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referrals

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

Boo! Serve, Surprise, and Delight

Growing a practice or a business is way easier than most professionals and service entrepreneurs make it out to be.

Their problem is that they’ve been taught that they need to be frantically and furiously networking, buying and then contacting members off of “hot lists”, writing press releases and making public appearances, and bombarding social media outlets to get their brands “out there”.

All of these practices may have some value, but the most powerful and too often overlooked way to grow a professional practice or service business is to focus first on the clients you already have.  You do this by serving them with all of your ability and in every way you can, and by surprising and delighting them along the way.

If you make your interactions with your past and existing clients as powerful as they can be, they will want to tell stories of their interactions with you to other people.  Fiercely loyal working relationships begin with providing unparalleled service.

SERVE

Great service starts with making “good lemonade”.  In his now-out-of-print 1998 children’s book, Good Lemonade, author Frank Asch tells the story of a boy who starts out with a busy lemonade stand because he offers a better price (with lots of discounts) than his competitor, the boy up the street.

The boy up the street is charging more for the lemonade at his stand.  As the summer days roll on, however, the higher-priced competitor is becoming busier and busier, and fewer people are coming to the less expensive stand.

In the end, our little boy visits his competitor’s stand and learns that the lemonade there is simply much better than his.

How’s your lemonade?  Are you giving your current and past clients enough personal contact?  Are you serving them in every way you can?  Are you doing your best job for them?  These are the minimum standards for great service.

SURPRISE AND DELIGHT

Clients tell stories about you when you do special things to show you care, such as:

~Calling them on their birthdays
~Knowing when their anniversaries are and surprising them with timely gifts
~Sending them articles or books that you know they’ll find interesting or helpful
~Bringing their kids face-painting kits on Halloween or pies on Thanksgiving
~Remembering their favorite flavors of ice cream
~Bringing chew toys for their pets
~Stopping by or calling for no reason at all—just to see how they’re doing.

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In my past life as a lawyer, I would arrive at a real estate closing with a bottle of champagne for my clients and present it to them when all the papers were signed and the money had finally changed hands.  Not only did I delight my clients—who came back to me again for other reasons and who referred their friends and associates to me—but sometimes I also delighted the people on the other side of the transaction, who would hire me the next time around.  Was it just so they could get a bottle of champagne at their closing, or had they seen how well I worked with my clients all along?

I remember one realtor saying, I should have thought of that!”  (And she should have.)

If going out of your way like this seems too much to fathom, remember that there’s a huge difference between doing things so that your clients will think you’re “a nice person”, and doing things to acknowledge and value your clients as human beings—to thank them for their continued relationship with you.

Make an effort not only to serve, but to surprise and delight your best clients, and they will tell stories about you to their friends and associates.  Those listeners may just want to have good stories to tell about their service provider, as well—and they’ll know where to find one the next time around.

Learn to send chills with your spookily-good service, and keep REACHING…

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Register for My Webinar Today!

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Take advantage of my 17 years of experience working with financial and insurance advisors at all levels by attending my webinar: How to Triple Your Qualified Leads in 30 Days

If you want more clients with less stress and without spending a lot of money, you’ll want to tune in NOW!

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And don’t forget to join us for our PowerMinutes Coffee Break!

TODAY, November 1st
And every Tuesday at 10 AM Eastern.

Get answers to your questions about prospecting, sales, marketing, time management, practice management and more.

Just grab your brew and come to http://sandyschussel.com/conference

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Want more info?  Email issues?  Please, contact me here!

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Make Referrals About THEM

Anita, an advisor in her mid-thirties, was terrified about talking with her clients about introducing her to friends and family members who might need her help.

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“What are you afraid might happen if you talk to them about introducing you to the people they care about?” I asked her.

“Well, I don’t know…,” she began. “Maybe they’re going to think I’m needy and have to beg for clients.  And they’re going to get all awkward and tell me they can’t think of anyone, because they’re not going to want to bother their friends.  It’s happened to me before.”

“If you make it about you–about your need for clients–you’re probably right,” I explained, Your need is about the ugliest thing you can show a client.”

