I thought I’d share an e-mail I received recently from an attorney who attended one of my programs…
I am a corporate attorney. At a recent event for alumni of my college, I met an alumnus, George, who had started a company with a partner and was looking for an attorney to help him with several matters on a retainer basis. We had a great conversation. George told me he was impressed with my enthusiasm, and set up a call to have me meet his partner on the phone. While after speaking with them both, I had some reservations about working with the partner, they signed a retainer agreement and gave me credit card information, which I processed.
Under our agreement, either party could cancel at any time, but if the client cancelled without good cause, a certain minimum amount would be due. As we were in the process of choosing an appointment for our first discussion of one of the issues I was going to be handling for them, George called me to say they wanted to cancel, telling me that they had money issues and had been able to resolve some of the issues we were going to work on by themselves. He asked for the full fee back.
My problem is that I’m reluctant to simply let him and his partner out without at least keeping the minimum fee, as agreed. I incurred merchant fees and I put time into talking with them both and preparing to deal with our first issue. Then, there’s the precedent. And, frankly, I’ve already spent the money and now it will be coming out of my own pocket.
Give them back their money, in full. While minimum fee/cancellation fee agreements are not uncommon, the loss of good will from insisting on the minimum fee–or even holding back the credit card processing charges–will eventually impact your business negatively.
Maybe their emotional intelligence told them that you wouldn’t be happy working with George’s partner. Or maybe what George told you was the truth. Either way, this is a classic case of “Buyer’s Remorse.” It happens to everyone who sells anything, including legal services. The sale moves quickly, the buyer is caught up in the seller’s enthusiasm (but may not have established a sufficient amount of his own enthusiasm), there’s an agreement, and then, when the buyer is alone, the doubts creep in and he wants to back out.
Give them back the money and tell them that when they are ready, you’d like to talk again. Ask them if they know someone who could use your help right now, given that you set aside time to work on their matters.
To minimize the occurrence of Buyer’s Remorse in the future, consider these ideas:
- Focus your “sales” conversation on questions that foster a prospective client’s independent enthusiasm for working with you–and on determining, authentically, whether this is really a good fit. Get so deep into their situation with your questions that they feel compelled to retain you to get help with their issues.
- Take the credit card information and set up the first appointment on the spot for as soon as possible. If it can be done, set up a complete schedule.
- Give them homework. Get the giving of value started immediately.
- Finally, hold the credit card for a few days before processing the payment. That way, if despite doing everything I’ve suggested, the client does back out, you don’t incur any costs.
Take your need out of your client relationships from the very beginning, and those relationships will grow stronger. Then, keep REACHING…
My friend and colleague, coach and author Steve Chandler, recently wrote this:
“Most people try to move toward wealth in embarrassing, clumsy ways. They have cynicism programmed into them from an early age. So they want a course called Manipulate and Grow Rich, or Network and Grow Rich or Win People Over and Grow Rich.”
“They see companies like Apple, Amazon, Nordstrom, Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines, and Google, and they think ‘I need a big, clever idea like that!’ or ‘I need diabolically opportunistic branding and positioning!’ When that doesn’t work, then they think it’s time to suck up to powerful people…polish some apples and lick some boots! Why? Because it’s Who You Know that makes you rich!”
“Yet all the while, there is a spirit that runs through all radical wealth creation…and we’ll keep it simple by calling it service. All the individuals and companies I have worked with in the past 30 years revealed to me this underlying truth: wealth comes from profound service.”
If you’re working on your Business Plan for 2014, make sure it includes serving your clients profoundly. If it does, this will be a great year for you.
To get specific, here are a few of Steve’s (and my) tips:
1. Stop Pleasing and Start Serving. As children, we are conditioned to please. “Were you a good girl, today?” Daddy asked, and what he meant was: Were you sweet, passive, obedient and not too vocal about your opinions? Never did we hear him ask: “Were you bold and powerful?” Or, “Were you courageous?”
Adults were the people with the money and power. If we pleased them, we’d get that ice cream or that allowance. As a result, too many of us learned to default to pleasing. We want our clients to think we’ve been a good little boy or girl, so if we think there will be resistance to what we believe serves them best, we choose what will please them instead of what we believe they should do or have.
If we served instead pleasing, we would astonish our clients, instead of simply being “a nice guy”. We would be making a real difference in another person’s life.
2. Create Agreements, Not Expectations. We become anxious because a client or prospect hasn’t done what we think they “should have” done. Expectations belong in the recycle bin, along with ideas like a “no” answer being a rejection. To fully serve and grow rich, you don’t need those anymore. In fact, they will slow you down and give you a life of disappointment—even causing nagging and persistent feelings of betrayal.
