It may seem contrary to Sandy’s best advice, but “Challengers” actually get higher marks than “Relationship Builders” when it comes to making sales. Sandy explains why, and how being a Challenger when it comes to making recommendations is actually the best way to serve your clients.
I often talk with clients and in workshops about the “success formula” Napoleon Hill shares in his 1935 classic, Think and Grow Rich:
(1) Set a clear goal. What do you want to accomplish?
(2) Develop a detailed plan to reach that goal. Define exactly what actions you will need to take
(3) Take immediate (and, as Tony Robbins would say, “massive”) action on that plan, and
(4) Persist until you reach the goal
I use Edison’s invention of the light bulb as an example:
Edison’s clear goal was to create a lamp that operated safely and inexpensively using electricity as its power source, replacing gas and kerosene lamps in buildings and on streets.
His detailed plan was extraordinarily simple: test materials and combinations of materials until he found something that would not melt, burn or explode and would, instead , safely and inexpensively cast off light whenever and for however long someone wanted it.
His immediate action was to begin testing materials by running an electric current through them and he persisted in that action by continuing to test materials day in and day out for what turned out to be thirteen months (and not 6 weeks, as he had projected).
In his book, Straight Line Leadership, Dusan Djukich adds two important components to the formula: (1) deciding if you are willing to pay the price, and (2) monitoring your actions, making corrections as needed.
The price Djukich is referring to is the willingness to take the specific actions and to persist until you reach the goal. In other words, if it isn’t working, are you willing to keep at it, monitor it and make adjustments until you get it to work, or do you know at the outset that if you run into difficulties, you will stop.
With few exceptions, almost all of the failed projects and initiatives the CEOs and professionals I work with can point to failed for a simple reason: When the specific actions required became too difficult, they allowed the project to stop.
The remedy for this is simple: STOP STOPPING. Starting a project and stopping is not the result of a lack of conviction or desire, or of willpower or courage. It’s a habit—a choice.
If the history of your business is littered with projects and initiatives that didn’t pan out, it isn’t because they were not good projects. It’s the result of either a lack of willingness to pay the price, or the choice to stop when it became too difficult or too expensive.
If you’re taking action on an important goal and you’re 100% committed to it, choose a new habit…STOP STOPPING.
Oh…and keep REACHING...
“I found a new way to talk with clients about referring me,” Ryan, a financial advisor, once told me excitedly on the phone. “I use a diagram! I’ll show it to you.”
Ryan emailed me a little while later with this:
Of course, I was interested, and I called him back right away to have him explain how it worked.
“First, I draw a circle in the center of a yellow pad, where you see the ‘Joe W’, representing the client,” he started.
“Then,” he continued, “I draw circles surrounding the first circle for people they’ve already referred to me. I thank them for the ones that worked out and tell them that these referrals are happy; I also point out the ones that didn’t work out, explaining how it just wasn’t right for whatever reason.”
“Finally,” Ryan exclaimed, “I ask them who’s missing from the chart! I say, ‘Who haven’t we talked about yet?’”
Ryan told me that the client at the center of this drawing, Joe, looked at the chart and said to him, “I wonder why we never talked about my niece, Barbara, and her husband.” He gestured to the open circles on the page. “Add Barbara in there.”
Ryan was very proud of his piece of “referral technology”—and so was I! I went on to suggest to him that any time a client or prospective client volunteers information, his next response should be a magical question—either “who else?” or “what else?” Once Joe volunteered Barbara, for instance, a “who else” could identify another person for Joe and Ryan to discuss, and with whom Ryan could go on to arrange an appointment. Asking “who else?” again might have brought to light a third—and then even a fourth—potential client for Ryan.
Most professionals are terrified of the referral conversation and they either avoid it entirely or approach it so awkwardly that it doesn’t end up working for them at all.
Tim, one of my current clients, told me earlier this week that he was uncomfortable “switching” from being a professional to asking for referrals. The goal, I told him, is to be a professional while asking for referrals. There shouldn’t be a difference. If you’re helping someone by providing a service, why not offer the same service to someone else in his or her life who might also really need your help?
If you have your own method of talking about introductions or referrals that works for you, please share it with me, and with the other professionals in your life! If referrals aren’t yet working for you, contact me now, and I’ll let you in on a few of the ideas that have worked for me and countless others in my network of clients and colleagues. No matter what strategy you implement, one technique is certain: ALWAYS be sure to keep REACHING…
Sandy explains how “I would do it if only I had the confidence” is a backwards concept, and how to get the confidence to get things done.
Do you suffer from it, too?