“But if you make it about the people they care about–family, friends, people they work with,” I continued, “you’ll be less awkward, and they’ll be more receptive.”

Referrals are an excellent way to grow virtually any professional practice or service business.  In a practice like Anita’s, where the service is very personal, referrals are often the best way.  Surveys in several industries show that most people would prefer to be introduced to a provider, rather than to respond to an ad or an internet search, and talking with your clients about introducing you to someone who might need your help gives them an opportunity to be a hero–to make a difference in the life of someone they care about.

So while referrals will definitely benefit you, they also benefit your clients and the people they refer you to.  The solution is to stop asking for referrals–an act that may be awkward because it’s all about you–and start asking your clients to help the people they care about by introducing you to them.  Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I provide excellent service to my clients?

2. Do my clients have people in their lives who might need that service?

3. Do I deserve to be the one to help those people?

If the answer to all three of these questions is “yes”, start talking to your clients constantly about introducing you to the people in their lives who might need your help.

Keep REACHING…

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Put Referrals on Your Agenda

A few years ago, I presented a teleseminar for advisors throughout the U.S. on referrals.

During the live Q and A, Paul, an advisor in the Midwest, expressed frustration with his efforts to grow his practice by asking for introductions.

“I ask my clients about people they know who could use my help,” he told us, “But it feels awkward, and then my clients get all awkward and put me off.”

“Who gets awkward first?” I asked him.

“Well, I guess I do,” was his response, “But it’s because I know that they’re going to be uncomfortable.”

“Did it occur to you that maybe they get uncomfortable because you’re awkward, and your discomfort actually triggers theirs?” I asked.

“I never considered that,” he admitted.

We then went through 3 Steps Paul could use to take the discomfort out of the act of asking for referrals:

1. Start your client meetings by giving your clients (verbally or in writing) an agenda, that includes as the final item a discussion about friends, associates, and family members you might be able to help.  Don’t surprise a client with a sudden request at the end of an appointment to talk about this important subject.  If a client is going to be uncomfortable with this agenda item, let him or her tell you right at the beginning, and spend a few minutes either then or at the end discussing why this item makes him/her uncomfortable.

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…The last thing I’d like to talk about this morning is some of the people in your life who you would want to have my help.  I’d much rather be working with someone you want me to work with than someone whose name I took off a list somewhere.  We’ll talk about some of the people you have in mind, and, if we decide it makes sense, we’ll figure out the most comfortable way for us to get in contact…

2. Always ask about the value you’ve given them—either on that particular appointment, or in your professional relationship over time.  Ask him what he got out of your meeting, what he learned, and what he will get or has gotten out of his relationship with you.  Ask him to tell you something specific that he found particularly helpful.  Then utter the magic question: “What else?”  Keep getting feedback until he can’t think of anything else, and then direct him to the ideas that you wanted him to find helpful, and ask if he did.

Did you find our discussion this morning helpful?…Was there one specific idea that you found particularly useful?…What else?…What else?…How about when I explained…

3. Now, you can ask them about people they know who could be helped in the same way.  Remind her that this was one of your agenda items and ask who came to mind.

Mary, I’m glad you found the work we did here today so helpful.  The last thing I promised you we’d do this morning is discuss some of the people you care about who might want the same kind of help, and decide whether it would make sense to arrange an introduction—and how we would go about that.  Who is the first person who came to mind?

Speak with confidence, I told the group. If you don’t feel confident, act as if you do.  Paul admitted that part of his problem was that he had not practiced being firm, clear, and self-assured when he brought up the subject of referrals…and practice is essential.

If you want to attract more clients, put talking about the people in your clients’ lives on your appointment agenda and get it out into the open, right up front.  Act assuredly, and keep REACHING…

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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.

Small Talk, BIG SALES: Lessons from a Master Moneymaker

Mehdi Fakharzadeh is one of the most successful insurance sales agents in history.  At 92, he is still taking on and servicing clients.

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.

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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 doMehdi 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…

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Client Retention: They Changed Their Minds!!!

