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Stop Being a Victim!

Five years ago, Kevin started his own “life coaching” practice and built it up to the point where he was earning about $85,000 a year.  Struggling coaches all around him were begging him to come speak to their groups about how he had developed his business.  In their eyes, he was a hero.

Today, Kevin is still earning around $85K annually, but he’s having to work much harder to reach that figure than he did back then.

“People aren’t interested in good service anymore,” he lamented to me last month.  “In this climate, all they care about is how much it costs!  And there’s just too much competition out there now.”

Kevin is a victim of AD— “Arrested Development” —a common problem for many professionals and business owners who have reached a plateau in the growth of their businesses.  Like “Analysis Paralysis“, AD gets people stuck where they are: in a land of “ifs” and “buts”.  Getting new clients, and holding on to the ones you already have, should get easier over time, not harder.  If this isn’t the case for us for whatever reason, we often look for external causes, as Kevin has—but these are really just excuses.

The key here is that as long as Kevin is making excuses, he will remain a Victim, rather than an Owner—and in order to overcome AD, he needs to occur to himself as an Action Hero in the story of his career, not as a victim of his circumstances.

The business landscape is always changing, so you can’t blame the current economy or sales environment if you’re not getting the results you want.  People are bombarded with new ideas and new things to try every day.  Your competition is working at keeping up with—or maybe even creating—those changes.  It’s an unwavering reality of business that you need to be doing the same thing.

Much of what you have to do to keep your business or practice afloat is “prospect”—deal with getting potential clients on board.  The professional services you actually provide must often become second to accomplishing this feat.  As such, the stance you take on your work needs to be: “How can I offer my services in a way that might get me more or better clients, and help me to retain the ones I have and like already?”  No matter what is happening around you, you need to take charge of—and responsibility for—the state of your affairs.

If you ARE a victim of “AD”, and can’t seem to help yourself, there is hope.  Don’t wait until your Arrested Development results in your burnout.  Reach out to me for help with taking the reins of your career, rain or shine.  In the meantime, just keep REACHING…

Burn Your Boats…

When ancient Greek warriors landed on a shore to conquer an island, their Generals motivated them in a powerful way: They ordered the boats that brought them to the island to be burned, so that there would be no way to retreat.

Burning your boats is a good way to motivate yourself to do the important things you need to do that you would otherwise continue to put off.  Here are a few boat-burning ideas:

  • If you’ve been putting off scheduling a seminar to attract new clients, pick a date, book a location, and put a deposit down on the space.
  • If you’ve been thinking about seeing a client in another state, book the trip.
  • Make five lunch reservations for two over the next five weeks.  Then, find five top clients to take to lunch.  If you really want to challenge yourself, make those reservations for three and ask your clients to bring someone they know who might be able to use your help.
  • Set a substantial 90-day goal for yourself, with a promise that if you meet that goal, you’ll take a wonderful vacation.  Now, book that vacation for yourself and your spouse with a nonrefundable deposit.
  • Set a deadline for something you’ve been putting off, and promise it to your client on that date to give the deadline “teeth”.

I publish an article for this Blog and E-letter every week.  Although it’s certainly not my utmost priority, I have established the deadline for its publication to be Thursday mornings.  I have also convinced myself that if it doesn’t come out on a Thursday morning, you’ll notice, and my credibility will be destroyed.

Hopefully, this isn’t true, and I do have to be flexible to the other obligations that arise in my practice.  But, if my commitment is strong enough, the possibility of getting my articles to you over the weekend, instead—or of taking a week off—is a boat I have completely burned.

Burning your boats will keep you motivated.  Don’t let yourself fall back from your plans and goals.  Pull the safety net out from under you, and commit to the results of your actions, before you even take them.

Contact me for help with burning your boats and winning your battles.  Even if I’m drafting next week’s article, I’ll make the time, so long as YOU take the time to keep REACHING…

End “Analysis Paralysis”

I often start a seminar by asking for a show of hands from professionals and entrepreneurs who have enough quality clients—they don’t need any more.  Usually, one or two people raise their hands.  If there are a hundred people in the room, however, that means that ninety-eight percent of them do not have enough clients (or enough good ones).

