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Holiday Sales are Easy as Pie

For most advisors, the Fourth Quarter means a year-end blitz to improve their production numbers, hours billed, and company or office standings.  Realistically, there are only a few ways to do this:

1) Find more clients
2) Find more ways to serve existing clients
3) Make more sales
4) Make bigger sales

The majority will focus on the first of these, squeezing in as many cold calls, workshops, and client-appreciation events as they can.  They’ll rush around, becoming exhausted and frazzled—but not necessarily maneuvering themselves into a better position—by the time the holidays hit.

Many top producers, however, will slowly and meticulously examine their top clients’ files to see if there are more ways they can serve them, planning out their referral discussions, and looking for ways to surprise and delight them enough that these advocates will tell their friends and family members about the magical experiences they are having.  More business from existing clients and more quality referrals—without the frazzle and exhaustion.  Their Strategy is Simple:

1. Serve them.  Set appointments with your best clients.  Review their files first to see if there’s any way you can help them that you aren’t already—whether it will produce immediate income for you or not.  If they need an introduction to an accountant or a good podiatrist, serve them by being the source.

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Nightmare Before Xmas (’93)

2. Use the holidays as an excuse to surprise and delight them.  Fortunately, while the upcoming season may feel like crunch time, it also presents some great opportunities to get your clients talking about you.  The first of these opportunities is actually Halloween.  Just think of all the ghoulish possibilities!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do your best clients have children who will be dressing up?  How about investing in the Klutz Face Painting Book?  It comes with easy-to-remove face paints and detailed instructions for creating characters.  Or, pick up and deliver some great pumpkins and bring them to their homes.

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Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel

For Thanksgiving, find out if your best clients will be traveling and, if not, order them a wonderful pumpkin or apple pie from a local bakery or pie company.  Hand-deliver it a day or two before the Holiday—or on Thanksgiving morning.

Two years ago, my coaching client, Don, was invited in to meet his financial client’s family when he showed up at the door with pie.  In the presence of her relatives, his grateful client announced how much she enjoyed doing business with her advisor—how much they had accomplished and how much more they would have to do.  A few days later, one of her guests contacted Don about starting to work together.

If pies aren’t your thing, be creative.  It’s about astonishing your clients in a way that gets them smiling about their relationship with you and raving about you to the people they know.  Brainstorm with your team.  Is there something unique and special you can do to show them how important they are to you?

3. Talk about helping their families and friends.  With another financial year coming to a close, do your clients have friends or family members who might need your services?  If you can specifically identify someone in their circles, ask about him or her.  If not, ask them if they know someone who might need your help before the quarter’s done.

You can still go ahead and make those cold calls, book those workshops and events, but put your emphasis on existing clients—the people who already do business with you and will be joyous to rave about you to those they love.  If you need more tips on serving up the right surprises, contact me. Either way, keep delivering what you do best, and keep REACHING…

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GIVE SOMEONE THE GIFT OF SELF/SALES HELP

Send someone a thoughtful and thought-provoking gift this season:

Autographed copies of my books, The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet.  I’ll even include a personal note that you can customize.  There’s no extra charge for the signing, nor for holiday gift-wrapping.  Simply click here to order the 2-book package, and make sure to edit the Gift Options and/or Add a Comment or Request to let me know your needs.

The Keys to an UPGRADE Are in Your Hands

Nine coaches, myself included, were sitting in a hotel meeting room in Scottsdale, Arizona, mesmerized by Master Coach Steve Hardison, the guest speaker at our workshop.  To have Hardison coach you exclusively, you have to be willing to pay $150,000 up front, plus all of your travel and lodging to, from, and in Arizona (no refunds!) in order to meet him in his office at your appointed time every week.

Extending his fingers out into the room and gesturing above and all around us, Hardison urged: “There is no work to do out there, anywhere…Zero!”

Our minds complicate the whole thing,” he continued.  “Listen to what you say here (pointing to his head) and here (pointing to his heart).”

Everything is from the inside.  Nothing is from over here (pointing to the outside world).  Dial the right station.  When you tune in to what you really want, it will show up.  You are god with a small ‘g’.  You are creating your life.”

