Browsing all articles in REACHING…

As If Your Life Depended on It…

I pushed too hard the other day.  Or did I?

I was trying to get Janis, a relatively new financial services representative who works at a branch of a large insurance company, to take the last available seat in my workshop program.  I had offered her help with the tuition, and she had committed on the phone to joining me.  But several days before the program, she wrote to me explaining that she had run into a problem:

I’m having a huge reversal right now.  Just lost 11K in premium on Tues.  I will have to forfeit at this time and get back to the phones this week.  My apologies.

I sensed desperation in her email.  In my mind, I saw this moment as a critical one—as the perfect indication that Janis should be in my program, even at a further-reduced rate.  I asked her to call me by 4pm, but she didn’t call.  So, I wrote:

You didn’t call me back yesterday.  My sense is that you’re panicking—it seems Life or Death.  You clearly need help and I want to give it to you…If you have any interest in continuing in this career, without burning out, call me today and commit to getting help.

Okay, so my last bit of language was a little strong.  Here’s what she replied:

I’m slightly put off by your tone when you say, if I want to continue in this career then I will commit to getting help.  My dear, if I don’t succeed in this career, then it was a stepping stone and a foundation for something better.  I am wise enough to know that this career doesn’t define who I am, my character does.  I have a greater purpose.  Working here is just seasoning to a pot.

I loved her thoughts, so I responded with an apology:

I did not mean to put you off, and I apologize for speaking as strongly as I did.  Thanks for the explanation.  I did think I was hearing panic, but from your note I can see that it was just temporary disappointment and a lot of determination.

But then, I thought about how she responded to what she had viewed as a crisis.  What had I missed?  Her immediate answer for her setback was to be COLD CALLING into the night.  While cold calling can get you some business, the whole point of my workshops is to teach better ways of getting clients.  Janis’s decision not to participate virtually doomed her to continue using a far less potent approach.

Here’s what I could have been helping Janis learn to do:

1. Start with people she knows already.  At its best, cold calling involves not being able to reach most of the people you call and succeeding in making appointments with fewer than 10% of those you actually reach.  Rapport is harder to establish because there’s a higher level of wariness on the part of the prospect, so converting someone into a client is a difficult challenge.

Calling someone you already know, or someone who has been introduced by someone you know, gives you a significantly higher chance of setting an appointment and of converting prospects into clients.

Instead of grabbing a list and frantically making call after call, Janis might be doing much better if she SLOWED DOWN and thought about who she could invite to the office one day, or who might be able to introduce her to someone she would love to help.

2. Tell people who she wants to work with.  You can identify individuals you want to work with.  If you know one well enough, contact him or her and say so yourself.  If you don’t, contact someone who does know him or her, and ask for an introduction.  Studies have shown that even people who are reluctant to give referrals to a professional will be happy to exercise their “influence muscle” to make an introduction to someone who has requested it specifically.

3. Use social media.  Facebook and LinkedIn will give you the names of people your closest friends and associates know.  Use those names for ideas about whom you might want to meet by introduction.

4. Life or Death.  I could have asked Janis to explore this question: If your life did depend on getting a new 11K Client this week, what would you do?  Janis’s current career choice may only be “seasoning”, but if she really thought about and harnessed what her panic seemed to demonstrate, she would wrangle new clients light years more quickly than she ever could by simply going “back to the phones” again and again.

For most professionals, it is possible to use their “inner circles”—and a balanced sense of determination—to find and create new clients more effectively than through cold calling.  If you can commit to improving your tactics and your mindset when it comes to your career, contact me for help, today.  I’ll leave my doors open past 4 pm…especially for my local friends who may still be amidst real crisis.

So even if I’m pushy, don’t confuse me with that hurricane.  Reach out, and keep REACHING…

The results you’re getting right now in your career—and in your life—are exactly the right results…of the systems you’ve created.

If you’re not making or saving enough money, if you feel overwhelmed, or if things are just too hard, it is not because YOU are flawed—it’s because the methods you’ve implemented, by which you do your business and spend your days, are perfect at yeilding these effects.

Through most of my young-adult life, I had a flawless system for being broke.  It worked simply and fully, just as it was designed: Earn money, spend more than you earn; earn more money, spend more than that.  Earn even more money, spend even more…and so on and so on in pristine functionality.

The system I designed for being broke worked perfectly.  It gave me precisely the result it was designed to create.

If you want a different result in your life, you have to create a new system—one that will get you that result—and start to use it.

