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DRAW Them a REFERRAL DIAGRAM!

“I found a new way to talk with clients about referring me,” Ryan, a financial advisor, once told me excitedly on the phone.  “I use a diagram!  I’ll show it to you.”

Ryan emailed me a little while later with this:

Of course, I was interested, and I called him back right away to have him explain how it worked.

“First, I draw a circle in the center of a yellow pad, where you see the ‘Joe W’, representing the client,” he started.

“Then,” he continued, “I draw circles surrounding the first circle for people they’ve already referred to me.  I thank them for the ones that worked out and tell them that these referrals are happy; I also point out the ones that didn’t work out, explaining how it just wasn’t right for whatever reason.”

“Finally,” Ryan exclaimed, “I ask them who’s missing from the chart!  I say, ‘Who haven’t we talked about yet?’”

Ryan told me that the client at the center of this drawing, Joe, looked at the chart and said to him, “I wonder why we never talked about my niece, Barbara, and her husband.”  He gestured to the open circles on the page.  “Add Barbara in there.”

Ryan was very proud of his piece of “referral technology”—and so was I!  I went on to suggest to him that any time a client or prospective client volunteers information, his next response should be a magical question—either “who else?” or “what else?”  Once Joe volunteered Barbara, for instance, a “who else” could identify another person for Joe and Ryan to discuss, and with whom Ryan could go on to arrange an appointment.  Asking  “who else?” again might have brought to light a third—and then even a fourth—potential client for Ryan.

Most professionals are terrified of the referral conversation and they either avoid it entirely or approach it so awkwardly that it doesn’t end up working for them at all.

Tim, one of my current clients, told me earlier this week that he was uncomfortable “switching” from being a professional to asking for referrals.  The goal, I told him, is to be a professional while asking for referrals.  There shouldn’t be a difference.  If you’re helping someone by providing a service, why not offer the same service to someone else in his or her life who might also really need your help?

If you have your own method of talking about introductions or referrals that works for you, please share it with me, and with the other professionals in your life!  If referrals aren’t yet working for you, contact me now, and I’ll let you in on a few of the ideas that have worked for me and countless others in my network of clients and colleagues.  No matter what strategy you implement, one technique is certain: ALWAYS be sure to keep REACHING…

Sandy

The GREAT Little Marketing Secret: Send a Note Card.

Thank clients for their business.  Thank them for referrals.  Remind them about their appointments.  And do each of these…with a handwritten note.  Find an excuse to send a note card to people you meet, people who provide services to you, and people who you serve.

We have all become so accustomed to communicating by email, text, and other electronic and social-media means that the lowly note card—handwritten, hand-addressed, hand-stamped, and delivered by “snail mail”—has actually become an item of immediate interest and delight when someone is shuffling through her junk mail or bills.

While there is a cost-factor, and a small amount of labor in selecting stationery, buying stamps, writing, and posting the card—not to mention tossing an occasional mistake into the trash—the potential rewards are great.

One of my clients—Peter, a financial advisor—was telling me a story about how he thought his light gray suit was ruined when someone spilled red wine in his lap at a networking event.  He was amazed that the Dry Cleaner was able to get the stain out entirely, leaving the suit as good as new.

“Send him a note, thanking him for getting the wine out,” I told him.

Peter protested that a handwritten note was overkill.  He had thanked the owner personally when he picked up the suit.

I explained to him that the owner probably received dozens of complaint letters each year—people sending letters to complain about damaged shirts and demanding reimbursement.  The seemingly outdated “Thank You” note, I told him, would surprise and flatter the owner and, in the long-term, help Peter’s business.  Peter was skeptical, but he sent the Thank You note, with one of his business cards enclosed.

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A week later, Peter called me, unable to hide the excitement in his voice.

“When I walked in with my shirts yesterday,” he started, “My note and the business card I enclosed were taped up on the wall near the counter.  The owner thanked me for my note and asked me about my business—something he’d never done in the three years I’ve been bringing my clothes to him.”

“But wait!” he exclaimed, “It gets better.  I told him what I did, using the audio billboard you helped me to develop, and he asked me if I’d be willing to talk with him about his situation.  And all because I sent him that note!”