Dream Car

*expensivecarhd.blogspot.com

“What could you speak into the world that would upgrade your thinking from a Ford Escort to the car of your dreams?” Hardison asked.  “We are the sum total of what we speak about ourselves and the world.  Our entire world is what we’ve spoken and thought.  I speak it, and my world begins to occur for me.  This is what’s going to happen.  Every action we take is based on how the world is occurring for us.”

Hardison then told a story about once attending a movie, right before which he stood up and announced to the entire theater that he’d be giving away his client Steve Chandler’s new book after the film to anyone who promised to read it.  The people he’d come to the show with slinked down in their seats in fear of being associated with the crazy guy making a self-help announcement in the movie theater.  One friend asked him, “Can you do that in a movie theater?”  But after the movie, people lined up at the trunk of his car to pick up one of his client’s new books.

“The way the world occurs to me,” Hardison told us, “Is that I can ask anyone for anything if I choose to.”

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Imagine how successful you would be if the way your world occurred to you was the way the world occurs to Hardison: that you can ask anyone—anyone you choose to ask—to meet with you; you could ask anyone for a referral, or to buy whatever you’re offering.  And their answer wouldn’t matter.  It doesn’t mean anything.  It’s just an expression of a preference.

“Would you like one of my client’s new books?”
“No thanks.”

“Would you like to upgrade that popcorn to a Large for 50 cents more?”
“No thanks.”

“Would you like to sit down and talk with me about your financial situation?”
“No thanks.”

The world-renowned insurance agent Mehdi Fakharzadeh, now in his nineties, asks the underwriters in his insurance company to issue two insurance policies for a new client: one for the amount they discussed, and one for double that amount.  When he goes to deliver the policy, he shows his client both and explains the difference in the monthly fee.  More often than you might think, the client takes the larger policy.  The client has more protection and Mehdi earns a larger commission.  Everybody wins.

But this only happens because the way the world occurs to Mehdi, he can comfortably offer a surprise, double-sized policy to his client while he is delivering what he or she expects, and without worrying that he has overstepped.

If you’re not where you want to be in your career (or in your life), it’s probably not because you need more information.  What you need is a transformation—an alteration (or, an upgrade) in how your world is occurring to you.

To have me coach you exclusively, you just have to be willing to make the changeContact me, and whatever upgrade you desire, I’ll help you find the keys.  You’ll have to know they’re somewhere inside, but until you’re sure they’re in your hands, we’ll keep REACHING…

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Did Your Prospect Make Her SECOND DECISION?

I’ve shared a good deal of information with you recently on being willing to brand (and speak up about) the special service experience that only you offer.  Consider this a prequel to all of that.  Good; so, you’re special!  But before we get into it…

The last time you sat down with a prospect, you probably went through some awkward small talk while you anticipated getting down to fact finding, when you could relax a little.  After all, you’ve helped clients like this many times before.  You’ve listened to them answer your questions and waited patiently until it was your turn to talk about insurance or financial concepts and strategies.

Then, as you got into your prepared interviews and well-practiced presentations, your confidence would grow a little, because now you had the opportunity to show your stuff.  You were able to explain what you might do for each of these prospective clients.  You told them why you love your work.  You told them why your approach is unique—and it is—and that always felt great to share, didn’t it?  And they always seemed really interested in the conversation you were leading.  So all that was left was for you to ask them to get started—to “close”.

I mean, after all, potential clients only have one decision to make, right?  It’s simple: Would you like to work with me—yes or no?

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.  Prospects actually have Three Decisions in front of them, beginning at the time when you first approach them for an appointment:

(1) Whether to spend some of their precious time with you.  If you’re sitting down with them, they’ve already made this decision in your favor.

(2) Whether they want to change their status quo.  A prospect may have no particular regard for his current advisor, and he may fully recognize the need for more or better insurance or professional advice, but he may still not want to do anything about it.  This is the concept of inertia: A prospect at rest tends to stay at rest.

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(www.themarketresearcheventblog.com)

(3) Finally, the prospect has to decide that if he is willing to change, he wants that change to be with you.