“It feels like my hard work has paid off, but at the same time, I still have the Impostor, you know, Syndrome,” Davis said. “I still feel like I’m going to wake up and everybody’s going to see me for the hack I am.”
Several years ago, during a teleconference where motivational author Josh Hinds had interviewed me about my work around fear and limiting beliefs, listeners got to hear one attendee, Matt (not his real name), tell us that he was about to receive an acceptance of his offer to work with a big, new client.
“How do I deal with the feeling that I may have oversold them,” he asked, “—that I’m not really capable of delivering what I promised?”
“My wife calls what I’m going through ‘imposter syndrome’,” Matt continued, “but whatever you call it, it is really making me feel like a fraud, and as though that at some point, they’re going to figure it out.”
Imposter Syndrome describes that collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in the face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is the feeling that you are not really competent; that you are only posing as someone who is competent. It often hits professionals at the worst time—when they are negotiating an exceptionally large contract.
Josh and I both came to Matt’s aid. I pointed out that Matt should tell himself that it is okay to have this fear.
“Instead of trying to fight it,” I recommended, “acknowledge that it’s there—that it’s okay to be afraid—and take steps to do what you need to do to get rid of it. Be the expert you told them that you are.”
I explained to Matt that the first step anyone takes in order to become an expert at something is to declare that he or she is an expert. Then, he or she needs to “walk the talk”.
“Get whatever training, materials, and books you need to make what you told them true,” I advised him.
Josh and I both also pointed out that Matt needs to trust his clients’ gut opinion of him. “Believe that they have thoroughly considered your credentials and background,” we coached. “If they have more faith in you than you do,” we told him, “Then you need to borrow theirs.”
Like Viola Davis, many of us have a gap between what our abilities are and what we perceive that they are. While it sometimes works the other way, usually our abilities are greater than our perception of them. If you’re feeling the symptoms of Imposter Syndrome, more often than not, your inner critic is undervaluing you.
If the feedback you’re getting is overwhelmingly positive, trust in your clients’ perception of you! If you’re still afraid, acknowledge the fear, and contact me for help getting over it. Move into your best self in spite of the syndrome, and keep REACHING…
Desire, belief, and willingness can get you anywhere you want to go, even in the unlikeliest fourth quarter. In light of the unprecedented comeback in Super Bowl 51, Sandy explains the three essential elements you need to succeed.
Last year, I did not take my own advice, and I lost my temper with a vendor. I suggested that a price was too high and the vendor, Erica, went ballistic in her email response, saying, essentially, “How dare you question my price after working with me in the past?”
My response was less than kind, and it ended our relationship abruptly.
I know, I know. I would counsel my clients not to lose it, but I did. That ended our relationship…Until December. Two weeks before Christmas, Erica called me and apologized for her part in our little mishap. I accepted her apology and gave her my own.
That incident made my holiday a better one.
Erica’s call somehow reminded me of cleaning out an attic. It’s unpleasant, dusty work, but when it’s done, you feel as if you have more room to grow–more space to grow into.
Clean out your attic now. Start this New Year by forgiving some of the people who wronged you last year–not to make you a better person (although it might do that); not to bring you closer to heaven (although it might do that); not for the person who wronged you–but to get rid of the “stuff” you don’t need that may be keeping you from growing.
To be truly focused on what we want to accomplish, we need to let go of the junk in our attics–carrying around anger and hurt undoubtedly clutters our minds, working against us.
So, follow Erica’s example, not mine. Call someone to apologize for your part in a misunderstanding. Call someone who knows you’re angry or upset about something they did or said. Call someone who doesn’t even know why you stopped calling him or her, and tell them it’s okay.
Then, get back to pursuing your dreams.
In the meantime, keep REACHING…
Plans for 2017? Resolve to *never* make an empty resolution again! By 2018, you’ll be a finisher.
If you’re a financial or insurance professional, join my complimentary Business Planning Webinar this week at https://sandyschussel.com/2017, and download the Business Planning Template I’m giving away when you register.
In college, my roommate Jack announced his big New Year’s Resolution—to finally stop smoking. He was a long distance runner and was seeing the toll his habit was taking on his performance.
By mid-January, however, it was clear that his resolution was was not to stop smoking cigarettes, it was to stop buying them. Every time he felt the urge to smoke, he asked to “borrow” a cigarette from one of my other roommates. By February, his resolution was forgotten.
Resolutions don’t work. Think about the thousands of people who sign up every year with a local health club, resolving to go a minimum of three times a week for the year to finally get in shape. The owners and managers of those clubs love this time of year because they know that by February, most of those people will have stopped coming on a regular basis, but they’ll have to continue to pay on their contracts until year’s end.