If you want a client to do something, create an agreement. Agreements serve because they are creative collaborations that honor both people. They are like a co-written song. Expectations, on the other hand, live and grow in us like cancer. Nothing good can come from them.
3. Don’t tell a client she’s wrong. Proving that your client’s or prospect’s view or understanding about the world is wrong—no matter how ridiculous her opinion might be—is not serving.
Listen for the value in what she is saying before you respond. Recognize the merit, and acknowledge that you see it. Agree with the “objection” rather than trying to overcome it with a humiliating argument. Instead, agree with her, and find a way to “reframe” how she’s seeing it.
“I understand that you don’t believe in life insurance, and if I saw it the way you’ve explained you do, I wouldn’t believe in it either. What I do believe in is making sure my family has money at the most critical time that I won’t be able to help. If we didn’t call it ‘life insurance’, wouldn’t that be something you’d want your family to have?”
Make 2014 the year of profound service, and it’s bound to be your best. In the meantime, keep REACHING…
If you’re like most people, you found yourself juggling all of the things you had to do this past month, including social obligations and gifts galore, and you may have left someone very important off of your list by mistake…YOU! If you could have anything in 2014, what would it be? And why don’t you have it yet?
When we don’t have what we want, we tell ourselves stories about why we don’t. These stories usually involve our circumstances: Not enough time, not enough money, not enough education, the wrong kind of education, etc. Or, they involve the people in our lives: Friends who don’t understand us, spouses who are overbearing, children who are demanding, sick parents, etc., etc., etc.
I often upset my workshop attendees and clients by calling the people or circumstances we blame for holding us back exactly what they are—excuses. Not having money, time, or training may make getting what you want more difficult, but people whose circumstances are far worse than yours have overcome these obstacles by the sheer force of their commitment.
A simple “resolution” you can keep this month is to commit to giving yourself an hour’s worth of time to figure out what you want and what’s keeping you from having it. During that time, ask yourself these Five Questions as part of a “SWOT” Analysis:
1. If you and I were to meet three years from now, what is the absolute minimum that will have to have happened in order to allow you to say your life is terrific?
2. What strengths do you already have that you could leverage to get you there?
3. What weaknesses will you have to acknowledge?
4. What opportunities can you take advantage of that will help you along the way?
5. What are the hardships and obstacles you’ll need to overcome to get to that point?
If you do this analysis before the end of the month, you can make plans you will keep for the New Year. Make time for yourself, and you’ll be able to maintain your holiday spirit all year round, even as you work hard to keep REACHING…
Mehdi achieved his success despite starting out with a severely limited grasp of the English language and American customs. Now, at the top of his industry, he is famous throughout the world—with a following in over forty countries. A Chinese admirer changed his own first name to Mehdi, and at least one other inspired insurance agent gave that name to his son.
At an Insurance Pro Shop seminar a few years ago, I had the honor of being asked to speak alongside Mehdi and the renowned publicist Wally Cato. Here are some of the Lessons I learned from Master Mehdi that day:
1. Doing the right thing for your clients results in more business and referrals. Mehdi does not attribute his success to any skill of his own—he believes it is his karmic reward for giving what he can to everyone he comes into contact with. His belief in this regard, and how it humbles him, shines through him as he speaks.
2. Love what you do. Mehdi told his audience that selling insurance is his hobby. He is up at 4 a.m. eager to start his day and doesn’t stop until his wife calls him to tell him to come home for dinner.
3. Be prepared to give them what they ask for, but always show them what you believe they should have. Mehdi talked about how he increases the size of his sales, and helps clients at the same time, by presenting insurance policies at signing time for amounts greater than what he had previously discussed with them.
“They always try to buy less than they should,” he told his audience. “I present to them what they really should have, and often, they agree when they see it.”
4. Make them clients first. “What do you do when a client doesn’t want what you believe is right for him?” a workshop attendee asked. “I give him what he does want, of course,” was Mehdi’s reply. But he continued:
“I wait two or three years [until we have a good relationship and my client trusts me],” he explained, “And then I show him a chart that has on the left side what he bought, and on the right side, what I believed was right for him. I ask him which plan looks better now…and he always points to the one on the right.”
None of this can happen, Mehdi told his audience, unless the person in question becomes a client first.
5. Never give up! A consistent theme in everything Mehdi spoke about was his persistence. “Whenever there is a problem,” he told his audience, “I sit down and create a solution. There’s always a solution.”