I usually follow this first question with another: Why not?  Why don’t they have the clients they want?  Almost immediately after that, the discussion on this issue gets lively.  The excuses run wild:

“I’m too busy to spend time finding new clients,” one proclaims.
“I have no way of getting my message out—nothing works,” declares another.
“Nobody seems to need my services,” another insists.

Finally, a few speak up and admit the real reasons we often don’t have the clients (or jobs) we really want:

  • We don’t know what to do to get beyond the success we’ve already had,
  • We do know what to do, but we’re *afraid* to do it, or
  • We haven’t chosen to commit, due to one or more of the 3 Conditions I discussed in last week’s article.

This week, I’d like to spend a few minutes on the second bullet—the fear issue.

You know you need to pick up the telephone and call people, or businesses, that might need your services, but you have:

(1) Fear of being rejected, or
(2) Fear of being embarrassed—of making a fool of yourself.

You’re too paralyzed with fear to make those calls, so you find “important” paperwork to do, rather than picking up the phone.

These are just two of the “Seven Paralyzing Fears” I discuss in The High Diving Board: How to Overcome Your Fears and Live Your Dreams.

The other Paralyzing Fears I explain there (in a different order) are:

(3) Fear of failing
(4) Fear of making the wrong decision
(5) Fear of being unworthy
(6) Fear of not being ready/capable
(7) Fear of success

Maybe we need to prepare a presentation and we’re so paralyzed with fear (of Failing, or of Success) that we go into “analysis paralysis”—doing endless research, but not actually getting anything done.

Regardless of the particular paralyzing fear that is keeping you from doing what you need to do, if you follow the Ten-Step Program in The High Diving Board, you can get what you want. If you do, you’ll eventually come to “Step Eight”.

Step Eight requires you to take one small action—any action—in the direction of what you want.  Put a list of your most-likely prospects together and gather all of the information you will need in front of you to make your calls.  Just do that.  Don’t actually make any calls yet, but make the first move.  Or, pick a stopping point in your research, at which you’ll effectively be ready to draft that presentation—but don’t worry about drafting it yet.

An accountant client recently revealed to me that he had a secret desire to do something really creative—he wanted to become a stand-up comedian!  He believed he had a knack for comedy, and I have to admit that on our calls, he had me in stitches.  But when I challenged him to schedule time to try his routine at a comedy club, he refused—he was too paralyzed to go out and do it.

Instead, I got him to agree to enroll in a stand-up class offered through a local continuing education program.  That small step got him out of his head and into the game, and started him down the road to realizing a vision he had spent years denying himself.

Will he ever actually do his routine in a club?  I believe that he will at some point.  (I’m not sure he realizes yet that one of the requirements of the class is to spend five minutes up on stage with your material…)

Will you actually pick up the phone and call those prospective clients you’ve been afraid to call? Start thinking about it, but plan a time to stop.  Then, break your analysis paralysis with one small, real step.  Start brainstorming names?  Write yourself a loose script, or create a spreadsheet?  Block out some time in tomorrow morning’s schedule?  Take that one step, whatever it is, and then, let yourself stop again.  Treat every step along the way like this, and before you know it, you’ll be in motion.

But don’t wait.  Try Step Eight now, even if all you do is contact me for help.  Start moving in the direction of your dreams, and keep REACHING…

“…And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance!  I Hope You Dance.”
Lee Ann Womack

I’m going to admit something to you now that not every coach will admit: Sometimes, coaching doesn’t work.

The professionals I work with usually seek me out to deal with one of two major roadblocks:

  • They don’t know what to do to get beyond the success they’ve already had, or
  • They do know what to do, but they’re *afraid* to do it.

The first of these hurdles requires special training.  The second is clearly a coachable issue.  But both can be resolved much more simply than a lack of commitment.  If there is no true commitment, coaching won’t help, no matter how excellent a given coach may be.

