Over a decade of Sandy’s weekly written articles on strategies and motivation for your business and your life.
Today I want to give you some pointers on how to lose clients. If you want to lose clients, employing these strategies will ensure that you do:
1. Avoid regular communication. Make sure that you never update clients about the status of their case. Don’t proactively report to them on a regular basis, whether you’re in some kind of holding period or there’s a lot of activity. Clients who are kept informed on a regular basis—even when there’s nothing to report—are always more content and less likely to leave you.
2. Don’t send copies of correspondence or report important conversations. After all, isn’t it annoying how clients who receive copies of correspondence that outright tell them there’s nothing they need to do, call you anyway to ask if there’s anything they need to be doing?
3. Be careful not to show you care. Never follow up with clients after an important event, like a big meeting, a sudden sharp downturn in the market or their situation, or a disaster of some sort in their neighborhood. People who communicate with clients at these times keep them longer and end up getting unsolicited referrals.
4. Don’t buy into the idea of having client relationship management systems. Stay away from systems that would allow you to automate regular periodic contact with clients. These types of systems help clients stay loyal. No newsletters. No calls to check in on them. None of that.
5. Don’t answer or return pesky phone calls. If a client should happen to be irritating enough to call you for the status of his case, try not to be available. If he or she leaves a message, be sure not to return the call—or, at least, don’t return it too quickly. If you really feel compelled to return the call, wait at least a week before you do.
6. De-personalize your service and teach your staff to do the same. Make sure your staff is rude and annoyed by constant interruptions to their day due to client calls and visits. Avoid being in the same room with clients if at all possible, and when you have no choice, be as aloof and unconcerned about their issues as you can be. If you prefer, you can be really “salesy” and make them squirm. Clients love to complain about professionals who do these things and pull their work from them.
7. When you’re done with the client, move on for good. Make sure you never contact him or her again. Show no concern for former clients whatsoever. Don’t do anything for their birthdays or anniversaries or their children’s birthdays. Don’t even bother to learn when these events are, so you won’t need to try to forget them. This will ensure that if they need more help in the future, or if they come across someone else who could use your services, they won’t be tempted to turn to—or to recommend—you.
Learn more about how we can help you dream bigger, reach your biggest goals and overcome your biggest obstacles. Click HERE to schedule a consultation with Sandy.
“I don’t want to cold call,” Robert, a financial advisor in Michigan who I had been working with, began. “But I don’t know how to fill my time.”
We were discussing Robert’s second career, for which he had proclaimed his passion, but for which he just hadn’t been finding enough clients.
“Let’s start with the people you already know,” I advised.
“Well, I know a lot of people who could use my help, but I haven’t spoken to some of them in years,” Robert exclaimed. “And a lot of the ones I’m closer to are avoiding me now because I think I came across as too high pressure when I started, and it really turned them off.”
“That’s two different groups,” I told him. “The second one is going to take some time to rework, so let’s look first at the ones you haven’t yet spoken with.”
“Well, they taught us to just call them up and offer to sit down with them,” Robert offered. “But I’m not comfortable with that. How would I be able to convince them that I care about them if I called them up out of the blue after five years to ask for an appointment?” he asked.
An easy way to ask someone you haven’t had contact with in a long time if she might be interested in working with you is just to tell her that you wanted to reach out to everyone you knew and that you included her:
Rather than making a dozen calls to total strangers like a lot of advisors do, I decided I’d prefer to call people I actually have some connection with who might be ready—or are already working on—investing for their futures, and who might want some professional help. You were one of the people I thought of. Would you be open to discussing your situation with me for a couple of minutes?
But this approach was way too “salesy” for Robert, so we discussed the approach I actually prefer. It’s much slower, but I feel that it’s also much more effective:
CONNECT. Think about where your relationship is with someone. Could you call him? Could you email her? Could you Friend him or her on Facebook or add them on LinkedIn? Then, start to move the relationship forward to the point where you can meet with them—for coffee or to see their businesses, or whatever.
BUILD RAPPORT. Once you’ve connected and have started to engage, you will come to know your old contact better, and he or she will come to know you again. Inevitably, the discussion will turn to what you do for a living.
