If the executive chairman of Google can do it, so can you.

As executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt is often invited to deliver commencement speeches at college graduations. What’s the one surprising piece of advice this tech guru always shares? Turn off the technology.

In May 2009, he told the graduating class of the University of Pennsylvania:

Turn off your computer [and] your phone, and discover all that is human around us. Nothing beats holding the hand of your grandchild as he walks his first steps.

Last year, he told graduates at Boston University:

Remember to take at least one hour a day and turn that thing off. Do the math, 1/24th. Go dark. Shut it down. Learn where the OFF button is. Take your eyes off the screen, and look into the eyes of the person you love. Have a conversation—a real conversation—with the friends who make you think, with the family who makes you laugh.

I couldn’t agree more! In fact, I challenge my clients and readers to do the same thing. After all, there is nothing more important for salespeople than relationships, and if you can’t prioritize people over technology for one hour a day, you’re in the wrong field.

Stop Typing

Technology provides all sorts of ways to connect with clients, prospects, and referral sources. But none is as impactful, truthful, or engaging as a real, live, face-to-face conversation.

The problem is that we are getting so comfortable hiding behind the technology curtain that many of us are forgetting how to have real conversations. Technology dependence has begun to shift our values and our beliefs away from what really makes us human. We believe technology is a panacea. We want to automate everything (almost). We think that the more we automate selling, the better, easier, and more effective our jobs will be. But we couldn’t be more wrong.

Start Talking

People do business with people, not with technology. We still buy from people and companies we know, like, and trust. Old news? Yes. Still true? You bet.

At the end of the day, you are the ultimate sales technology. Nothing beats a personal conversation. So turn off your devices and actually talk to your sales prospects and clients. Step out from behind the technology curtain and discover the real world; it’s waiting for you.

For more on how to leverage the personal connection for sales success, get your copy of Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal—now available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. Or get the digital version for your Kindle or Nook.

Comment Here

What’s holding you back from picking up the phone? What will you actually miss if and when you turn off the digital devices in your life? (Hint: Probably less than you think.)