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When Is It OK to Lie?

“When an old, inactive client on my list won’t respond to my calls and letters,” a financial professional at one of my workshops told the group, “I send a card confirming our appointmentan appointment we don’t have and that gets them to call me.”

“But that’s a lie,” I responded. “You’re using a lie to get them to call you.”

“So?” the indignant advisor shot back. “Clients lie all the time.”

While she was right that clients are often less than truthful about what they tell us, the idea that it was, therefore, okay for a professional to lie in order to get an appointment or close a sale bothered me a great deal.

A few days later, I came across an e-mail from a colleague, Ari Galper, complaining that somewhere along the line, it seems to have become okay to lie. Only we don’t call them lies, Ari complained, we call them techniques:

“I’m conducting a survey…” (when you’re really not)
“I was going to be in your neighborhood…“ (when you really weren’t)
“I’m confirming our appointment…” (when there is none)
“There are just two left…” (when there are plenty)

Many of the so-called “sales gurus” are teaching professionals that the end (getting the client) justifies the means (saying anything, without regard for the truth). It’s no wonder that the professionals and entrepreneurs who find their way to me tell me that when they hear the word “sales”, they tend to run for cover. They think of the stereotyped car salesman in the bad hairpiece and the loud checkered jacket who pretends to bring your counter-offer to his manager.  (By the way, if you didn’t know this already, the car salesmen are often in the manager’s office talking sports, not the best offer for you. They already know what the bottom-line price will be.)

In growing your business or practice, the end seldom justifies the means. Tell your clients and prospects the truth so that they’ll have a reason to trust you. They may be conditioned to lie, but it will be easier to get to their truths if you are being authentic.

The advisor who addressed the group at my workshop was proud of the fact that her lie compelled these inactive clients to communicate with her—something they had previously refused to do. The lie got them to update their information with her, but I can promise that after that, they went back to being inactive. If I were the client, I’d be firmly convinced that the lie she told to get my attention justified my decision to no longer work with her.

You’ll get more clients when you take the pressure off yourself to play games with the truth.

If I can help you improve your prospecting and client relationships, please contact me today. In the meantime, keep REACHING…

Lessons from a Life Lived

Corey Rudl was an Internet Marketing Pioneer who—in June, 2005—tragically died in a car-racing accident.  At only 35 years old, his professional success was already an inspiration to millions of people in both the “online” and “offline” worlds.  What follows are the Five Lessons he used to preach to anyone who would listen:

Lesson #1: Failure doesn’t “happen”; it’s a choice.
In Corey’s mind, there were only two ways you could fail: You could either quit, or you could decide not to learn from your past errors.  In whichever case, you’d have to choose to lose.

Lesson #2: Assume nothing, test everything.
Corey had no respect for people who were content to ass-u-me.  If you don’t know the solution, he pronounced, don’t guess at what it might beget the facts.  Go straight to the source for the answer, or test your hypothesis before you make claims.

Lesson #3: Make opportunities to learn, and take notes.
Corey was constantly reading…on airplanes, in between meetings, and on vacations.  He attributed his success directly to studying every business book, article, course, and marketing campaign he could get his hands on.

Lesson #4: Seek out great teachers, and be a great listener.
Corey believed that if you wanted to fast-track your career, it was critical to seek guidance from those who had gone before you…even if you only had the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

Lesson #5: Define your own success, and live with passion.
Corey’s biggest frustration was that people seemed to just let life “happen” to them.  “They have dreams,” he would rant, “But they don’t set GOALS!  Why do so few of us actually design objectives and take action?”

Corey was adamant that anyone can achieve anything; that we can be anything…do anything…have anything.  If you decide that your age, work background, and level of education limit your potential, they will.  But, if you decide that you can win your objectives, you can.  While his own life was short, Corey’s teachings will long outlast him.

Don’t wait until the near-end to develop and absorb the lessons of your life.  Learn from Corey’s struggles and successes, and contact me to examine your own.  I promise to be a worthy guide as long as you choose to keep REACHING…

Half Full, or Half Empty?