Peter eventually started working with the Dry Cleaner, who turned out to have other businesses, and a significant amount of assets.

“It won’t always work like that,” I warned him during one of our later sessions, “But it will open doors for you if you keep doing it.”

Make it a point to write three note cards a week—to anyone you can think of, and for any reason.  Enclose a business card, and don’t be afraid to follow up when the opportunity arises by asking if your note was received.

You don’t need a note card to contact me for help.  However you go about it, reach out, and keep REACHING…

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P.S.  Peter sent me a handwritten note to thank me for helping him land this new client.  I was thrilled to receive it, and would be just as thrilled to refer him to anyone who needed his brand of help.

Learn This “Secret” from Victoria

“It seems like you’ve already got nearly as many clients as you can handle,” I declared to Victoria, a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) who had just started working with me.  “So, how can I help you?”

“Well, the truth is, Sandy, that none of them have any money,” she confided.

Victoria is 27 years old and has managed to grow her practice to its current level by giving terrific service to small retailers, most of whom are as young as she, and are either just starting out or within their first two years in business.

These clients are often struggling and can barely afford basic accounting services.  Invariably, after working with her, Victoria’s satisfied clients recommend her to their budding-entrepreneur friends.  While she is grateful for their loyalty, she is frustrated about starting work with still more struggling small-business owners.

I explained to Victoria that you can’t attract what you want into your life—clients or anyone or anything else—unless you have a clear picture of it that you can share with people.  “It’s hard for you to make the kind of living you want on these small clients,” I acknowledged, “but who do you want to take on as a client?”

Victoria thought for a moment and then replied.  “Well, I do like to work with ‘Mom and Pop’ business owners, but I wish I could be working with some that are larger and more established.” 

“Then tell your clients that that’s who you’re looking for,” I challenged.

“Just like that?” she asked.  “I don’t know…”

Two days later, Victoria called me.  With excitement rushing her words, she related a conversation she had had with one of her small-business clients just the day before:

“I was finishing up paperwork with Tom, and he told me he had recommended me to a friend of his who had just opened a deli.  So, I thanked him for the referral, but then I did what you told me to do.  I said ‘Tom, you know I always appreciate your faith in me and will always take good care of anyone you recommend me to, but I do my best work with people who already have bigger, more established businesses.’
Tom’s wife, Marie, happened to be walking by while I was explaining this and said, ‘Why don’t we send her to see my uncle?’  Well, Marie’s uncle owns a large, well-known furniture store the next town over.  And, I have an appointment to see him next week!”

Victoria’s accounts knew she wanted more clients, but they all thought she wanted more clients like them.  Victoria learned that people don’t know what you want until you tell them, and asking for what she wanted resulted in her landing exactly the kind of client she was hoping to reach.

If I can help you learn how to get more of what you want, contact me to talk about how we might work together.  I’ll let you know if your concerns would make you the type of client I can currently serve best.

Ask for what you need, and whether or not you get it right away, keep REACHING…

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Don’t Be EVERYthing to EVERYone…

To Whom Are You Offering/Selling Your Services?

The wrong answer to this question is “I offer my services to everyone”.  Financial advisors and coaches who tell me that they help [all] people reach [all of] their personal, career, or financial goals do not understand a critical truth about 21st Century business: clients want to work with experts and specialists.

If You’re Everything to Everyone…You Won’t Be Hired!

Instead, Become a Specialist.

If I want an insurance salesperson to handle an estate matter, and the cost isn’t significantly different to me, would I prefer an “estate planning specialist” or a professional who happens to sell life insurance?  The answer should be obvious.  Both advisors may have the same training and background—they may even have the same experience in estate planning—but one has narrowed his target and focus to make himself more appealing to me at this juncture.

“But if I limit myself to my senior market,” Tina, a financial advisor, complained when I introduced this concept to the group at a recent seminar, “I’ll turn off some younger people who might have wanted to use my services!”

Limit Your Target, Not Your Services

I asked Tina to trust in what I was saying and give it a try.  A week later she called me, excited by her results.  “Sandy, I tried what you suggested at a party last week and it worked, but I think it worked backwards,” she exclaimed.  “I told a guy in his mid-thirties (like me) that I work with single older women who are worried about having enough money for retirement…and he asked me if I would make an exception and help him out, too.  And then he hired me!”