6. Talk “Nonsense”. That’s what Mehdi calls his delightful way of engaging people in conversation.
“If I’m going up in an elevator and I push ‘4’, and the other man pushes ‘8’, I say, ‘You must be twice as good as me’. When he asks me why I say that, I tell him that 8 is twice as good as 4.”
Mehdi reminded his audience that day that it makes people feel good when you’re having fun. As further proof that Mehdi walks his talk, he invited me to spend an afternoon with him at his office to pick his brain, and bought us lunch at his favorite Chinese restaurant—asking nothing in return.
Give first, talk small, and think big—and contact me for help with doing the right thing. Love what you do, and keep REACHING…
After two visits—a total of six hours—advisor Marianne had gotten an enthusiastic “thumbs up” from her new “almost clients”—a young professional couple with small children—to prepare a financial plan for them. The plan would specifically include some much-needed life insurance. There was no doubt the mission was going forward!
But a few days later, just before Marianne’s scheduled return with her specific proposal, the couple called to tell her they had decided to hold off on doing anything.
“I needed that sale,” Marianne complained to me during our coaching session.
“And that’s probably why you lost it,” I responded.
Our need is the ugliest thing we can show prospective clients. If they believe that your need to make money is more important than your delivery of the service they would be hiring you to do, they’ll back away. Retaining you or buying what you have to offer has to be their idea, not yours.
Blake, an attorney in Michigan, wrote me last week about his problem in getting prospective clients to engage his services.
“I find out what their situation is,” he writes, “and then I explain very carefully what I’ll be doing for them.”
“Then they ask about price. I tell them my hourly rate, which is competitive, but they say they want to think about it…and then, I don’t hear from them again.”
Professionals like Blake often don’t spend enough time developing a relationship with their clients, customers, or patients. They know their work. They know how to diagnose problems, and they know what the most likely solutions are. But they don’t know what their prospective clients really need: someone to hear them out; sympathy, empathy, and validation.
Here are some suggestions that might help you “close” more clients:
1. Ask more and better questions. “Situational” questions are essential for you in order to enable you to do your work, but they have relatively low value to a prospective client who already knows his or her own situation.
How does the situation make him or her feel? Why does he/she feel that way? What result would this person like to get from working with you? How will that make him/her feel better?
These kinds of questions don’t necessarily add any information to your business stats, but they help you to create a bond with your new client.
2. Find out if they’re committed to change before you talk about fees. Ask if she’s receiving value from the discussion and if she has any questions for you. Ask if she’d be interested in working with someone who could alter her status quo.
3. Find out what is causing them to hesitate. If he says, “Let me think about it,” find out what he agrees with and narrow down what his concerns are. Does he have reservations about your abilities? Is he looking for a better price? It’s okay—and important—to ask these questions.
If you want more clients to say “yes” and stick to it, start by making sure you spend the time to ask compelling questions, and base the solution you offer directly on their answers. Whether it’s in asking for the sale or asking for introductions, make it about them—not about your need.
Be sure to check out my recent interview on entrepreneurship, sales, and success at Letsmote.com!
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.
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…
(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
In this article, I’ll focus on the first of these skills:
1. The ability to ask provocative questions. If you’ve found that your prospective clients (we’ll call them “prospects”) are backing away, it is likely that you have made the common mistake of cutting the questioning process short. You may have jumped to the solution you provide too early. If you’re like most professionals, before talking about your services, you do ask informational questions—who, what, where, when, how, and why. While you need this information to understand how you can help your prospects, it is more valuable to you than it is to them. Your prospects already have this information! Situational questions are more likely to help you get to the bottom of your prospects’ deeper needs.
Sometimes, your simple informational questions will bring up a relevant concern—maybe even one that a prospect didn’t know he or she had. Maybe the prospect is already working with someone in your field and is having some problems with that relationship, or with the results he/she is getting.
Well, there they are: problems! And that’s what we do, isn’t it? We solve problems. So, we’re done here, right? Isn’t it time to move on, and into the solution?
As soon as you identify this little bit of trouble in Paradise, you may want to pounce with your offer of services…but if you do, more often than not, your prospect will start squirming. Here’s an example of a conversation my client, Lisa, a financial advisor, experienced with a prospect who had already been working with another advisor:
Lisa: So, you haven’t heard from him in over a year and he didn’t return your call the last time you tried to reach him? He also hasn’t explained any of these things we’ve been talking about today, right? It sounds like you’re not getting the service you need from him. I can promise you that I’ll check in with you once a quarter and I always return calls immediately. How about we go ahead and transfer your accounts…
Prospect: You know, actually, I’ve been working with this guy for almost eight years. I think I should try to talk to him again first and, if he doesn’t return my call, I can get back to you.