Commitment stumbling blocks tend to arise under the following three conditions:

1. Not wanting it badly enough.  To achieve anything of great significance, you need to possess a burning desire to make it happen.

Now and then, a client will consult me to help him grow his business or practice, only to quit after a month or two, just as we are beginning to make real progress.  In a case like this, the client tends to agree that coaching has been helping, but then openly confesses his/her lack of drive, saying, “Perhaps I just didn’t want it badly enough”.  Simply wanting something to happen isn’t enough.  Wanting it intenselyhaving a “burning desire” for itis a prerequisite for success.

2. Not believing it is possible for you to have it.  You can want something intensely, but if you don’t truly believe it is possible to have, you won’t get it.  Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, explained it succinctly:

“If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t—you’re right.”

3. Not being willing to persist.  If what you wanted out of your life or career was the prize at the end of a dance marathon, would you be the last one dancing?  Or would you be exhausted by the seemingly-endless music, and choose to “sit it out”?

“I’ve tried doing seminars,” blurted Larry during one of my workshops, while we were on the topic of useful marketing tools, “but they just don’t work for my kind of business.”

“How many seminars have you done?” I asked him.

“Three,” he replied.

I got Larry to tell me that he hadn’t spent a lot of money on any of them—not even on advertising beforehand—and that, nonetheless, a few people had showed up to each one and at least one person had asked him for a quote afterwards.  So, I persisted:

“What if you believed that seminars did work and you did twenty of them to get your business going?”

“It wouldn’t do any good,” he responded definitively.

“Well, how can you know that from the brief experience you’ve had with them?” I pressed.

Larry started to say that he ‘just knew’, but then, he caught himself.

“I guess I just didn’t believe they would work, so I stopped doing them,” he admitted.

“There’s more to it than just ‘not believing’,” I coached.  “You had only just gotten started, and you stopped dancing.

Often, what you want is harder for you to achieve than you want it to be.  In my chapter of Success and Happiness, I explain how if you want to be a “rainmaker”, you must continue to “rain dance”…until it rains.

For some sound advice on having the *persistence* to overcome your roadblocks and get what you wantsome great choreographycontact me.  Choose to dance, and then keep REACHING…

Um…Beware of Verbal Pauses!

Actually, the reason I chose this subject is, well, actually, the work I do is, actually, helping successful people get more of what they want and, actually, most of my clients are professionals and, uh, entrepreneurs who are actually trying to get, ahh, more clients and, um, grow their businesses or practices, and, like, if they’re not in a professional practice or, ah, a business, uhm, I can help them, and even then, uh, do better, at their, um, careers, and, um, their professional relationships…

OK, so no one really writes like that.  Yet, every day, I listen to professionals talk like that, in conversations that sound just like what I have written above.

Recently, I facilitated a sales coaching workshop for professionals, during which I sent Peter, a fairly successful financial advisor, into another room to make a “prospecting” call to someone else in the group.  We were all able to hear Peter’s side of the conversation on speakerphone.

He rang, and after asking for the “prospect” (who I appointed from the lot right after he had left the room), Peter began to explain why he was calling:

Actually, the reason I’m calling you today is, well, actually, the work I do is…

And so the conversation continued, punctuated throughout with Peter’s version of  the ”um”: “actually“.

Peter was unaware that I was recording the call.  When he returned to the room, I suggested to him that perhaps there were too many verbal pauses in his conversation.

Verbal pauses?” he asked defensively.  ”What do you mean?

Did you ever notice,” I responded, “how often you use the word ‘actually’?

I don’t say ‘actually’ a LOT,” he insisted.

The other workshop participants chuckled warmly.  When I played back the recording, we all watched him gasp.

How come my associates never pointed that out to me?!?” he asked when the recording had finally finished.

It’s easy for someone who works with you every day to tune out small things like this,” I explained.  Having been gentle enough to call this a “small thing”, I turned to the group and asked them whether it really mattered that there were so many verbal pauses in Peter’s conversation.  After all, I told them, he is already making a good living in his profession.