If you’ve ever heard the words “I’d love to work with you…” and then couldn’t get the prospect back to hear your proposal, then you were probably short-changing yourself on appreciating the magnitude (and rarity) of the Second Decision.  It’s one of the biggest mistakes advisors make in the sales process.

Deciding to change—from no advisor to having an advisor, from one advisor to another, from no insurance to having insurance, from one investment to another—is actually the most difficult of the Three Decisions.  The prospect is weighing the status quo against what a change will mean, what the issues are, what his or her competing commitments are and what new commitments (financial, medical, legal, and mental) will involve, and who else might be impacted by this change.

She may have an advisor she doesn’t like.  She may actually know she needs help, or more insurance, or some other change in her financial or insurance situation.  But she just hasn’t yet made the commitment to do it.  If a potential client has not yet decided she is ready to work with someone new, and you charge in with your “solutions” and your “methodology” and your “training, experience, and credentials”, you have launched an irrelevant conversation.

You might think they need to understand the benefits of what you’re proposing, but in the absence of the Second Decision, prospects have no interest in hearing your Third-Decision Discussion—the “why you”.  Until a prospect has made the Second Decision, Third-Decision behavior (discussing the solutions only you can provide) is futile.

Talking about your unique services with someone before the person has decided to change is one of the biggest reasons you’ve often heard those positive comments about your work, and then are surprised [yet again] when the prospect cuts off communication.  He or she may have truly been enthusiastic about the idea of working with you, even if he or she hadn’t made the commitment to do it.  A single contradictory conversation with a brother-in-law, an accountant, or even a plumber could have been enough to send your shaky prospect back into hiding.

Ask questions to make sure the prospect is ready to hear solutions.  The reward will be more meaningful commitments to hearing you out and moving into the Third Decision—in other words, fewer wasted presentations, and fewer lost sales.

If you could use help moving your potential clients into their Third Decision, you only need to decide you’re ready to make a change before you contact me.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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*This article was inspired by a recent writing shared with me by my coaching colleague, Rich Litvin.  I admit to “borrowing” some of his ideas and language.

Beating THE “BUT” MONSTER

You know the feeling: You gave the presentation of your life!  You were “on fire”.  Every question was met with a dazzling, intelligent, emotional, cogent, coherent answer.  Every idea that you could share with your clients or prospective clients found its way into your head and flowed bountifully into your words.  But…

As you’re driving home, you’re not so sure.  They seemed to love the first feature you spoke about, but there was something about their comparison of your second feature to the competitor’s that might have indicated a preference for the competitor’s services…
And then, there were those few awkward seconds when your attempt at humor went right over their heads…
And those few moments when you remember feeling you were a bit “salesy” or sounded a little too desperate.
And a piece of food from lunch was stuck in your teeth!…and your tie was on, but it was sticking out from under your shirt collar…and the stain you failed to notice until now…

Growing your network, giving presentations, interviewing for clients—or for work—definitely has its ups and downs.  When the adrenaline rush starts to dissipate, the self-doubts to which we are all susceptible come flooding in.  We begin to analyze everything we’ve done, finding fault with enough things to replace all the confidence we had a few moments before with an empty, aching feeling that we’ve somehow botched the whole endeavor.

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Courtesy of DeviantArt.com

It’s The “But” Monster at work.  In my book, The High Diving Board, I talk about this creature whose original purpose was to prevent you from roaming out into the streets, or beyond the borders of your “safe neighborhood“.  As you grew and expanded that “neighborhood”, however, The “But” Monster learned to hide better, but grew with you.  Now, when he pops up out of nowhere, he’s huge, and he’s angry that you got past him in the first place to make that important call or presentation.

So, he welcomes you back home to him with the doubts that should have kept you from venturing out in the first place.  He tells you, “Yes, you wanted to fly, BUT…you’re really out of your league here.”  Or, “Sure it was a good presentation, BUT…you don’t really know that much and your competition is probably much better, anyway.”  Or, “It was a good presentation, BUT…they were probably stuck staring at that food in your teeth.”

“Why don’t you just stay here where it’s safe?” he urges.  And he could be speaking powerfully enough to keep you wallowing in that self-doubt, and causing you to avoid the next venture altogether.