One reason this conversation may have ended as it did—with the prospect’s objection—is that the problem Lisa identified is also one that she had to imply. Your prospects are always weighing whether their need for change is explicit and urgent enough for it to be worth their while to do all the work required to make that change.
When there’s only a vague sense of a problem, the scale tips in favor of leaving things as they are. To avoid running into a brick wall, you need to move from implied problems to explicit problems. And you can only get your prospects to see explicit problems by asking more [situational] questions first.
Here’s how Lisa learned to handle her next conversation, after working with me on asking better questions:
Lisa: So you haven’t heard from him in over a year and he didn’t return your call the last time you tried to reach him? He also hasn’t explained any of these things we’ve been talking about today, right? How is this level of service affecting you?
Prospect: It’s a little annoying that he doesn’t return my calls, but I guess I’m doing okay.
Lisa: Does it worry you that there’s no one reassuring you about your retirement, or letting you know the status of your accounts?
Prospect: Well, actually, that’s the reason I agreed to sit down with you. I am concerned that there might be more I should be doing, or that I might need to change my strategy.
Lisa: And if you try him again, and maybe he responds this time, but doesn’t respond again the next time you have a concern, will that be okay?
Prospect: Well, no. I need to feel like someone is watching out for me. Maybe my account is just too small for him.
Lisa: Well, how small is it? What’s at stake here?
Prospect: I mean, this is my life savings we’re talking about!
Lisa: Yes, it is. So, I guess the only question is, does it make more sense for you to wait and see what happens with this guy—or to start working with someone who definitely has availability for you, and does not think your life savings is “no big deal”?
Prospect: I probably shouldn’t wait around to be disappointed again. Can you tell me more about how you work?…
Next week, I’ll discuss the second skill for getting clients: the ability to actively listen. In the meantime, keep REACHING…
“When you don’t know what to do next in the process of trying to get a prospective client to hire you,” I told a group of professionals recently, “do what you do best: ask a question.”
A hand went up. “Any question?” asked Ben, a very young-looking financial advisor.
“That was a good question,” I replied, and the group chuckled.
Then, an experienced litigation attorney, Natalie, asked me specifically about what to do when you’ve explained everything to a prospect and you hear those dreaded words—“Let me think about it…”.
“Well, what do you do now when someone says that to you?” I asked Natalie.
“My usual response,” she replied, “is something like, ‘Sure, take your time. When do you want me to check back with you?'” “But,” Natalie complained, “once they leave, they usually don’t respond to my calls, and I’ve lost them.”
“Let me think about it” is a statement that can mean anything:??”I’m not sure about your approach.”?”You haven’t convinced me that your firm is the best one to handle this problem.”?”I’m not happy with your fees and costs.”?”Maybe if ignore my problem, it will just go away.”
As a result, you can’t do much with the statement unless you understand what it means to the person who spoke it. A good response here, once again, involves questions. So, it might look something like this:
Great! This is an important decision and you should definitely think about it. Let me see if I can help you, though:
Are you unsure about the approach I explained? Do you think there might be a better solution??Are you not convinced that we’re the right firm to handle your needs??Is there any issue with the fees we discussed??Is there someone else you need to involve in the decision-making process? Do you agree that you need to start taking care of this right away?
“Your questions will eliminate the non-issues one-by-one, and you’ll find out exactly what your prospect needs to think about,” I told the group. “Then, you can ask more questions about whatever his particular concern happens to be and make sure you’ve satisfied him—if satisfying him is at all possible.”
“At that point, you can ask him again if he wants to get started,” I concluded. “Does that answer your question, Natalie?”
“I don’t know,” she replied, “let me think about it.”
I can help you get more clients and feel more motivated, but you need to reach out and ask. Start with good questions, and keep REACHING…
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Have you ever been aggravated trying to prove to some “nitwit” prospect that his objection to your offer makes no sense—so aggravated, in fact, that you ended up in an argument with him and, of course, ended all possibilities of ever making him a client?
Why was it so important for you to be right?
When she was little, my daughter Madi used to argue with me constantly.
“No, Daddy, you’re wrong! My teacher told me…”
No matter how misguided she was, she expended exhausting amounts of energy insisting that she was right. I tried to teach her to say, “Maybe you’re right, Daddy, and maybe you’re wrong,” and then follow up with something like, “Let’s see if we can find out”—but it seldom worked.