I didn’t really understand why until you pointed it out,” said one, “but I didn’t feel as though he was being very effective.  Listening to it a second time, I could see I was being distracted by all the verbal pauses.

It made him sound a lot less sure of himself than I think he is,” commented another member of our group.

Yeah,” chimed in a third, “It made him sound less confident—like he wasn’t all that experienced or successful.

Do you think,” I asked them, “that nerves (or fear) might be driving all of those verbal pauses?

Actually…“ began another member, who then stopped to accept the laughter that erupted.

Yes,” she began again, and continued the discussion that ended our session that day.  We talked about how different fears—not being certain about what to say and how to say it, and being afraid of getting shut down, to name just two—contribute to our need to use those pauses in our prospecting conversations.

What if you recorded a few of your calls or meetings with potential clients?  If you don’t have a recording device of some kind, you can also get a friend or colleague to act out sales conversations with you, asking him or her to point out verbal pauses and other distracting things you may do when you’re in the midst of your work.

Better still, let me help you become as good at talking with potential or current clients as you possibly can be.  Stop pausing—keep practicing, and keep REACHING…

Too Bad; NOW You’re A CLIENT!

Recently, I was reminded of an old allegory about a man who dies and goes to Heaven.  Finding the venue a little dull, he asks if he might be allowed to explore the “Other Place“, and is permitted to go there for a brief visit.

Upon his arrival down below, the Devil shows him a beautiful cavern filled with soft light and soothing music, incredible food, and all kinds of pleasures, making it almost impossible for the man to now choose to spend eternity anywhere else.

Upon his return up above, and after thinking it over thoroughly, the man asks permission to relocate to the Devil’s delightful den for all eternity.  Although his request is granted, the man is warned that the decision is final, and once gone this time, he can never come back to Heaven.  Nonetheless, having seen what it is like beneath, the man feels sure of his choice.

But once the pearly gates have been closed behind him, the man is shocked to find that his chosen homestead is unbearably hot.  The soft lighting that the Devil showed him earlier has been replaced by harsh, searing flames.  The sumptuous food before him previously has been replaced by inedible, unspeakable things, and there is terrible pain in place of all the pleasures.

“I don’t understand,” the man yells to his host.  “Yesterday, you showed me something wonderful, and today, it’s THIS???”

“Yesterday, you were a prospect,” replies the Devil. “Today, you are a client.”

Last year, I hired someone to assist me with a project.  I’ll call her Sarah.  My initial conversations with Sarah were enchanting.  She talked about really listening to me so she could understand and meet my needs.  She talked about weekly communication and working within budgetary and time constraints.  She sent me a detailed questionnaire to work on, asking me about my goals for the project and my preferences with regard to several matters, and the contract she drew up for our work together was both seriously professional and more personally warm and friendly.

I was happily hooked.  And then…
I became a client.

During the first two weeks, Sarah asked me twice to supply her with information I had already provided on her detailed questionnaire.  By week three, she gave no more weekly updates.  There were some occasional emails about a website access problem she encountered that I needed to fix, and a couple offering me some choices for the first phase of the project, but no word about how the project was actually progressing.

Near the end of the month, I received an emailed bill for over 20 total hours of work at the agreed-upon rate.  There were no details—no explanation of what had been done for 20 hours, or of the status of the project.  So, I asked for an itemized bill and some more specific communication.  A week later, I still hadn’t gotten a response.

At first, I was a prospect.  Now, I was in the Other Place

Maybe Sarah had been working hard on our project.  Maybe she had put in a lot more than 20 hours and had been kind enough to cut back the numbers for me. Without communication, however, I still felt I had fallen victim to a bait-and-switch.  Sarah was no “Devil”, but she had over-promised and under-delivered; she eventually confessed that she had blown it and agreed to tear up the bill and refund my deposit, so thankfully, I wasn’t locked in to an eternal disappointment.