For the past few months, I have been working with Burt, who I wrote about at the end of August.  To recap, after our second or third session, he called me concerned that the new work we were doing was not going to be effective.  His worry had been spurred by members of his peer group, who were encouraging him to stick to the systems they all had been using.

“Burt,” I asked him, “Are any of the people in your peer group making significantly more money than you are?”

“No,” he responded, “One of the reasons we all meet is that we’re all at about the same level.”

“What if all of the things you’ve been doing up until now got you all to that same level, but no higher?” I posed.

The systems he and his peers had learned were perfect for the results they were all getting.  As I pushed forward with Burt, I encouraged him to see that if he wanted to get to a higher level, he needed a different system.

Once we started creating better systems for delighting existing clients and acquiring new ones, Burt’s business began to grow beyond those of his peers.  He had his best August earnings ever, followed by a fantastic September.  October already appears to be another month in which he will beat the goals he has set for himself.

Since I coach professionals to be comfortable asking for referrals, last week, I asked Burt if he was ready to introduce me to his peer group.

“Not just yet,” he replied.  “I want them to see how far ahead of them I’ve gotten first.”

If your business systems are perfect for getting you poor or mediocre results, and those aren’t the results you want, let me help you design and implement a system to replace the ones you’ve been working with for far too long.


The “No” Game.

“I know it’s crazy,” exclaimed Barry, a young financial advisor in New Jersey, while on the phone with me.  “I want to be in this business and I want to be successful, but I can’t bring myself to make the phone calls I need to make—and if I don’t, obviously, none of that will happen.”

Barry proceeded to tell me how many hundreds of calls he’d initiated over the past few months and how discouraged he had become.  He acknowledged that if he didn’t start reaching out to people again, he would have no choice but to find another line of work, and insisted that changing careers wasn’t what he wanted.

We discussed how the best people for him to approach would be his “warm market”—the people he knew already—but how he was especially terrified about calling them.

“I’d much rather cold call,” he insisted, and although I view cold calling as a last resort for most professionals, I conceded that it might help him to at least start with some activity there.

“You’ve made plenty of cold calls before,” I remarked, “So what’s stopping you from just picking up the phone and making more?”

“I don’t know,” he replied, “I just feel like I can’t pick up that phone for anything.”

“Then maybe you’re approaching these calls the wrong way,” I suggested.  “Make it a game—your need for a client is making calling so stressful, it’s no wonder you can’t bring yourself to do it.”

“What if the goal here was not to get an appointment, but to collect NOs?” I continued.  “How many NOs could you collect in a day?  Make it a game, just for today.”

Since he wasn’t doing much of anything productive in his current funk, anyway, Barry agreed he could give up just one day to play our little “NO” Game.

Now, we had to give the game some structure.  We decided to make it a bit like baseball, so that Barry’s challenges were as follows:

1. Break up the day into innings.  Make 20 calls, then take a break and reward yourself: a walk around the block, some peanuts and crackerjacks; a cup of coffee or a lunch break.  Then make 20 more calls, and continue the call-reward pattern throughout the day.

2. Keep score.

~Every “dial” (do we still call them dials?) would be a swing.

~Every “connect” (an actual conversation—however short) ending in a “NO” or a “not right now” would be a hit.  (Hits are what we’re looking for.)

~Every “Yes”—an appointment to see a prospective client—would be a Home Run.  (Great if you can get them, but we’re only really after hits.)

At the end of the day, Barry had made 109 dials, had connected with 27 people, and had booked three appointments.  In baseball jargon, he was batting .248 and already had made 3 home runs for the season.

Much more importantly, Barry was ready to play the game again the next day.

Author B.J. Gallagher coined the phrase “Yes lives in the Land of No”.  But until Barry was willing to play the “No” Game, he was stuck in No-Man’s Land.

If you’re stuck wishing for Yeses but scared to face the Nos, isn’t it time you reached out and had a conversation with me?  Your success is in your hands.  Batter up…and keep REACHING…

It’s Just the GREAT POTOO!

My friend and fellow coach, Jason Westlake, took six executives deep into the Amazon last month for an unforgettable coaching/jungle experience.  He spent several weeks before the group arrived working with scientists in a remote area that has been barely touched by civilization.

Here’s how he described his first night there:

I slept by myself in a small tent about 200 feet into the jungle along a trail.  There was nothing but thick brush around me, and I couldn’t see to the nearest tent.

I couldn’t get to sleep, and at around 3 am, I heard a horrible ugly growl that lasted at least six seconds.  And the sound was close.  I went through every animal I knew in my head to try and identify the sound, but the only thing I could think of was a big cat, like a jaguar.  The growl made my spine tingle.