Most people will immediately identify this question as the classic metaphor for how we view our lives.  Do we see them as half-full—filled with joy and wonder, with plenty of room for more?  Or do we see them as half empty—devoid of at least half of what we think we ought to have?

For at least two hundred years, people have identified the “half-full” people we know as “optimists”, and the “half-empty” people in the world as “pessimists”.

You know the difference.  The optimist is the man who is chased high into a tree by a ferocious, hungry lion and finds himself marveling at the beautiful view from that vantage point.  The pessimist is the guy on the branch next to him, on guard for snakes and spiders, who is sure that the branch is breaking and that he will be the first one to be eaten.

In our more hum-drum lives, the optimist is the businessman who is grateful that he was able to get his broken-down car running again and back on the road in less than two hours.  The pessimist is the CEO, in the same circumstance, who is angry that he has been forced suffer a two-hour delay and to come home to a cold dinner with his wife and kids.

In either case, there is a breakdown, a two-hour delay, and a car that gets back into action.  The events themselves are neutral—neither positive nor negative.  But the car owners choose their reactions to the events—whether they are “good” or “bad”—whether their glasses are half-full or half-empty.

How you react to an event is a choice you make.  You can choose to be happy that things worked out all right in the end, or you can choose to be angry and upset that they didn’t go your way in the first place.  You assign to events the value you want them to have.  Next time you’re fuming over what went poorly today, remind yourself of what went well.  You can be angry that your company’s “pay freeze” left you without a raise, or glad that you’re fortunate enough to have a job that you actually like.  You can be miserable about the truck that splashed a mud puddle onto your tan suit, or thankful that you didn’t step a little further out into the street when the vehicle tore around the corner too close to the curb.

But as I see it, the “optimist-pessimist” distinction doesn’t cover all of us.  Some people view their glasses as entirely empty.  Still fewer actually see theirs as being almost full.  In 1992, I was disabled by complications from cancer treatment, and my debts had mounted to a point from which I believed that I could never bounce back.  I have to admit that during those times, I saw my glass as being very empty.

What rose up from the near-ashes of that year, and the five “terrible” years that followed, is a living person who now almost always sees his glass as filled, to overflowing.

Don’t wait for a disaster in your life to choose to see the good in it.  Contact me for more of my story, and for help in getting the fullest perspective on your own.  Whatever you do, keep choosing to keep REACHING…

Make Your Final Offer

You need more business.  You need responses to your offers.  But you’re plagued by prospects who don’t respond to your emails or your calls.  Or worse, they “dangle” you like a fish at the end of their rods:

They react favorably in the moment, and then become unreachable.  You hear, “Yes, we should talk,” and then there’s no response at all to your efforts to arrange a time.  Or they say, “Yes, I want to hire you,” but they don’t follow through on the agreements you’ve proposed.

This week, I made a “let it go” decision about Randi, a financial advisor who had given me every indication that she would like to talk with me, but never seemed to respond to my emails agreeing to set a time.

I hadn’t been desperate to enroll a new client; I long ago decided that even if I needed an additional client, it didn’t have to be this one.  In fact, the way I work, I can’t even be sure—without speaking to someone—that I will want to work with him or her.  But with Randi, I felt I was still clinging to this idea that I needed to make a conversation happen.  I was being driven by that need, and I’m certain that she could sense it.

“How would you handle this differently if you didn’t feel that you needed the next step in this relationship to be that conversation?” my coach asked me.

“I’d make her a final offer,” I replied, “and if she didn’t respond, I’d just let it go for good.”

Of course, that was the answer.  So, I wrote Randi a “Final Offer” email:

Hi Randi,

I’ve reached out to you a couple of times since you told me you wanted to set up a coaching session, but I haven’t yet gotten a firm response.  To be concrete, here is the offer I’m making:

We talk on the phone for 90 minutes, and I give you my best coaching.  We won’t have to discuss a continued coaching program unless it feels right for both of us.  Either way, you’ll come out of the call with a clearer understanding of what you want and an awareness of some of the first steps you’ll need to take in order to get it.  That’s it!

Your response to this offer has to be a “HELL YES”!  Anything less is a “No” in my book.  And either answer is perfect.