As you’re reading this, financial and insurance professionals everywhere are making 2017 New Year’s Resolutions to make more calls, or to make and keep more appointments—to make more sales. But by the end of January, those resolutions will most likely have been forgotten as well, and these professionals will be back to the habits of 2016.
This year, create a real, detailed, working Business Plan.
The difference is in the details. Resolutions fail because they are the expression of a wish—something you want to try to accomplish. They don’t include details, planning, an analysis of where you are and what needs to change, smaller process goals and periodic milestones. These are things that go into a Business Plan.
If you want to move from the incremental growth of 2016 (if you had any growth) to exponential growth in 2017, a resolution won’t cut it—but a written, detailed, working Business Plan will give you a fighting chance. I’m not talking here about the kind of business plan that someone prepares for investors, I’m talking about something that will make 2017 your best year ever.
Here’s what you need to do to create a Business Plan:
1. Determine what your Mission for the year will be. What’s your ultimate goal? How many new applications do you want to open? How much more do you want to add to assets under management? How much more money do you want to earn? How many people do you want to help so that they can retire comfortably when they’re ready? What’s your “burning desire”—as Napoleon Hill called it—for 2017.
2. Identify your Sales and Personal Goals. What are the smaller goals that fit into that Mission? Do you need to get healthier to improve your available energy to meet the Mission? What Sales Goals will be key performance indicators?
3. Analyze what’s working for you, what isn’t. In the business world, this is called the SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. What are you good at that you can leverage, and what opportunities are out there that you can take advantage of? What will hold you back—internally, and in the world around you? You’ll need to address all of these.
4. Choose the client you will build your Plan around. Your ideal, target client should be clearly defined before designing your Plan around this prototype.
5. List and schedule the activities that will get you there. Starting with the end in mind, figure out what needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly, to accomplish your Mission by the end of the year.
6. Set Milestones. Where should you be at the end of every month? Know where you are now and adjust what you need to adjust to get where you’re trying to go at each checkpoint.
7. Have someone other than you hold you accountable to stick to the Plan. Most advisors—most people—aren’t sufficiently disciplined to hold themselves accountable. Give someone a copy of your Plan and report your progress to him or her, both when you’re on track, and when you’re not.
For a limited time, I’m offering a zero-cost webinar training: CREATE THE ULTIMATE 2017 BUSINESS PLAN. When you register, you can download the Business Plan template that we’ll be talking about. If you want 2017 to be exponentially better than 2016, join me.
And always, keep REACHING…
Do you pursue clients, or do you attract them?
While both methods of finding new business work to some degree, finding the right prospects through attraction is a lot more fun and–for professionals and entrepreneurs who provide individualized service to their clients–it’s usually more effective than finding them by pursuit.
Attraction methods involve drawing prospective clients to you: People who relate to you, people who have an interest in what you have to offer, people who share your values and beliefs, and people who believe…in you. If you do it right, the people you attract are your ideal prospects. It’s a natural, comfortable, professional, and self-perpetuating process.
Pursuing clients, on the other hand, means spending a great deal of time and money on efforts such as social media advertising, e-blasts, or casting a huge, expensive fishing net of direct mailings to catch the next great client. One of the problems associated with this method is that people are so inundated with marketing messages that repeated mailings and advertising are necessary before someone will actually respond. This means more and more expense.
When the growth of your business relies on pursuing prospects, rather than on attracting them, the effort to find new prospects through these same methods is continual. If you stop the pursuit, the flow of prospects stops, too.
Attraction, on the other hand, has just two self-sustaining components:
~Being “attractive,” and
~Giving your target clients an opportunity to connect with you.
Being attractive. By being attractive, I don’t mean having an attractive appearance, although you do need to have a professional appearance. An easy way to understand this is to ask what kind of people you are attracted to–in the business sense. Who do you enjoy being around and working with? What character/personality traits do they have? What is it about them that attracts you?
Some traits are universally attractive: personal integrity, having a life purpose, and passion, for instance. People want to be around a person who is clear about who he or she is and what matters to him or her. Such a person is often viewed as a leader.
If you want to be attractive in business, become clear about what matters to you, and then work to develop a clean and concise way to let others know what that is.
Giving your target clients an opportunity to connect with you. There are a number of ways to give others an opportunity to be with you. Most of these involve getting out of your office and interacting with them. That means going where your prospective clients can be found, talking to them, and letting them know what you are all about—not just as a professional or business owner, but as a person.
Attraction methods include serving your clients on a level that makes them want to tell others about you, and learning to ask them to connect you with more people like them. It also includes speaking and writing about what you do.
By sharing about yourself, you allow others to understand who you are. Once people see who you are, you will attract the ones who relate best to you.