Then, one day, I just decided to practice what I was preaching with her. I stopped trying to be right.
When she insisted that her misinformation was correct, I responded with, “I never knew that!” or, “I always thought it was the other the way around, but I guess I was wrong.” The result? No more arguments, and a lot more peace.
Yesterday, I watched a friendly conversation between two people at a fast food restaurant in a local mall turn into an argument. The two men had begun to talk about global warming, and one of them was insisting that it was all “a lot of bunk”.
Each man was busy trying to prove that he was right and the other was wrong. What struck me was how easily the interaction had gone from casual to hostile. The conversation became so loud and abusive that an employee of the restaurant had to ask them to leave.
Who was right? What difference did it make if they could not agree? Arguments don’t happen unless someone needs to prove another wrong. What if we could let go of this need—especially when dealing with prospective clients?
When your prospect is objecting, even if the objection is absurd, don’t disagree. You won’t change his mind—and instead, you will alienate him entirely.
Try starting out with something like, “I can see how you might think that…” and then pose a question that might get him thinking further.
“I don’t need any more insurance,” he might say.
“You’re probably right,” you can respond—without argument—although it’s obvious to you that he’s grossly underinsured and may be leaving his family in a catastrophic position. “Can I ask what you’re basing that on?”
“I just know we have enough,” he might reply.
“Well, just in case, would you be open to going through a simple exploration with me to see if you’re missing any coverage you could really use?”
Let go of the need to prove you are right from the get-go. Your life will be much less stressful, and your business will grow. But if you can’t yet stand the thought of letting someone who is dead wrong get away with it, the right choice is to contact me for some help with your perspective. In the meantime, keep REACHING…
Many of you declared your employment independence some time ago. You walked out of your jobs and into professions of your own. Now, you would call the shots.
But when the pride and excitement settled, one of the first things you may have noticed is that your business lives could be lonely. And you still wanted to rely on those around you for all kinds of support—and validation—when there were tough decisions to be made.
Unfortunately, when you needed advice on growing or sustaining your practices, you couldn’t ask the employees who depend on you for a living, because your decisions might have impacted them. Or, a subject matter could have been sensitive for other reasons. Your employees might have figured out, for instance, that you, the owner, were clueless about what was going to happen next.
As an entrepreneur, your burning questions can’t be presented to friends or family, either. Friends don’t generally have a clear enough understanding of your work goals in order to help. Spouses, parents, or siblings might serve as sounding boards, but like friends, although they genuinely care about you, they also have their limitations, and often, their own agendas.
Your husband genuinely wants you to make that huge career move to Texas, but deep down, he is also worried about the impact that relocation will have on his own career. Your friends are genuinely excited that you’ve started to earn significant money, but deep down, they are also worried that if you continue to grow, you may grow apart from them. Your parents, children, and others may want the best for you, but often, they will also be concerned that big changes will have some sort of negative impact—not just on them, but on you, as well.
So, when you ask, they give you their best, most caring advice, but it tends to conclude with something like, “If I were you, all things considered, I wouldn’t do it, because it could turn out to be a disaster.”
Imagine you’re a chiropractor who makes up your mind one day that you’re ready to give up your practice, because you are passionate about and tremendously skilled at golf, and you know you can turn pro and make a great living. Will your wife of fifteen years have an agenda of her own when you arrive home to share the joyful news?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fictional character Ray Kinsella, whose family tried to discourage his far-out dream of building a baseball field. But in real life, several years ago, my client Amanda’s well-meaning family members tried to dissuade her from opening her own business. They wanted her to be successful and happy, but their agenda was to blindly protect her from getting hurt. Had she listened to them, she never would have launched her hugely successful telemarketing practice.
Last year, Jeanie, a 28-year old financial advisor, consulted me after a heated argument with her parents, who wanted her to leave her poor-paying “commission only” profession and get a “real job”. By this year, Jeanie was earning a healthy six-figure income in the same commission-based career to which she had committed, despite the adversity.
“It’s a little disconcerting,” she confessed to me during our last phone session, “But I’m now earning annually more than both my parents ever did, combined!”
Don’t ask the people you care about for business advice—unless they’re in that business and have nothing to gain or lose in your decision. A coach is one of the only people that owners and independent professionals can turn to whose agenda is theirs. If there’s something you want, my job is to help you get it, and not to hold you back.
If you must keep asking those other people for career encouragement, stop listening to their answers. Contact me today to start making plans to accomplish whatever you desire, and keep REACHING…