If it IS a “Hell Yes”, let’s exchange times that could work and set it up.  If not, I won’t contact you again about this.  I know you’ll do well for yourself no matter what you decide.

Fondly,

Sandy

And with that, I let go of my need to have the conversation.  If Randi wasn’t going to give me an enthusiastic “Yes”, I would take any other response she gave (including no response) as a “No”, and move on.

In this case, after receiving my “Final Offer” note, Randi wrote me right back and set up a time to talk.  That might not have been the outcome in another case, but “chasing” her would have been about my needing the closure, not about what Randi needs.

I can help YOU let go for good, if you contact me.  In the meantime, make your best offers final, and keep REACHING…

GET THROWN OUT

My coach, Rich Litvin, emailed me this week to share a story from his own life that I wanted to pass along to you:

Last month, I told my coach, Steve Hardison, that I am ready to play a much bigger game.  So, he asked me: “Who do you want to coach?

A name came immediately to my mind, “BUT”…my coach scares me.  He scares me because nothing will ever stop him.  And that helps me to see all the “buts” I put in the way of achieving what I say I want…So I took a deep breath and at last replied: “I’d love to coach the British comedian, Russell Brand.”

And then I recalled that he had a show going up in LA that evening.  As I shared this with Steve, he said simply: “You have to go…”

I got on line at the Phoenix Airport and found that there was one ticket left to Los Angeles.  I purchased it immediately.

When I landed at LAX, I jumped in a taxi and raced to the event.  I showed up at exactly 8 PM, and was, literally, the last person to arrive.

While I was speaking to the guy at the Will-Call desk, I noticed an ALL-ACCESS PASS lying right there in front of me.  My heart began to race, because I thought: All I need to do is pick it up, and I can walk straight inside, backstage, wherever I want!

But I couldn’t make myself do it.  I felt fear, and I heard all the warning voices in my head.  I hesitated.

So, instead, I entered the theater with my purchased ticket.  I managed to find a seat in the second row, directly in front of Gene Simmons (the lead singer of the band Kiss).

As the show ended, Gene Simmons stood up and walked straight through a side door to the back of the stage.  That door was right next to my seat, and I knew that it would be easy to just slip through there with him.

But I couldn’t make myself do it!  I felt fear, and I heard all the warning voices in my head, saying things like: Russell Brand has just finished a gig.  He’ll be so hyped up right now that there’s no way he’ll want to speak to someone he doesn’t even know.  And you don’t enroll strangers into coaching by telling them you want to coach them, do you?

And I hesitated until the moment was lost.

A week later, I was speaking with my friend, Sean Stephenson, the author of
Get Off Your “But”: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself.  Sean has a rare bone disorder and was expected to die at birth.  He reached a height of only three feet, suffered more than 200 bone fractures by the time he was eighteen years old, and is permanently confined to a wheelchair.  Sean has faced innumerable reasons to give up, and has had endless opportunities to embrace self-pity.

Yet, he has lived to become a motivational speaker and author, and counts among his friends Bill Clinton, Tony Robbins, and Richard Branson.

I told Sean my story.  And then he shared one of his own with me:

A few years back, Sean was in the audience for a conference of the National Speaker’s Association.  At the end of the event, in the next room, there was a private dinner being held amongst 15 of the world’s very best speakers.  As the event space emptied, Sean said to his dad (who was pushing his wheel chair): “Take me in there, Dad.”

His dad said: “What are you talking about?  That’s a private engagement.  You can’t go in there. You’re not invited.”

Sean replied: “Just do it, Dad.  Push me in.”

They entered the room, and Sean proceeded to dine with these world-class speakers.  And no one even questioned his being there.

As he finished his story, Sean looked me in the eyes and said: “Do you know the difference between our two stories?”

I paused, and just waited for him to tell me…

I was trying to get thrown out.”

I took on a new sense of my mission that day: My only job is to get thrown out.