BUT…don’t let The But Monster beat you!!!  Here are some ideas that might help:

a)  You can’t stop the negative feelings from arising, so let them.  Your lifelong gatekeeper is strong, immortal, and immutable.  The one thing you can do is let him rattle on, but recognize that the doubts he raises are a natural reaction to your choice to go beyond your safe neighborhood.  If you’ve accepted the concept that it’s okay to be afraid in the pursuit of your goals, then accept this corollary: You can’t stop the self-doubts, but you can decide not to let them slow you down.

b)  It doesn’t matter, anyway.  No deal, no presentation, and no single event should matter so much that actually “blowing it” could possibly destroy your life or career.  Get over your doubts about this one by jumping right into the next one.  Hey—if nothing else, you’ll have a new disaster to worry about!

c)  Let go of your outcomes.  Set your goals, do the things you need to do to reach those goals, and then stop worrying about how an individual situation works out.  For every call or presentation you actually mess up, there will be another you get right.

If you need help changing your attitude toward the bumps in the road to your success, and toward your very own incidental “But” Monster, contact me.  Or hone this outlook and other skills by joining me for my Mastering Client Referrals Workshop on Saturday, October 19th.

In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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If You Really Want It, Don’t Back Away

COME TO PRINCETON IN OCTOBER
AND BECOME A REFERRAL MASTER

If you’re a financial or insurance professional, join me on Saturday, October 19th for an all-day
Mastering Client Referrals Workshop.

Boost your year-end sales and start 2014 on a roll.  For details, take a look at

https://sandyschussel.com/mcr-workshop

Register by Friday to take advantage of the Early Registration Discount.  Or call me at (609) 454-3810 and we’ll talk about whether this program makes sense for you.
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Most people don’t really understand what courage is.  When I ask them to define it in my workshops on Overcoming Fear, the answer I often get is “the absence of fear”.

But this answer isn’t accurate.  While there are a few seemingly fearless fighters, most military personnel will admit, when you ask them, that they were afraid much of the time they were in the field.
Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s action in the face of fear.  These brave people risk—and sometimes sacrifice—their lives, but not without fear.  They do what has to be done, despite the fear.

Wherever I go, I find professionals and entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses or advance their careers.  These are people with all of the technical skills they need to be successful, but they’re still, somehow, not getting what they want.

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Either
(1) they don’t know how to get it, or
(2) they know what they need to do, but they are allowing their fears to hold them back.

Other times, more simply:
(3) they haven’t yet decided to make the change.

If you feel like your practice ought to be growing, but you’re just stuck, start by recognizing that one, both, or all three of these factors might be at play.  If fear is one of them, understand that it’s okay to be afraid when it comes to stepping into sales and marketing and other “dangerous battlefields“.  Admit that you are afraid.  But don’t respond by backing away.

Ultimately, the fear itself can’t hold us back from having what we want and need in our businesses or lives—how we view fear and our learned response to fear are the real threats.  We feel the “fear factor”—the butterflies in our stomachs, the rapid pounding in our chests—and the little voice in our heads warns us: “It’s not okay, back away.”  And we obey.

When we were children, this response probably saved our lives many times.  We’d feel those feelings when we came too close to a hot stove or stepped into the street.  But as adults, if we so much as think of picking up the phone to make that prospecting call, or attending a networking event, or making a presentation—our “back away” response keeps us from doing what we need to do.

The good news is that if we learned this response, we can unlearn it and replace it with something better:

“It’s okay to be afraid, but if this is my goal, then I have to do it.”

Battle Call
Mel Gibson in We Were Soldiers (2002)

If you can get past the fear on your own, do it.  If you can’t, decide to hire someone who can help you, or contact me to take a step in the right direction and back onto the playing field.  No matter what you choose to do, if you have a mission, keep REACHING…

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STOP SELLING!

Are you aggressively selling your services and finding that few prospective clients—even those who are clearly in your target market—are buying?

Or, maybe you’re struggling to find new clients because you’re afraid that if you reach out to people you’ll appear to be selling—something you just can’t bring yourself to do?

STOP IT!

“What is selling?” I ask at the beginning of many of my programs.