I prayed that it would go away.  But I heard it again 10 minutes later, and then a third time, and then a fourth, over the space of only 30 minutes.  By the fourth growl, I was ready to fight the jaguar.  I was ready to face my death.

In the morning, I got up and told all the scientists my story about the growl.  They replied, “Oh, that wasn’t a jaguar. That was just a Great Potoo.”  ”What’s a Great Potoo?” I asked.  They replied, “It’s a night bird with a wide mouth and a horrible growl that sounds like a large mammal.”

I have often faced a situation where I was to give a presentation to an audience I imagined as a room filled with killer jungle cats; or where I needed to call someone who was ready skin me alive.  As I came closer to the moment that I would have to make that presentation, or that phone call, I envisioned embarrassment, stumbling, and stuttering—circumstances I viewed as being far worse than death.  When the moment finally came, though, I found I had only been up against the Great Potoo!

Those growls we hear in the night are rarely vicious jaguars.  Contact me, and I’ll help you to see that the ones you hear come from Great Potoos, as well.  Or, let Jason take you on your next brush with reality.

Whatever your adventure, keep REACHING

Don’t PLEASE People; SERVE People

In his recent Harvard Business Review article, “The End of Solutions Sales,” Matt Dixon reported the results of a study of 20,000 salespeople around the world.  The study grouped salespeople into five distinct profiles:

1. Challengers: These are salespeople with a provocative point of view that they’re not afraid to share with a customer.  They push the client beyond his or her comfort zone to make sure they are getting what they need.

2. Relationship Builders: These salespeople are out to take care of whatever a client needs.  Their goal is to make the client happy, and to avoid creating stress at almost any cost.

3. Reactive Problem Solvers: These salespeople are more focused on post-deal execution than they are on getting the next deal signed.  As a result, clients love them.

4. Lone Wolves: These are the prima donnas of sales.  If it weren’t for the fact that they meet and exceed their sales goals, they would have been fired long ago.

5. Hard Workers: These salespeople show up early and stay late.  To them, sales is a numbers game, and you need to work long and hard in order to build the numbers.

The researchers found that while all of these profile types are capable of being top performers, the profile with the most top performers was actually the first group, the Challengers.

Interestingly enough, the Relationship Builders came in last.  They constituted the smallest percentage of top performers in the study.  Those who did especially poorly were trying—but failing—to sell those same “disruptive” (uncomfortable) solutions toward which the Challengers pushed their clients successfully.

“But,” I hear someone saying, “YOU preach relationship building!”

So, here’s the distinction: Building relationships IS important.  But “Relationship Builders”, as Dixon identifies them, go beyond rapport.  Their drive to build the relationship includes a drive to PLEASE a client, even if doing so doesn’t SERVE the client.  When it’s time to recommend action, for instance, they say: “Whatever you want…”  They go so far out of their way to avoid confrontation and stress that they avoid telling the client what he or she ought to hear.  When truly serving someone means urging him or her to do something that will be uncomfortable, clients tend to prefer the attitude of a Challenger.

Based on the results of Dixon’s study, more people want to work with a professional who says, “Here’s what we need to do,” than with one who says “Which one of these options are you most comfortable with?”  Since people want to deal with an expert, think of the attitude you’d prefer your doctor to have in a time of crisis.  ’Bedside manner’ is important, but if she believes that surgery is your best option, you won’t want her to try and reduce your stress by telling you about all the other ways you can handle the problem.  You’ll want her to firmly help you make the most appropriate choice.

Build great relationships with clients, but serve them by being truthful about what the right solution is—even if hearing your recommendation might be stressful.  Being firm about the solutions you recommend will increase your business.  When it comes to your advice, don’t be a people-pleaser—it will come across as weak, and—the study shows—it will ultimately cost you clients.

Talk to me about helping you be a Challenger who also builds great relationships by contacting me today.  Better still, if you’re a financial or insurance professional, join my 100 Days to $100K program on October 20th.  Stop pleasing, start serving, and keep REACHING…

Which Pony Would YOU Buy?

The story below is from an article (by Jay Abraham) that my coach and colleague, Rich Litvin, shared with me just the other day.  I’m passing it on to you this week because it’s a great illustration of a concept every professional should understand.


A farmer wanted to buy a pony for his little daughter.  There were two for sale in his town.  Both ponies were equal in all aspects.