“Tina, that isn’t backwards,” I told her.  “That’s exactly how it works.”

Being a specialist not only attracts your ideal client, it actually attracts people from other walks of life, as well.  I offer my assistance to professionals selling a service who want more clients.  But when someone who does not fit my marketing profile asks for my help, I only refuse him or her if I don’t want to work with that person right now (for any reason), or if I think there might be someone else who could do a better job with his or her issue.

So, along with owners of service businesses and their sales and marketing teams, I coach managers who are climbing the corporate ladder, and IT professionals who are looking for a permanent position.  Not long ago, I even worked with an entertainer who was breaking into her newly chosen field after closing out her first career.  I’m an expert in the problems of people who are struggling to grow their businesses or practices, but I’ll help anyone who is serious about making his or her life or career better.

If I can help you narrow your target, contact me, and we’ll work on making you stand out from the crowd.  And when someone asks you what do YOU do?, you won’t be afraid to identify your favorite type of client or work.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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NEEDY IS CREEPY!!!

A few years ago, my fellow coach, Rich Litvin, decided to try speed dating.  About a month after his first experience, he went to a second speed-dating event, where he ran into another guy who he recognized from the first event.

“Did you get many dates from the first one?” the man asked him.

“Three,” Rich replied.

“Oh!” the man exclaimed.  “Well, how many women’s names did you select on the list?”

“Three”, Rich replied.  “Why?  How many dates did you get?”

“Not a single one,” the man admitted with a scowl.

“Well, how many women’s names did you check off on the list?” Rich asked him.

“ALL OF THEM!” the man replied, his scowl turning into a look of deep frustration.

“Needy is creepy,” coach and author Steve Chandler tells his clients when they are baffled by why they are not getting more appointments.

As in the speed-dating example, if you are too eager, a prospective client will get the sense that he or she is just one more person you’re trying to sell something to—and nobody who senses that is going to accept your request for a “date”.

I like to say that your need—for an appointment, for a sale, or for a referral—is the ugliest thing you can show a client.  (A wise-guy branch manager I know once supplemented that statement by saying, “Yeah, that, or a butt crack.”)

You may be desperate for an appointment or a sale, but prospective clients all have their internal receivers tuned into station WII-FM (What’s In It For Me).  They won’t start working with you because you need a client.  They’ll work with you because they need something that you might be able to give them.

If you want more appointments, you need to stop looking—and acting—as if just ANYONE will do.  Here are some suggestions that will help you develop the kind of targeted laser focus you really need to get more (and better) clients:

1. Get clear on whom you’d like to serve, what they need that you can offer, and what result they’ll get from working with you.  The speed-dater in Rich’s story was interested in EVERY woman who attended the event, and as a result, NONE of them were interested in him.  Prospects are no different; everyone wants to feel special.

2. Stop talking about you and what you do and focus on learning about others.  When you are introduced to someone or meet her at some event, do as Dale Carnegie would have advised: Be impressed, not impressive.

3. Target people who are ideal clients and invite them to talk with you.  If you’re clear about whom you want to work with, you may already know of individuals who could be great prospects.  Find out their information and contact them directly, or through your existing clients or professional network.

4. Don’t call a prospect unless you’ve already made an effort to learn something about him.  While I view cold calling as a last resort for most professionals, even if your calls tend to be “warm”, you need to make sure you’ve found out about the person you’re dialing before you pick up the phone.  Use Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and use the people you know already to help you learn about your prospects before you reach out to them.

5. Most importantly, SERVE, don’t SELL.  If there’s something you believe you can do to help a prospect, offer it with passion.  If not, be honest, and let her walk away—or, better still, you do the walking, and keep on looking for a better fit.

I help advisors who have had some success—but feel stuck in a rut—grab onto the prizes that seem just beyond their grasp.  If you think I can help you, find the courage to contact me.  In the meantime, be selective, but keep 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…

CONNECT…BUILD RAPPORT…OFFER YOUR HELP

“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>>>>BUILD RAPPORT>>>>OFFER YOUR HELP

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…

DRAW Them a REFERRAL DIAGRAM!

