

When was the last time you were introduced to a professional salesperson who, when you asked what field they were in, said openly, honestly and with pride: “Oh, I sell”

No, rather most salespeople prefer to disguise their true job title behind euphemisms such as: “Sales Engineer,” “Business Development Manager,” “Account Executive,” “Technical Consultant” etc. But nowadays we have to accept that we all sell everyday – doctors, lawyers, estate agents, architects, politicians, teachers and accountants. The baby crying in the pram is selling to be picked up; the dog tugging at your trouser leg is selling to be taken out for a walk (unless he is someone else’s dog, in which case he is trying to bite you) – but you take my point.

In the commercial arena, the fact remains that anyone who is in business has to sell themselves and their products – and the so called “Captains of Industry” – Branson, Roddick, Marshall, Hanson, Gates, Dell and Co. are thought to be amongst the best salespeople in the world.

It therefore follows that the quality and success of our salespeople will ultimately determine the success of our business: Certainly the world has become more competitive and in order to survive and prosper we need to continually expand and develop the skill sets of our sales teams.

Sir John Harvey-Jones said “Most companies fail not in their attempts to be innovative or creative. In this country most of them fail because they undervalue the importance of professional selling”

Unfortunately, the task of selling never becomes any easier and as competition continues to intensify, sales people will face issues that can be extremely difficult to deal with e.g. decreased product uniqueness, increased competition within ˜safe” markets, longer sales cycles and shorter product life spans. Every organisation that intends to survive in a continually re-engineeringenvironment, must, in my view, respond to those realities.

In summary: Our commercial functions, particularly the sales team, represent our forward line, if they are not scoring regularly we cannot possibly achieve our overall commercial objectives i.e. nothing happens until somebody sells something and all that investment in costly accounting software, new office equipment, expensive IT systems etc. will count for nothing.

We can therefore say with complete confidence, that selling really is the key factor in the total marketing process.

Please Stop Feeding the Monkeys!

I thought I would start the week with something light – but nevertheless, significant.

I have been juggling a number of projects recently, and I also inherited a few monkeys, which is so unlike me as I am pretty assertive most of the time. It is always interesting to analyze one’s time-robbers on a regular basis to see if there is a pattern and if there is, take steps to deal with them.

Where do interruptions come from?

Boss - Who often has the power when it comes to setting priorities

Subordinates - The more accessible you are, the more they’ll use/abuse you.

Fellow workers - Interrupt for many reasons, from social to work related.

Clients and customers - These you can’t ignore.

Phone/Email - Sound familiar?

Dealing With Interruptions:
When you’re interrupted, ask yourself what’s more important, the interruption or what you’re working on?

You can try to keep interruptions short – “what do you want, why, when, etc.?”

You can also keep a log of who/what interrupts you - a pattern may emerge.

Additionally, you might consider the following, they work for me:
- Be assertive; learn to deal with “Have you got a minute?
- Invent deadlines
- Continue to look busy
- Stand up to interruptions
- Remove the chair in front of your desk
- Reduce eye contact
- Collect your papers, check your watch
- Go to them, this way you can leave any time
- Learn to say “no
- Plan a quiet hour

And Finally, Beware Of Monkeys:
Despite being a busy person, it is easy to get sucked into doing things for others. Often these tasks have nothing to do with your job (perhaps they interest you or you are flattered to be asked)

Each time we say, “yes” to these requests we collect another monkey, namely a problem that started with someone else (who is working for whom?)

Furthermore, monkeys eat into our discretionary time; the amount of time left after meeting the demands of boss and job.

Taking the monkey” often means that you are taking on a problem. Also, you are preventing others from taking the initiative and dealing with it themselves.

So, to handle monkeys:
- Deal with them as they happen (say “yes” you can help or “no” you cannot).
- Do not allow them to become too many to handle.
- Feed them face-to-face only or by phone (avoid memos or email).
- Feed them by appointment only; “Come and see me at …”
- Assign a next feeding time; “Try, and if you get a problem come back and see me”

FINAL TIP: Never say “Leave it with me”