If you’re ready to play a bigger game, call me this week and share your story.  We’ll work on getting you thrown out of all the best places—until you belong where you want to be.  Let nothing stop you, and keep REACHING…

You Lost Me At “Hello”

I was calling an accountant client of mine—we’ll call him Bill Peterson.  The phone rang seven times, so by then, I was expecting his voice mail.  Instead, I was greeted by an unhappy, bored, stressed-sounding female voice.

“Mr. Peterson’s Office,” the voice grumbled crankily.

“May I speak with him?” I asked politely.

“He’s busy right now,” said the voice with an edge that suggested I was a huge interruption to her busy morning.  ”Would you like his voice mail?”

“I’d prefer to leave a message with a human,” I responded jovially.

“I’m sorry, sir, but I’m too busy to take a message, I can’t even find a pen in all this mess,” said the voice with mounting hostility, “Do you want his voice mail or not?”

The decision to do business with you—or to continue to do business with you—is made within the first few seconds of contact.  If I had been a client on the phone with this assistant or receptionist, I would have responded, “No, just have him send my files to my new accountant.”

But I’m the coach who is helping him get more business, so I reluctantly accepted the voice mail offer.

“I had no idea,” Bill apologized, when we spoke later on that day.  “I know Gloria is cranky sometimes—she’s got a lot going on in her life—but I never suspected that she was taking it out on callers to the office!”

You might be wonderful on the phone with your clients, prospects, and vendors, but how does your staff answer the phone?  I’ll bet that many of us would be as surprised as Bill at what we overheard if we were paying closer attention.

In case it isn’t obvious, here’s how the conversation should have gone:

Pleasant Voice [answering after no more than three rings]: “Mr. Peterson’s Office. This is Gloria. How may I help you today?

Me: “May I speak with him?”

Pleasant Voice: “I’m sorry, sir, he’s with a client at the moment. Maybe there’s something I can help you with?

Many of my clients have opted for the efficiency of calls being automatically forwarded to their voice mail boxes.  But if you want to make a really good impression on a new client, nothing beats a well-trained, pleasant human who answers the phone promptly and makes a noticeable effort to be helpful.

If you don’t know how your clients, prospective clients, vendors, and others are being treated, have someone call your office while you’re listening in.  If there are problems with reception, gently work on fixing them.

Maybe there’s something I can help you with?  Contact me now, before another of your clients asks for her files.  Keep working to improve your “front end”, and keep REACHING…

Don’t Ignore Referability

Last November, my mother received a well-written letter from a law firm offering to represent her in a tax appeal, which might bring about a refund of some of her real estate taxes.  A simple “Attorney Representation Agreement” and a return envelope were enclosed.

My mother, who understandably defers to me on legal matters, asked what she should do.  The firm, we discovered, was relatively large, with several offices in two states, and the attorney who had signed the letter (we’ll call him “Ed Jones”) was a local tax and real estate partner.  The practice of tax appeals, while only one service this firm offered, was an area in which they were highly specialized.  So, I recommended that my mother retain them, and offered to send the Attorney Representation Agreement back to them on her behalf.

By the end of January, nearly two months later, we had yet to receive an acknowledgment that her agreement had been received, so I wrote an email to Attorney Jones inquiring about it.
Jones replied that the agreement had been received and that we would be receiving a follow-up letter shortly.

Two weeks later, in February, Mom at last received a memo from Jones’s firm acknowledging receipt of the ARA.  It was a photocopy of a signed document (with no addressee specified), which advised:

“We will contact you when we have matters of substance to report, such as any meaningful settlement offer from the municipality.”

Last month, having heard nothing from the law firm since that February memo—four months prior—I emailed Ed Jones.  “I know that you promised to contact us if there were matters of substance to report,” I began, “But you would avoid a lot of our nagging if you could spend just thirty seconds giving us an update.”

Two hours later, I received a reply from Jones’s paralegal, telling me that there was a settlement offer.  The offer was actually a good one, which would make my mother very happy and be a huge win for the attorney.  But I would never use that firm myself, and I would never recommend them to anyone else…

Too many attorneys believe that the only important thing to clients is the result, but that is not the case.  Communication—preferably proactive communication—is essential for clients, and its absence will work against the power of a great result.