“I found a new way to talk with clients about referring me,” Ryan, a financial advisor, once told me excitedly on the phone.  “I use a diagram!  I’ll show it to you.”

Ryan emailed me a little while later with this:

Of course, I was interested, and I called him back right away to have him explain how it worked.

“First, I draw a circle in the center of a yellow pad, where you see the ‘Joe W’, representing the client,” he started.

“Then,” he continued, “I draw circles surrounding the first circle for people they’ve already referred to me.  I thank them for the ones that worked out and tell them that these referrals are happy; I also point out the ones that didn’t work out, explaining how it just wasn’t right for whatever reason.”

“Finally,” Ryan exclaimed, “I ask them who’s missing from the chart!  I say, ‘Who haven’t we talked about yet?’”

Ryan told me that the client at the center of this drawing, Joe, looked at the chart and said to him, “I wonder why we never talked about my niece, Barbara, and her husband.”  He gestured to the open circles on the page.  “Add Barbara in there.”

Ryan was very proud of his piece of “referral technology”—and so was I!  I went on to suggest to him that any time a client or prospective client volunteers information, his next response should be a magical question—either “who else?” or “what else?”  Once Joe volunteered Barbara, for instance, a “who else” could identify another person for Joe and Ryan to discuss, and with whom Ryan could go on to arrange an appointment.  Asking  “who else?” again might have brought to light a third—and then even a fourth—potential client for Ryan.

Most professionals are terrified of the referral conversation and they either avoid it entirely or approach it so awkwardly that it doesn’t end up working for them at all.

Tim, one of my current clients, told me earlier this week that he was uncomfortable “switching” from being a professional to asking for referrals.  The goal, I told him, is to be a professional while asking for referrals.  There shouldn’t be a difference.  If you’re helping someone by providing a service, why not offer the same service to someone else in his or her life who might also really need your help?

If you have your own method of talking about introductions or referrals that works for you, please share it with me, and with the other professionals in your life!  If referrals aren’t yet working for you, contact me now, and I’ll let you in on a few of the tricks and tips that have worked for me and countless others in my network of clients and colleagues.  No matter what strategy you implement, one technique is certain: ALWAYS be sure to keep REACHING…

How NOT to Succeed in Business

I consulted last week with a financial advisor I’ll call Alex, who had two concerns: (1) He was feeling “overwhelmed”, and (2) he was not happy that his income was “inconsistent”.  2012 would be a great year for him, he told me, if he could only solve these two problems.

I learned that Alex had about a hundred clients who were more than just “customers” to him.  I also learned that the way Alex ran his business was that he would go through a slow period for a while, during which he would schedule to host a local educational workshop.  He would then conduct the workshop and make immediate appointments with all of the attendees who were interested in speaking with him further.  He’d have two weeks during which he was working every minute of the day and long into the night scheduling new clients, and then, he’d go back to his slow period.  His income would balloon after the workshop, and two weeks later, it would all but disappear.

While there were a lot of ways Alex might have been able smooth out his inconsistent income—by setting up a reserve for when income was ballooning, by holding workshops more regularly, or by spreading out the appointments his workshops generated over a longer period of time—I was curious why he was doing outreach at all if, as he claimed, he was already advising a hundred clients.  Why wasn’t he servicing those clients—helping them in every conceivable way?  Why wasn’t he servicing them so well that they were excited and enthusiastic about sharing the opportunities he had brought to them with their friends and family members.

“I service them,” he responded defensively, but then he added:

“Well, maybe not enough.  I know I should be doing annual reviews with some of them, and I haven’t been doing a good job of that.”

It was clear to me that Alex didn’t need to do more outreach to improve the consistency of his income.  He needed to provide better service to his clients.  Better service might or might not bring him more income from the same clients, but it would certainly earn him the right to be introduced to their friends and family members who could use his help.

I talked to Alex about the concept of Serve, Surprise, and Delight.

“Let’s make a list of your top ten favorite clients,” I coached him.  “How can you serve them beyond what you’ve done for them so far—both in terms of services you provide and in terms of services they might need from others within your network of contacts?”