The first salesman told the farmer he wanted $500 for his pony, “Take it or leave it.”

The second salesman was selling his pony for $750.  But the second man told the farmer he wanted the farmer’s daughter to try out the pony for a month before the farmer had to make any purchasing decisions.  He offered to bring the pony out to the farmer’s home along with a month’s worth of hay to feed it.  He said he’d send out his own stableman once a week to show the little girl how to groom and care for the pony. He told the farmer the pony was kind and gentle, but to have his daughter ride it each day to make certain they got along together.

Finally, he said, that at the end of 30 days, he’d drive over to the farmer’s place and either take back the pony and clean up the stall, or he’d ask, right then, to be paid the $750.

Which pony do you suppose the farmer decided to purchase for his daughter?


Unless your service seems to a prospective client to be no better than that provided by a lower-priced competitor, he or she will NEVER make the decision to hire one of you on price alone.  Show up powerfully when you pitch, and you’ll be worth the higher price.  Pony or no, your service is part of the package you’re selling.

If you’d like some help packaging your products, contact me.  Broach the upper limits of what you can offer, and no matter what your price, your clients and customers will keep REACHING…


“I don’t want to cold call,” Robert, a financial advisor in Michigan who I’ve been working with, began.  “But I don’t know how to fill my time.”

We were discussing Robert’s second career, which he has told me that he loves, but for which he just hasn’t been finding enough clients.

“Let’s start with the people you already know,” I advised.

“Well, I know a lot of people who could use my help, but I haven’t spoken to some of them in years,” Robert exclaimed.  “And a lot of the ones I’m closer to are avoiding me now because I think I came across as too high pressure when I started, and it really turned them off.”

“That’s two different groups,” I told him.  “The second one is going to take some time to rework, so let’s look first at the ones you haven’t yet spoken with.”

“Well, they taught us to just call them up and offer to sit down with them,” Robert offered. “But I’m not comfortable with that.  How would I be able to convince them that I care about them if I called them up out of the blue after five years to ask for an appointment?” he asked.

An easy way to ask someone you haven’t had contact with in a long time if she might be interested in working with you is just to tell her that you wanted to reach out to everyone you knew and that you included her:

Rather than making a dozen calls to total strangers like a lot of advisors do, I decided I’d prefer to call people I actually have some connection with who might be ready—or are already working on—investing for their futures, and who might want some professional help.  You were one of the people I thought of.  Would you be open to discussing your situation with me for a couple of minutes?

But this approach was way too “salesy” for Robert, so we discussed the approach I actually prefer.  It’s much slower, but I feel that it’s also much more effective:


CONNECT.  Think about where your relationship is with someone.  Could you call him?  Could you email her?  Could you Friend him or her on Facebook or add them on LinkedIn?  Then, start to move the relationship forward to the point where you can meet with them—for coffee or to see their businesses, or whatever.

BUILD RAPPORT.  Once you’ve connected and have started to engage, you will come to know your old contact better, and he or she will come to know you again.  Inevitably, the discussion will turn to what you do for a living.

OFFER YOUR HELP.  Once what you do is out in the open, there are many simple ways to suggest that you’d like to offer your professional help.  Here’s one of the simplest:

So that’s the work I’m doing, and I really enjoy it.  Have you ever worked with anyone who does what I do?…

Whatever service you provide, if you want help offering yours, contact me now.  If you’re a financial advisor or insurance professional, take a look at my 100-day Client Magnet Workshop Intensive, starting with an all-day workshop in the New York City area on Saturday, October 20th.

Whatever you do, keep REACHING…

Failing on Purpose?

Throughout my years as a coach and sales trainer, I’ve noticed a sad but interesting phenomenon: Professionals sometimes fail on purpose.

A few years ago, I asked a group of coaches who were attending the event at which I was speaking how many of them were there because they needed more clients.

All 47 of the people in the room raised their hands.

I then asked how many of them were getting some kind of coaching or training to improve their situation and astoundingly, this time, only TWO hands went up.

One of my coaches, Steve Chandler, talks about how people will fight to their deaths to defend a story they’ve made up about themselves (e.g. “I don’t need help…I can do it on my own”, or “I tried getting help, but it didn’t work”) rather than simply showing their vulnerability to someone by asking for what they need and then following through to get it.

This past June, I offered a select group of financial advisors an intensive workshop on client development.  I filled the program, which included an all-day in-person workshop in New Jersey, followed by several group and individual coaching calls.