Maybe Jones figured that most of his clients were elderly and would not have any other work for him, so the effort of great communication wasn’t warranted.  But he’d have been completely ignoring the “referability factor”.  My mom is not likely to have further need for his help, but I refer people to attorneys all the time.  And any elderly resident of Mom’s community who had been dazzled by Jones’s communication—instead of all but ignored—might have told stories about him to neighbors, friends, and children, and encouraged them to seek out his various services.  What are those other services?  We’d know if he had communicated them.

But maybe Ed just didn’t know any better.  Maybe he handled my mother’s case in the most expedient way he knew how.

And maybe it didn’t matter.  After all, there will be countless tax appeals in the coming years.  Why even bother to work on client relationships at all?  Some doctors offices can get away with insensitive—even downright rude—handling of patients because there aren’t enough doctors to go around and regardless, their bills will be paid.

If your business is such that you can ignore true client service, do whatever you want.  If it’s like most service businesses, though, start dazzling your clients with proactive communication, and it won’t be long before you see proactive referrals coming back to you.

If you would like to know what Mr. Jones should have and could have been doing, contact me, and I’ll share my thoughts with you.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

GET OUT OF THE WORLD OF “GET”

If you celebrated Independence Day yesterday (U.S.), welcome back.  I hope you had a great time and were able to spend the day with family and friends.

My coach and colleague Steve Chandler, who founded the Wealth Warrior Movement, gave me a lot of the language for today’s article. It’s one of those “I couldn’t have said it better myself” things…

Most professionals are taught to “prospect”—to market themselves. They put in long hours and good money on lead lists, websites, and other marketing activities, and they notice that nothing is happening. They aren’t getting clients.

I have been fortunate enough to learn why prospecting and marketing isn’t working for them. My own coaches, Steve and Rich, have worked with me on how to get clients. They constantly remind me to slow down with each person I talk to and practice servingcreating client relationships based on giving, rather than getting. I now almost always have most of the clients I could ever want or need.

It comes down to whether clients and prospective clients sense that you are serving them—or serving yourself.  Are you GIVING…or GETTING?  Most of the professionals who focus all day on what they can GET are not getting much of anything. Those focused on what they can GIVE, are getting a lot.

The scenario based on GET works like this:

The professional meets with a prospect and begins a manipulation. He might start in with passive aggressive verbal maneuvering in an attempt to make working with him look attractive to the prospect, and he would end the conversation with some kind of awkward request or question. And the prospect almost always says, “Let me think about it.”

And the primary reason for the pushback is that there’s been no actual service from which they can determine the value of your offer.  You GAVE very little, and now you want a contract to keep on doing the same.  I would need some time to think about that.

That’s the world of GET. Sound familiar? Getting doesn’t get it. The world of I WANT is a repulsive world to a prospective client. It pushes people away.

That’s one reason why marketing and mass sales efforts—along with old style sales techniques and strategies—are not working for many professionals. Every communication is a GET communication and between every line of copy or manipulative statement is I WANT! I WANT! I WANT YOUR MONEY!

Another reason the GET approach isn’t working is that it’s uncomfortable for the professional to go through this routine every day.  So even if she’s telling herself “I’VE GOT TO DO MY SALES TODAY—I’VE GOT TO GET A CLIENT, I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY!” her subconscious is saying, “I understand, but let’s procrastinate on this one. Just for today. Just put it off for today. You can sell tomorrow when you feel better and can better withstand the pain of it.”

For these professionals to become prosperous they would have to stop marketing to their prospective clients and, instead, slow down and start serving them.

The world of GIVE is very different.  Prospective clients feel that you’re serving them and when it’s time for you to leave, the urge to continue what you started with them is strong.

In the GIVE world, when you talk about your fees, they already have a sense that you are worth the money and they have an urge to continue working with you.

If you were taught to live in the GET world and find that it’s not working—or you’re not doing the activities you know you need to do to keep things going—it’s time to move to the GIVE world.  Try it, and see what happens.

A large part of my work is helping professionals cross the bridge between these two worlds, so they can have the kind of clients they want.  Contact me if you’d like help getting across, and in the meantime, keep REACHING…

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…

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