Listen Up! Where is your attention?

Listen Up! Where is your attention?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

“Pay attention!”

Ever hear those words when you were growing up? Hundreds of times, right? And you probably thought you were being scolded. Actually, when you were told to “pay attention,” you were getting one of life’s most valuable lessons.

Now you’re grown up, and I bet you still haven’t learned that lesson. Why? Because you’re probably more focused on yourself than you are on the world around you. And when you’re focused on yourself-how you look, what you’re wearing, and what other people think of you-you are diverting your “focus energy” away from your success.

When you’re focused, you have an intense purpose. But when you waste that focus on yourself, you’ll miss the opportunities around you and stay “out of focus.”

Now, people will tell you TO focus or to BE more focused, but very few will tell you HOW to focus. So, let me share this little secret with you. The easiest way to “be focused” is to “be aware.” Be aware of what is around you-and be aware of who is around you. Sounds simple, but it means you have to change selfish and insecure to open-minded and self-confident. Let me explain.

“Antennas up” at all times is what my mentor and friend Earl Pertnoy has preached for more than 25 years. It doesn’t matter where you are. You could be in a bathroom, on line at the airport, in a hotel lobby, at a car wash, in an elevator, or at a restaurant. All are ripe for making connections if you’re alert. And if you follow Earl’s advice like I do, you’ll get the sales lead or the deal you were never expecting.

“Antennas up” philosophy starts with being aware of your immediate surroundings. If you’re looking to be a master seller, you must understand and capitalize on where you are, whom you meet, and what you say.

If you’re at an event, your job is to keep your “antennas up” until you meet the key players. You do whatever it takes. You may have to ask someone, “Where’s the big cheese?” You may have to read every nametag in the room. You may have to stay until you’re the only person left. You may even have to stand and wait until the conversation the “big cheese” is having with someone else is finished.

But if your antennas are in a bottle of beer or with your friends or looking for more food, they’re pointed in the wrong direction. So besides losing, you’ll lose to someone whose antennas are pointed in the right direction.


Take Note: This story, which took place in the men’s room at LaGuardia Airport , is not meant to offend, but to make a point.

After getting off the plane at LaGuardia, I had to use the facility. Like all men’s rooms, this one was equipped with urinals. Now, when you visit the men’s room, you adhere to this unwritten rule: You don’t talk. But I happened to glace to my left and saw the actor Hal Linden, who played Barney Miller on the TV series, and said as we stood over our urinals, “The great equalizer of men.” Linden started to howl and almost wet his suede shoes.

I said, “Goin’ into the city?”

He said, “Yep.”

I said, “Wanna split a cab?”

He said, “Sure.”

And we drove into the city through the Astoria section of Queens where “Archie Bunker” lived and where “Barney Miller’s” police station was located. It was a great ride, and when we got to the city, he paid the cab fare.

Guess what? My antennas were up. I had the guts to make the exchange, and I won. Did I win big? No, but I had fun. In the game of “antennas up,” it’s not always about winning big. It’s about having a good time, and it’s about practice. I never fail to keep my antennas up, and I never fail to capitalize on an opportunity when it occurs. Neither should you.

Here’s another story. Recently, I was flying from Buffalo to Dallas . As usual, my antennas were up, especially since I was sitting next to Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. We chatted a bit, but I certainly didn’t want to mention the word “Super Bowl.” So I began to tell him that I was an author and a speaker, and that I had been on the same program with him at a couple of events, and that I had a couple of his autographed footballs. Kelly smiled.

Then I said, “As a noted speaker and author, you probably want my autograph.” So I autographed my boarding card and handed it to him.

As Kelly sat there dumbfounded, I said, “I wouldn’t mind if you autographed your boarding pass and gave it to me.” He laughed, autographed his boarding pass, and handed back both his boarding pass and mine. Because my antennas were up, I talked to Jim Kelly, got his autograph, and as a bonus-had lots of fun.

It’s important for you to understand that selling yourself is not about tactics. Selling is not about techniques. Selling is about focusing and engaging the person you are focused on in a creative verbal exchange. And the only way to master focus is to keep your antennas up.

Are your antennas up?

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