I actually felt bad for Sarah.  For her—another mortal, well-meaning professional—this was an expensive lesson about communication.  When the news is good, share it.  When the news is bad, share that, too.  Maybe if she had explained to me the downfalls of our current situation, we could have avoided any anger and frustration on my part; we could have extended the deadlines, or perhaps, made arrangements to end the relationship sooner, parting without buyer’s-remorse and the requisite refund.

Maybe you don’t have the clients or work relationships you want because you haven’t been a good communicator.  If so, you may be giving others the impression that they’ve been fooled.  Contact me if you’d like to talk about how we might purify your reputation and assure those you work with of your best intentions.

In the meantime, aim upwards, and keep REACHING…


SERVE Your Clients, or SOMEONE ELSE WILL.

There was a salad restaurant near my old office that I used to frequent for lunch.  The owner, Frank, was a hard-working, service-oriented man.  His staff would mix the salads to order, putting in grilled chicken, or pasta, or whatever else you might want.  Customers were always greeted with warm smiles.

Frank eventually opened a second restaurant a few towns over and began to oversee it, so he left his son—a tall, intimidating, unhappy-seeming man—in charge of the salad place.  Frank’s son never looked like he wanted to be there, and although he was always as perfectly polite as anyone could be (in a robotic sort of way), it was easy to imagine that there was something unpleasant smoldering underneath.

There had always been a daily special, in which a specific salad was marked down a dollar or two.  On one particular day that I stopped in, the special involved mixed-greens with a scoop of tuna salad on top.

I was enjoying my own lunch when an elderly woman came to the counter and asked if she could just have the special with dry tuna “flakes”, one of the regular options, instead of the scoop of tuna salad, because she was allergic to mayonnaise.

Politely, Frank’s son said no.  The woman told him that she couldn’t afford a full-priced salad that day and tried to reason with him, suggesting that the tuna flakes actually cost him less, because there was no labor—or mayonaise—involved.  Untouched, Frank’s son turned her away.

I guess I couldn’t help myself.  I tentatively approached him at the counter.

“Do you mind if I ask you a question?” I began.  “I consult with businesses that are trying to grow and I’m a big fan of your dad…I’m just curious why you didn’t give that woman the tuna flakes for the price of the special.”

“The special is tuna salad!” he exclaimed, with a smirk that revealed a tiny crack in his “polite” demeanor.

“But, you know, the tuna flakes do actually cost you less,” I pointed out, “and it might have won you a really happy customer—maybe someone new.”

“Yeah,” he replied, ”But the next person will want to substitute chicken, and then steak.”  An angrier edge crept into his voice.  “Where does it stop?  And besides, NOBODY ASKED YOU, DID THEY?”

His armor of politeness had fallen completely away.  And two customers were lost to Frank’s great little salad restaurant that day.  As much as I enjoyed the food, and Frank, I took my lunch breaks elsewhere from then on…

I never did get to tell Frank why I stopped coming to his place.  Surely, he must have known that his son didn’t quite belong there.  I didn’t need to tell him that.  Besides, nobody asked me, did they?

But if they had, I might have explained it this way:

Surveys show that only 1 in 27 unhappy customers or clients will ever tell you about their disappointing experience.  That means that if you’ve had just one complaint, there are likely 26 other clients who were also disappointed, but never told you.  10 complaints means 270 people might have been made unhappy by a similar situation.  At 100 complaints, it’s probably too late.

If you have just one complaint, you should thank the client who was bold enough to bring it to your attention, and you should begin immediately to investigate whether there’s any problem with your service that you can fix.

If you want help serving and creating enthusiastic clients that will stick with you, do what Frank’s son didn’t, and just ask me.  I’d be delighted to help you to keep REACHING…

The BEST Advisor in Illinois

No, I don’t plan to share an opinion here about who the best advisor in Illinois is, but I wanted to make this point: Most of us know how to meet prospective clients, talk to them, and have them retain us, but the what we do is not a problem.  The problem is who we are being when we DO what we do.