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!

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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.

Even when—especially when—you need the “yes”, make sure that your prospective clients sense only your devotion to bringing them the best and most appropriate service.

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 themnot about your need.

If you want help learning better ways to ensure that prospective clients become actual clients, contact me.  In the meantime, let them change their minds, and just keep REACHING…

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TEN TIPS for Boosting Year-End Numbers

With fewer than ten weeks to go in 2013, I’ve put together a list of the most effective ideas for my financial advisor friends to boost their holiday sales.  Even if you’re not a financial or insurance professional, I know you’ll find at least some of these ideas useful.

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1.  Keep your schedule filled with appointments.  If your goal is 8 appointments, don’t “try” to keep 8—keep them.  If you need to fill your time slots with existing clients, turn those visits into referral opportunities.

2.  Look through the information you’ve taken from existing clients to determine if there’s any way in which you haven’t yet served them.  Maybe you need to discuss converting an existing term policy, or increasing their 403(b) contribution.  Maybe you haven’t discussed long-term care with them.  Is there a client who wouldn’t be helped by increasing his or her monthly contributions into retirement savings?  Find out!

3.  Use the holidays as an excuse to surprise and delight them.  It takes a little extra time and few extra dollars, but the rewards can be incredible: a face painting kit or a barrel of pumpkins for Halloween, a fresh baked pie or a bowl of homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving.

4.  “Up” your offers.  A client who needs $300,000 in life insurance might agree to $500,000 if given the option.  A client who can put aside $300/month for investing might be able to stretch that to $500, if you explain the benefits.  Just ask.  If 1 in 4 prospects says “yes”, your year-end numbers will increase dramatically, just like that.

5.  Ask for referrals as a way of helping someone start next year with a bang.

“Joe and Betty, thanks for letting me know how helpful I’ve been to you in getting your finances in order and in building toward the retirement you want.  With the end of the year coming, I’ll bet you have at least a couple of friends who might like to get a new start on their financial situation for the New Year and may want the kind of service you’re getting.  Who comes to mind that could use a hand?”

6.  Ask for referrals as a way of giving a gift!

“Joe, how about giving your friend you mentioned the gift of a session with me to talk about his finances?  It won’t cost him anything and I won’t pressure him to work with me if he doesn’t want to, but you’d be giving him an opportunity to get something life changing that will last…”

7.  Focus on reaching out to people with whom you already have a connection.  How many people attended a seminar or gave their names to you at a Home Show who you couldn’t reach right afterward, so you then just dropped those leads?  Instead of cold calling people you’ve never met, revisit those “failed” contacts, starting with the most recent.  If you can’t reach someone by phone, try a quick email, or drop a short message on social media.  If you do connect, those people who you have met at least once are far more likely to agree to make an appointment with you than total strangers are.

8.  Slow your fact-finding interviews down.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but you’ll turn more first appointments into [first and] second appointment sales if you ask more questions, especially about consequences of acting and not acting.  It’s not good enough to ask how someone feels about a million dollar insurance need.  Dig deeply into the consequences of not having that insurance in place.  (If they can’t keep the house, where will they live?  Is that okay with them?)  Then, make sure your presentation addresses the consequences that they brought up in response to your questions.  (This will ensure that they can stay in their house, at least until the kids start college.)

9.  Keep your need out of it.  You have numbers you want to reach, but the days of the “Contest Close” have long passed.  Do they need your help, or not?  Is what you’re offering them the best thing for them, or would something that gets you a smaller fee actually be better for them?

10.  When it comes to services they need, don’t please your prospects or clients, and don’t sell to them, serve them.  If they’re telling you that they’re going to put off applying for the insurance they need, and you believe that the delay does not serve them, tell them passionately that they’re wrong.  Be proud of being in sales, but don’t sell, and don’t put having them like you above doing what’s best for them.

If you need help putting these tips into action, contact me.  To make these ten weeks count, focus on serving, and keep REACHING…

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*Image courtesy of Mint.com.

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.

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.

"But"

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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