This question elicits a variety of answers that provide a window into the thinking of the professionals and entrepreneurs in attendance:

“Trying to convince someone to buy what you offer,” says one.

“Saying things that persuade someone to agree to buy your services,” says another.

Manipulating someone into feeling he or she has to have what you offer,” a third might say.

“If your view of ‘selling’ your services is something along these lines, it’s no wonder that you can’t fill your practice or find enough clients for your businesses,” I tell them.

“STOP SELLING YOUR SERVICES!”

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Courtesy of www.Entrepreneur.com

After pausing for effect, I explain, “If by ‘selling’ you mean some kind of noisy, pushy, aggressive ‘hawking’ of your services, you’ve already either sensed or discovered that ‘selling’, as you’ve defined it, doesn’t work.”

“But what if you had a different view of selling?” I ask them.  “What if selling was asking appropriate questions so that your prospective clients understand that they need what you offer?

“Stop selling,” I tell them.  Start attracting business instead.

For the rest of the seminar, we usually discuss the distinction.  Among the points I ask them to consider are these:

a) How to develop an “attraction” mindset.  What you offer is something valuable—something that people want or need.  If you have any clients at all, you’ve already proven that.  People ought to know about your practice or business.  You should be proud to tell them about it.  But you don’t have to “push” it on them.

b) How to resist the urge to “sell” and ask great questions instead.  The “selling” that doesn’t work usually involves identifying a potential client and then trying to “close” him or her on a meeting with you or on the purchase of your services.

Tell a prospective client what you do and then ask his permission to explore his situation.  The conversation might end right there, but since people do like to buy—and you’re not selling—he’s likely to agree to let you explore.  Once you have permission, ask questions designed to unearth some specific need or desire.

c) How to address the specific need or desire.  Then, instead of talking about generic features and advantages of your services, discuss how what you do meets the specific need or desire uncovered by your questions.

To learn how to stop selling and start connecting with clients, contact me.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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BE the Red Crayon
(NOT the “SALESMAN”!)

As a coach, I work with all kinds of already successful people looking for help to bring their careers—and lives—to the next level.  Most are selling professional services of one kind or another, and much of the time, they are doing so as part of an independent business or practice.  Their next level is getting more clients, getting better clients, or simply turning the clients they have already into fiercely loyal advocates who will keep working with them for years to come.

Many of my clients come to me with an idea—a paradigm—that the only way they can grow is to do something they dread: marketing, prospecting, or (horror of horrors): “selling”.

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Danny DeVito in Matilda (1996)

“But I’m an advisor,” my client Bob protested a few years ago, not a SALESMAN.”

The picture Bob had in his mind of someone who “sells” is the pushy salesman on the used car lot with the loud plaid sports jacket, the phony smile, and the bad toupee.  Who wants to be that guy?

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Like most professionals who are not precisely where they want to be, Bob couldn’t fill his day working with quality clients for two reasons:

1. He didn’t know how to attract more business; and
2. He was apprehensive about cold calling, making presentations, and other “salesy” things he was sure I’d be making him do.

“What if instead of worrying about marketing, prospecting, and selling, you just positioned yourself to attract the clients you want?” I asked Bob.

“I don’t know what you mean,” he responded, “but that sounds a lot better than selling.”

If you’re just another financial advisor, insurance producer, or attorney, you’re faced with competition from dozens—or hundreds—of people doing the same work that you are.  You’re just another “white crayon”.  You will get business, but your ability to get more and better clients will be limited.  Sending out mailings and refrigerator magnets, making cold calls and other marketing and sales activities might pull in the occasional new client, but what will work faster and better is having a way to distinguish yourself from all of the other white crayons.

Instead of struggling to sell your services, position yourself as a provider who can fulfill a specific need for a specific type of client.

Every day, I speak with people who are telling their prospects they are brokers, or consultants, or coaches, entrepreneurs or service providers, without differentiating themselves from all of the other people who do “the same thing”.  Each of them is just one more white crayon in a box filled with white crayons.

The point they’re missing is that clients are more attracted to experts and specialists—to someone unique—than to general practitioners who look like all the other general practitioners in any field.  Your prospective clients are looking for the Red Crayon.  Start attracting them by giving them what they’re looking for.