A few weeks ago, James, a financial advisor, told me how he had explained all of a client’s options to her and asked her which she would prefer.  She told him that she needed to think about it and would get back to him.  Weeks went by, and whenever he called to check in, she repeatedly told him that she still hadn’t decided.  Then, at one point, she began asking questions that made him suspect that she did not entirely trust him.

He had, up until that moment, had a good relationship with this client.  Now, he was afraid of losing her.  What had gone wrong?

“Among all those options you gave her the other night, was there one you thought was in her best interest?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he replied, and he started to explain which it was, and why.

“But I guess that’s where we got stuck,” he continued.

“Well, if you were The Best Advisor in Illinois,” I asked him, “What would you have done differently at that meeting?”

James responded almost immediately.  “I would have explained that there were a lot of options, presented her briefly with the two or three I thought were the best, and then told her that the one I selected for her was the best one, and explained why.  I then would have asked her if she had any questions before we got down to the paperwork.”

Note the underlined language in this article carefully, and you’ll see the difference between what James actually did at his appointment and what he perceived the “Best Advisor” would have done.  As he saw it, the Best Advisor would have simply assumed that his client would accept his choice for her.  He wouldn’t have asked his client which she preferred; he would have taken charge to supply her with the option he had determined was right.

Why, then, had James not acted like The Best Advisor in Illinois?

James was afraid—of pushing the client too hard, of not letting her feel that she was in control of the decision, of having her think that maybe he’s not as nice as she once thought.  He needed to be liked, and so he was trying to be nice—and so, he didn’t serve her in the best way he could.  Most of all, he was afraid that he might say or do something that would cause him to lose her as a client, even if what he was recommending was exactly what he believed she should do.  And he was terrified of losing even a single good client from his small practice.

So James “danced around” his recommendation—being nice, letting her decide—and not only wasn’t she deciding, but she was now questioning whether he was the Best Advisor for her.  To top it off, he was now calling her weekly (or, should I say, weakly).

“Would The Best Advisor in Illinois continue to call this woman every week?” I asked him. 

“No,” he replied.  “He would tell her that the two of them needed to get together and talk—even if she hasn’t yet decided.  He would talk to her about his feeling that she doesn’t totally trust him.  He would tell her that the option he’d selected for her was the right thing to do, and that her delay was actually costing her money.  And, I guess, he would tell her that if she doesn’t feel right about taking his recommendations, she needs to find someone else to help her.

James promised me he’d call his client one more time and be The Best Advisor in Illinois.  A few days later, he got back to me to tell me that she had signed the paperwork to put his recommendation into motion.

Sure, he could have also been calling to tell me that he’d lost the client—but that loss had been set in motion while he wasn’t showing up to his work as The Best Advisor in Illinois.

How are you showing up?  Before you do anything with a client or a prospect, ask yourself the question: What would The Best ­­­____ in ____ do in my situation?  Focus on serving, not being liked…and watch how your practice or business begins to flourish.

Want help being The Best ____ in ____?  Just ask.  And while you’re at it, keep REACHING…

Make Everything OK

Several months ago, a Facebook friend shared with me this “Magic Button”.  Use it RIGHT NOW by exerting less effort than Dorothy did; just CLICK ON IT TWICE!!!  Once to navigate beyond this page, and again once you’re on the Magical Site.  Just a few seconds, and you’ll be beyond the rainbow:

OK, now that you’ve been endowed with otherworldly wisdom, GET BACK HERE.

Author Steve Chandler reminds his students and clients that we don’t react to what’s happening in the world—we react to our thoughts about what’s happening.

When the Red Sox are playing the Yankees and Mike Aviles hits in two runs in the eighth inning to pull the Sox ahead, Sox fans are elated and Yankees fans are not feeling “okay”.  Objectively, the event itself is neutral—a player gets a hit and two runs are scored.  But how we each feel about the event depends on our thoughts about what it means.

