Whose attention span is longer-yours or the person you’re talking to? Well, if you’re talking to a prospect about business matters, your attention span is probably considerably longer. With the endless amount of distractions, getting someone’s attention today is difficult. The danger is that this attention issue may drastically harm your ability to attract a prospect and ultimately close a sale.

Attention span is defined as the amount of time that a person can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted or bored. The attention span nowadays is shorter than ever-some experts say it’s 17 seconds. Let’s time it. If you count to 17 right now, you have reached the amount of time you have to make an impression with what you have to say.

Before you go to the next business function or go to a meeting where you want to make a good impression, count to 17. And remind yourself that this is all the time you may have. First impression? Lasting impression? Your 17 seconds may define you. And do you know when it is that people are engaged, paying attention and not bored? When they are talking?

Actually, listening is your best shot to make a real impression-as counterintuitive as that may sound. So instead of coming up with great things to say about you, try coming up with engaging questions that will keep prospects talking…and interested.

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com.