Everybody showed up for the all-day workshop, but many chose not to take advantage of the coaching sessions that came afterwards.  I understand that investing in help when you’re not sure you’ll get value for your investment causes people to hesitate.  But the people in this workshop had already paid for the help.

A few of those people actually didn’t need more help.  A couple were already my private clients.  And one or two may not have felt that what I was doing could help them.  I can accept and respect that.

The rest, however, simply chose not to get the help they so desperately needed.  Rather than being vulnerable enough to admit that they needed it—so that they could get and grow from it—they chose to take their story, that they could do it on their own or not at all, to their deaths.

They chose to fail on purpose.

If you’re one of those professionals who wants to say, “I tried everything, but none of it worked,” stick to your story…and fail on purpose.  Go ahead—it’s okay.

If, however, you are willing to admit you need a little extra, I would encourage you to take a calculated risk and invest in it—down to your last borrowed dime, if need be.  If you can extend your arm to meet a helping hand, you might change your story.


P.S.  If you’re a financial advisor or insurance agent who wants to grow your practice, grab an inexpensive opportunity for training and coaching at my next 100-Day Client Magnet Intensive, beginning with a full-day workshop on Saturday, October 20th.

If you’re a coach or trainer, take a look at my new Client Magnet Academy for Coachesa full-year membership program of client-enrollment support for less than $500.

Abe Lincoln: Failure is Fleeting

In the wake of a very American holiday weekend dedicated to rewarding us all for our hard work, I am reminded of a lesson that can be gleaned from the life of one of our most celebrated Presidents—that failure is always temporary, unless you choose to make it permanent.

For 28 years, Abraham Lincoln experienced one failure after another.  In 1833, he is reported to have had what we now know as “a nervous breakdown”.  When he ran for speaker of the state legislature in 1838, he was defeated.  In 1848, he lost renomination to Congress.  In 1849, his bid to be appointed Land Officer was rejected.

But these failures didn’t stop Lincoln.  In 1854, he was defeated in his bid for a seat in the Senate.  Two years later, he lost the nomination for Vice President, and two years after that, he was again defeated in his run for the Senate.  Then, in 1860, he was elected President of the United States.

Just as courage isn’t the absence of fear, “SUCCESS“ isn’t the absence of failure.  Failure is the way we learn as we go along.  Success comes from refusing to quit the journey.  If you reach for a very high branch, you may fall hard.  But if you keep trying, you’ll have the chance to climb higher than those who allow their fears to hold them back.

As you’re building your strength to the max, the right trainer can give you the boost you need.  I’d be glad to coach you up your Tree of Success if you contact me.  Then, even if your legs get bruised or your arms get sore, you can trust that the trunk of what you’re after will remain steadfast.  So keep your head up, and keep REACHING…

Einstein’s Tip: Cure Insanity

Burt, an independent financial planner who was already making a good living, was looking for a way to further increase his sales.

With my coaching help, he started a marketing (“prospecting”) program that was based on my Client Magnet discipline, paying attention to the fact that clients are usually tuned to radio station WII-FM (“What’s In It For Me”).  Refocusing his initial conversations to be completely client-centric was, for Burt, a radical departure from the “I’m building my business…” approach he had been using for years.

After our second or third session, Burt called me concerned that the work we were doing was not going to be effective.

“I speak with a group of my peers on the phone every morning,” he started, “And when I told them today what I’ve been trying out with you, they told me it wouldn’t work and that I should go back to doing what I was doing before.”

“So now, I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing,” he concluded.

“Burt, are any of the people in your peer group making significantly more money than you are?” I asked him.

“No,” he responded, “One of the reasons we all meet is that we’re all at about the same level.”

“What if all of the things you’ve been doing up until now got you all to that same level, but no higher?” I asked.

Burt paused for a long moment and then responded: “I see what you’re saying.  If we don’t change our approach, we’ll keep getting the same outcome…and making the same income.”

Albert Einstein is credited with having defined “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  If you’ve reached a certain level in your business or practice and can’t seem to get any further, there may be a touch of insanity involved.

You need to look first at the extent to which existing clients or customers are praising you.  If you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, but only that much, then you aren’t really doing enough, and this will show in the limited number of unsolicited referrals you are getting.

This week, Burt told me that he had just experienced his best August ever, and that he was going to be disclosing to his peers that his business had increased as a result of our work together.  He offered (without solicitation) to introduce me to them.

Burt’s success was about curing his insanity.  Doing new and different things in his practice was the remedy he required.

If you’d like to talk about curing your insanity, contact me today.  Regardless, keep it fresh, and keep REACHING…

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