A dark room is just a dark room.  Only our thoughts about it give the darkness significance.  As a little boy, I would never look into a mirror in a dark room out of terror about what monsters, ghosts, or demons I might see there looking back at me.  When I became a little older, my attitude shifted; I began to play a game in the unlit rooms of my home, trying to learn the locations of furniture and other objects so that I wouldn’t need to turn on the lights.  (I have to admit that I still play this game sometimes, and it gives me an ever-greater appreciation for people without their eyesight—like my friend Jim—who don’t have a choice in the matter.)  For a majority of skeptical adults, a dark room is just an inconvenience that requires a light switch.

When a client or prospective client says “no”, it’s just someone exercising a choice.  That single reaction (or several of them in a day) might result in you feeling rejected, frustrated, or depressed; or in you thinking that you are “no good at” selling, enrolling, or engaging new clients; or that “no one wants” what you have to offer.

These feelings, however, come not from the act of someone saying “no” to you, but from what we think “no” means.

When you’re feeling low because your thoughts are clouding your perspective, you’re left with two choices of your own: Press the button and make everything okay, or check your settings of perception of objective reality.

Try this experiment: Spend your next week saying “no” to as many offers as you can—from anyone:

“Do you want to go to the movies?” “No.” 

“Would you like a sandwich?” “No”

See if you can’t come to see “no” as a simple choice.  Then, make some calls with the perspective that “no” is as fine a choice as is “yes”.  Outcome dependency is a subjective setting you are free to check and change.

If that doesn’t work, contact me, and we’ll talk about your perceptions.

In the meantime, PRESS THE BUTTON, and keep REACHING…

DITCH THE EMAIL APPROACH

“I am an insurance agent who has now ventured into financial planning,” Gary, a subscriber, told me the other day.  “My biggest challenge,” he continued, “is marketing my services.  I have tried emailing my insurance clients, but have received no responses.”

“What can I do differently?” he asked.

I’d like to share some of my thoughts in response to Gary’s question:

First and foremost, DITCH THE EMAIL APPROACH!  Pick up the phone and CALL instead.  There is nothing wrong with emails—or even Facebook or Twitter—when they are the right tools for the job.  However, if you’re trying to reach existing clients to ask them if they’d like to sit down with you and explore a new way in which you might be able to help them, these are the wrong tools.  The best way to accomplish your goal is to have an actual conversation—and the phone is a much better tool with which to accomplish it.

Second, SLOW DOWN.  This idea goes hand-in-hand with the first.  Picking up the phone and calling people individually is a slower, more deliberate approach to “marketing” than blasting out masses of emails.  It requires thought, preparation, and yes—a bit of courage!  Start by choosing one client that you believe you can really help with your [new] service(s).  Call him or her.  Make sure you already have a great relationship with this client.  Ask how you’ve been doing so far.

Then, tell him or her you’d like to meet to do a complete fact-finding session so that you can help even more or in another way than you have previously, and see if you can set up an appointment.

Now, you can call a second client and do the same thing.  One by one.  Serving good clients better than you have before will open the door to more business with them and to referrals for more people like them.

Gary needs to make a list of his best clients and consider whether they might need his new services.  If he is one of those agents who sells a policy and moves on, never to be seen or heard from again—so that there are no real client relationships formed—he needs to start by reaching out to clients to develop rapport with them.

A great way to check in on your relationships with your clients is simply to ask them if they’re satisfied with your services.  If they’re not, they are not yet candidates for your newer ventures, but they are awarding you the opportunity to fix any faults in your prior service.  When clients do express satisfaction, you don’t have to stop there; drill down even further by asking:

“Is there anything more I can do for you, now or in the future?”

Once it’s clear that they value what you’ve already done for them, they are likely to be receptive to your offering to help them in yet another way.

Gary invested time and money in the licensing and training he needed in order to have more ways to serve his clients.  Of course, he also did this in order to have more ways to earn an income, but in the end, which fact will matter most to themApproaching clients by email is not the best way to show them your desire to serve.

Call your clients.  And call ME if you want to discuss other powerful tools for growing your business!  (OK, you can email me, if you’d prefer.)  No matter what tools you have in hand, remember to use them, and keep REACHING…

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