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When I explained this to Bob, he protested that he couldn’t be a Red Crayon.  He was “just another financial advisor”.  When I connected with him on social media, however, I found several posts he had written about putting four of his kids through college.

His expertise on this subject was already a way he could attract clients.  But as we spoke, he mentioned how he had put himself through college, because his own parents couldn’t afford to help him.

These were two powerful personal stories that made Bob a Red Crayon, which would, if properly displayed, comfortably attract many more new clients than any “sales” effort ever could.

Why wasn’t his practice already as full as he would have liked it to be?  Until now, Bob had always chosen to be “just another financial advisor”.  Like many of us, on some level, he was afraid to be an individual in order to have the kind of success he deserved.

If you recognize that what holds you back is fear, try my book, THE HIGH DIVING BOARD: How to Overcome Your Fears and Live Your Dreams.  If you know your hang up is not wanting to be a “pushy salesman“, look out for my upcoming workshop on MASTERING CLIENT REFERRALS without even having to ask for them, or contact me to find out more.

In the meantime, be your own Red Crayon, and keep REACHING…

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Why Should I Buy It from YOU?

I have written before on the Three Universal Marketing Questions that anyone selling his or her services needs to know the answers to:

(1) What are you offering?
(2) To whom are you offering it?
(3) Why should they hire you?

The third point—the “why”—seems to be the most troubling for many people.

“You should work with me because I really care about my clients,” Terry, a 2-year veteran financial advisor, posed in a role-play sales conversation with me.

“But that’s exactly what [your competitor] said to me,” I responded.  “Why should I choose you over her?”

Terry was stumped.  “If we’re all white crayons in a box,” I continued, “What difference does it make which crayon I pick?  All of them would tell me, if they could talk, that they are really good at coloring inside the lines.”  Once again, Terry could not answer.

“What is different about you,” I asked him again, “from all the other people who do what you do?”

“Well, I’m not really different in any particular way” he started, “we all provide the same kinds of planning services and give advice aimed at the same goals…I just know I would be more caring than anyone else.”
“What makes you think so?” I pressed.

Terry thought for another moment, and finally responded, hesitantly.  “My father died when I was just a teenager and left us with no money, so I know how important having money is—and I made up my mind that I would spend my life helping people prevent that from happening to their families.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Terry’s face brightened.  He realized he had stumbled onto the perfect answer—for him—to the “why you” question.

Red Crayon

When you can tell people why they should hire you or use your services in a way that distinguishes you from the other crayons in the box—perhaps by using powerful, personal stories or strong metaphors—you’ll get more business.

If you don’t have a clear answer to the third, or any of the Three Universal Marketing Questions, contact me for help.  Don’t be afraid to stand out of the box, and keep REACHING…

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Rejection Therapy

Be sure to check out my recent interview on entrepreneurship, sales, and success at Letsmote.com!
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If you fear rejection—in your telephone conversations, or when you ask a prospect to engage your services—you’ll definitely want to spend just 24 minutes viewing the following Video Lecture by Chinese-American entrepreneur Jia Jang at the World Domination Summit.

Jang talks about the fear of rejection that almost caused him to give up his dream of creating his own company.  He mentions going online to a site where he learned about “Rejection Therapy”.

When I saw this, I was intrigued.  I had given countless workshops wherein I challenged participants to purposely ask for things that they were previously sure would be denied to them, but I had not yet heard of “Rejection Therapy”.

After one of my Manhattan workshops, two of the attendees who had flown in from the Midwest went to a bar together and asked the bartender for free drinks, expecting a “no” response.  They told the bartender that this was their first time in New York and that they wanted to make sure the drinks were good.

To their surprise, the bartender gave them the drinks they requested, making it clear that he would allow them just one each.

When they excitedly shared their adventure with our group the next day, the point was clear:

Ask.  You may just get what you ask for.

I wondered if there really was a website about “Rejection Therapy” and if it was anything like what I was already doing in my workshops.