“I know what you’re trying to get me to do,” Alex responded.  “I’ve tried just focusing on my existing clients in the past, and it just doesn’t work.  It’s a waste of time.  I need to do workshops to get ‘fresh meat’.”

It was obvious that there was nothing I could do for Alex.  The most bizarre aspect of our discussion to me was that Alex wanted the income consistency so he could focus on the volunteer work he does helping people spiritually.  He felt fulfilled serving people in that way, but didn’t want to do the same sort of service within his business.

The best way to grow most service businesses is to turn your existing clients and the people you know into referral partners.  The best way to create referral partners is to serve your existing clients at such a high level that it makes them eager to tell everyone they care for stories about how brilliantly you’re serving them.

Alex knows how not to succeed in his business—by continuing to scramble, instead of to serve, surprise, and delight his current clients.  He will undoubtedly continue to be overwhelmed and have inconsistent income until he understands this foundational fault and seeks out the help he needs to put the opposite into action.

If you understand the importance of creating referral partners and are ready for help in doing it, contact me today.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

Slowww Down

“I saw an old client last night in a tavern over a burger and beer,” a financial advisor I’m working with told me.  “He picked the spot.”

“One hour of life talk and B.S. and a laugh or two—plus five short minutes of business in the parking lot at the end—and I sold him $4,000 of Long Term Care premium.  Hah!  And he has family members that sell insurance.”

“Want to know why I got that sale?” he continued.  “Know why?  ‘Slowww down’ I kept hearing…The little voice in my head from you, Sandy.”

Most people who sell services of any kind make the same mistake: They speed through their careers without fostering the deeper connections that will actually get them all the business they can handle.

I may have fifty clients already, and while I’m rushing to send out mailings, network, call people from targeted lists, blog, “like”, and “tweet” every day, all day long, in an effort to attract new clients, I’m missing the fact that those loyal fifty just may be my best source for new business and leads.

This advisor was used to being extremely busy doing all the WRONG WORK, instead of focusing on the clients he already had.

“What if someone passed a law that said you could only have one client for the rest of your life, and you would have to make all your income from this one client?” author Steve Chandler asked Ben, his own client, and later recounted for his book, TIME WARRIOR.  “What would you do?”

Ben, a speaker, had booked a talk with one client company and was now frantically prospecting to find more to work with—without much success.

“Ben and I began to list the many other ways he would love to serve that company,” Chandler details.  “He wrote a list of people in the company he wanted to go visit prior to his talk, to gather research on the many problems and challenges Ben could help them with.”

“Two weeks later,” he concludes, “Ben had converted a $3,000 one-time speaking contract into a full-year program with more than twenty times that income.”

Prospecting for clients is one area wherein there is a need to slow down.  Another such area is interacting with current or prior clients face-to-face.

Another financial advisor asked me to come along on a couple of appointments with him as an “associate” (something I’ve done hundreds of times) to observe his interactions with his clients.  The frequency with which clients or prospects actually engaged his services was making him unhappy—it was far too seldom.

It only took a few minutes for me to figure out his problem: As soon as there was the slightest hint that someone might need his services, he pounced—offering a solution to meet the need.  Then, the person’s instinctive reaction was to say to him, “Let me think about it,” which might be translated as: “Back off!”

For this advisor, slowing down meant asking more questions to develop the need into something larger and more urgent, or otherwise, to let it go.

Neil Rackham, in his classic book, SPIN Selling, tells us to go from the question that may have unearthed an implied need to “Situation Questions”, which will move the need from implied to explicit, before offering to solve a problem.  But if you’re speeding through to close on a sale, you’re certainly not making the client or prospect feel as though you’ve fully assessed the situation.

The resolution for this advisor’s problem was simple: Slowww down, and focus on your clients in a way that will best serve them.  Take your time to explore the depths of their needs by giving yourselves permission to really talk—and maybe even share a laugh or two.

I’m sometimes just as guilty of speeding aimlessly through time, and I have a coach to make sure that I slow down and focus.  If you reach out to me, I can help you in the same way.

All the while, keep REACHING…

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