I caught an entertaining programme on the radio which took a look at how Gordon Gekko’s famous quote (“Lunch is for wimps”) now seems to have become accepted policy for many office workers. Apparently 1 in 5 of us never eats lunch with only 1 in a 100 taking a full hour’s break. The programme took us on a nostalgic trip back to the days when that lunch hour was our own, when we would actually leave our desk to meet friends and colleagues in the pub.
We also heard from a historian who told us that Winston Churchill’s several courses with wine and brandy were viewed positively at the time, actually helping rather than hindering his leadership of the country.
Undoubtedly our working day has got busier as technology continues to drive a faster pace, making time even more precious. But business leaders and their sales people have yet to be replaced with machines: as human beings our body’s need for refuelling can’t have changed, nor for our eyes to take a rest away from a bright screen or for our brains to switch off for a short time from meetings and client demands.
If businesses are to be competitive as well as productive, their workforces need to perform to fullest potential – in which case surely lunch breaks should be encouraged to maintain concentration and engagement?
When a sales person – whether on the telephone or out on the road – is doing his/her job fully and properly, I would have thought they should feel the need for a lunch break. Proactive, professional selling is a demanding job requiring the seller to use listening, presentation, verbal and consultative skills. In other words to be firing on all 4 cylinders.
The hard working sales executive who can put work aside for thirty or forty-five minutes to refuel and get outside in some sunshine is bound to have a more productive afternoon than the one who spends an hour dropping breadcrumbs over their keyboard as they stare numbly at a database of prospects.
In a fast-paced sales operation where time literally is money, there are ways you can use lunchtimes as a ‘time maximiser’.
On the Road
If you haven’t done this before, why not accompany an external rep on calls one day? Make use of lunchtime (the company’s shout of course) as an opportunity to encourage as well as to analyse the morning’s successes and setbacks in some detail.
Make it Fun
An effective way of boosting rapport within your teams and between departments is to arrange occasional team building sessions with one or two group sales games. For ideas, there’s a good range of reasonably priced books to be found.
Invite sales people and sales support staff for a free exchange of ideas and solutions. Stimulate discussion through brain storms and mind maps.
If it’s dry and sunny outside, insist that all office staff leave the building for at least 20 minutes.
Is Anybody Swinging the Lead?
Conversely, this topic may have made you think about checking if anyone is taking their lunchtimes too seriously…
If you have a telesales or telemarketing team, set an earlier lunch break roster so they can make calls between 12.00 and 2.00 to maximise their chances of catching those elusive prospects.