It turns out that Canadian Jason Comely is the founder of rejectiontherapy.com, where he defines a real life game with only one rule:

YOU MUST BE REJECTED BY ANOTHER PERSON AT LEAST ONCE, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

“Please notice the wording of the rule,” Jason tells us.  “It doesn’t say you must attempt or try to be rejected.  The rule is you MUST be rejected by another human being.  In this game, rejection is success.  No other outcome will meet the requirement of Rejection Therapy.”

If you want to play the game, visit his site, and read about what counts as a rejection attempt and a successful rejection.  Jason freely shares his game and offers a game card you can use (not required) for just $10.

In his talk, Jang tells us that in “playing” Rejection Therapy, he asked a police officer if he could drive the police car and a pilot if he could fly his small plane.  To his surprise, both let him do it—just because he asked.  In fact, in my workshops, many of the outlandish requests made by my attendees are granted.  Some have told me they found it difficult to actually be rejected.

If you often don’t ask for appointments or referrals, or a sale, because you’re afraid of being rejected, spend 100 days playing Rejection Therapy.  You’ll learn the lesson that Jang did: that it’s OK if someone says “NO”.  It’s just his or her reflex, capacity, or opinion—nothing more.

Contact me today for help, and if I have availability, give me an opportunity to surprise you with a “YES”.  Either way, keep REACHING…

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Last week, we discussed the second of three basic yet essential skills that will help you get, and keep, more and better clients:

(1) The ability to ask provocative questions
(2) The ability to listen with total focus on your client
(3) The ability to relate compelling stories and metaphors

At last, we’ve made it to the Third Skill:

3. The ability to relate compelling stories and metaphors.  Testimonials about your service help you get clients, because human beings are hard-wired to believe and love stories.  Even before people developed a fully-spoken language, they could tell stories with cave paintings.  As language progressed, one of its first uses was to communicate tales of great exploits, while sitting around the campfire…


Painting by George Strickland, courtesy of the Witte Museum.

But even when there are no clients around to give Testimonials—or campfires to sit and chat around, for that matter—stories of your service exploits can assist you in turning uncertain prospects into ready clients.

My client Michael, a financial professional, is a Master at “sales” stories:Joe, your situation is very similar to that of another client I’m helping at the moment.  He approached me a few years ago, having lost a bit more money than you did…but what his last advisor did to him was almost identical to what yours did to you.  He also struggled with whether he should get back into the market or not.  But after we talked that first time, he decided that he couldn’t let a past mishap get in the way of his retirement, and we’ve been working together successfully ever since!”

It’s a rare instance when a prospective client doesn’t come on board in the face of stories like these.

Michael also uses metaphors.  I remember our discussion about a client of his with a small retirement fund, who asked him whether he thought she could handle it herself, without an advisor.  “Sure you can,” Michael told her, “But you’d be like a leaf on a rushing stream.  With no rudder and no one to steer, you’d be rushing toward whatever result the system had in store for you.”

Michael delivered the “steering” service he promised, and the woman remained a fiercely loyal client.

One of my favorite Masters of Metaphor was Ben Feldman, who is considered possibly the greatest insurance salesmen in modern history.  Ben could look prospective insurance-purchasers in the eyes and say things like, “with the stroke of a pen, you create an estate,” and the prospects would pick up their pens to sign the application Ben had brought with him.

Another client of mine, Larry, is a financial advisor, as well.  To explain a Roth IRA to his clients, Larry uses a farming metaphor:

“If you were a farmer and you had to pay taxes,” he asks, “would you rather pay taxes on the seed, or on the crop that you harvest?”

“The seed, of course,” is the prospect’s usual reply.

“Why is that?” Larry asks.

“Well, the tax on a huge crop is probably a lot more than the tax on the seed would be,” goes the response.

“That’s why I want you to make this investment,” Larry tells his prospect.  “You’ll have already paid taxes on the seed—and you’ll be able to harvest the crop tax-free!”

As this plays out in real life, Larry manages to put all Three Sales Skills together in his presentation to prospects.  He asks provocative questions, listens with focus to their answers, and reacts empathetically by relating compelling analogies that help explain in clear terms how he is able to serve his clients.

Contact me, and I’ll help you develop these fundamental skills—or take them to the next level.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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