If you are thinking about a career in sales, you may want to take a look at your current desk or work space. Does it have a place for everything with everything in its place? Do you have neatly stacked piles of files, phone messages, sales orders and prospect profiles? Or does it look like a small tsunami just ran through your office and piled every piece of paper on your desk? Is it difficult to see any part of desk surface at all?
Sales is a process, and you need to have some sort of organization in order to follow that process from the beginning to the end. You’ll need information, sales orders, and sales materials along the way. You may say you’ve got everything in your phone or in an email electronically. Well, that’s great, but your electronic filing system is only as good as your basic organizational skills.
Your messy or neat desk speaks volumes about your work habits, and some would say, your ability to be successful. If your desk is messy, you’ve got some pretty good (impressive even) company. A Forbes article explored the messy vs. neat desk issue, pointing out that such brilliant thinkers like Einstein and William F. Buckley had messy desks and offices.
Messy deskers are creative idea machines, as some Minnesota researchers found out. Sometimes it’s the juxtaposition of an old coffee cup over a potato chip bag and a couple of half-cracked pistachios that spark an idea for a new architectural design, haute couture, or a video game. Order is great for finding things and going from point A to point B with no problem, but sometimes a little chaos can send your mind along a creative detour to a whole new destination.
A messy desk or a table full of unrelated objects, toys and craft items can be just the thing to jar a lot of neatnicks out of their right angles and alphabetized file drawers. A study from researchers at the University of Minnesota showed that neat, orderly people tend to follow the rules and avoid taking risks. So much for taking the safe road and staying within the lines. Those with messy desks were just the opposite. The researchers found a person’s preference can influence his generosity and food choices. Groups were asked to perform a series of tasks in a messy room or a neat room. When the tasks were done, those in the neat room chose an apple over chocolate bar for a snack and were more likely to donate to a charity. The messy group preferred the apple and kept their wallets closed.
Your natural tendency toward messy or neat can have an effect on your sales ability and your reputation as a professional. A person with a messy office may have a messy car, spots on his jacket or be unable to find a pen or business card when he needs it. It has to do with being organized enough to get the job done. You can hide your messy office just so far. Would you feel comfortable taking your car for a business lunch? Do you have an impressive pen available (without rummaging through a messy handbag or briefcase) to take notes, write down a phone number or email address? Straighten up your act (and office) and you’ll find new creativity and the phone number for your next hot prospect.
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