OFFER YOUR HELP. Once what you do is out in the open, there are many simple ways to suggest that you’d like to offer your professional help. Here’s one of the simplest:
So that’s the work I’m doing, and I really enjoy it. Have you ever worked with anyone who does what I do?…
Learn more about how I can help you dream bigger, reach your biggest goals and overcome your biggest obstacles. Click HERE to schedule a consultation.
Whatever you do, keep REACHING…
Throughout my years as a coach, I’ve noticed a sad but interesting phenomenon: People often choose failure over success—on purpose.
A few years ago, I asked a group of coaches who were attending the event at which I was speaking how many of them were there because they needed more clients.
All 47 of the people in the room raised their hands.
I then asked how many of them were getting some kind of coaching or training to improve their situation and astoundingly, this time, only TWO hands went up.
One of my coaches, author Steve Chandler, talks about how people will fight to their deaths to defend a story they’ve made up about themselves (e.g. “I don’t need help…I can do it on my own”, or “I tried getting help, but it didn’t work”) rather than simply showing their vulnerability to someone by asking for what they need and then following through to get it.
Several years ago, I offered a select group of financial advisors an intensive workshop on client development. I filled the program, which included an all-day in-person workshop in New Jersey, followed by several groups and individual coaching calls.
Everybody showed up for the all-day workshop, but many chose not to take advantage of the coaching sessions that came afterward. I understand that investing in help when you’re not sure you’ll get value for your investment causes people to hesitate. But the people in this workshop had already paid for the help.
A few of those people actually didn’t need more help. A couple were already my private clients. And one or two may not have felt that what I was doing could help them. I can accept and respect that.
The rest, however, simply chose not to get the help they so desperately needed. Rather than being vulnerable enough to admit that they needed it—so that they could get and grow from it—they chose to take their story, that they could do it on their own or not at all, to their deaths.
They chose to fail on purpose.
If you’re one of those business owners or professionals who wants to say, “I tried everything, but none of it worked,” stick to your story…and fail on purpose. Go ahead—it’s okay.
If, however, you are willing to admit you need a little extra help, I would encourage you to take a calculated risk and invest in it—down to your last borrowed dime if need be. If you can extend your arm to meet a helping hand, you might change your story and be glad you did.
So keep REACHING…
Are you ready to achieve the success in your business that you deserve, but aren’t sure how to do it? Click HERE to schedule a consultation with Sandy.
I’ve worked with CEOs who bemoan the fact that they are “forced” to work 60+ hour work weeks.
Unless you WANT to spend that much of your time working, and to forsake having any kind of family or personal life, you shouldn’t be doing it.
“But there just IS that much to do!” my client Ron, the CEO of a food product company, protested.
What Ron needed were some ideas to squeeze 12 hours of work into 8 or fewer.
Over the years, I have helped many business leaders implement strategies for getting things done in less time. Here are a six of my favorites:
(1) Just say NO. It seems like I’m oversimplifying, but as Warren Buffett says, “The difference between a successful person and a REALLY successful person, is the really successful person says NO to almost everything.”
(2) Focus on ONE thing at a time. Doing one thing at a time allows you to get things done faster because you’re able to focus and work at a deeper level. You’re also not wasting time “task switching”.
(3) Schedule it. Usually, what gets scheduled, gets done. If there’s a pile on your desk, schedule time to tackle and don’t allow anything to interrupt it. Arrange your day in “Power Blocks.” Have a time for responding to emails, a time to return phone calls and blocks of time in which you’re focused on your most important projects.
(4) Six Most Important. In the early 1900s, Ivy Lee taught industrialist Charles Schwab how to get things done. He told Schwab to make a daily list of his 6 most important projects and prioritize them. Then, he told him, start number 1 and do not touch number 2 until you’ve taken number 1 as far as it can go. The Lee Method still works today. Starting with the most important when your energy is highest makes sense. Trying to do a little on all of them sounds like a good idea, but it usually doesn’t work.
(5) Shorten deadlines. Parkinson’s Law says, “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion,” which means you can usually get things done in less time simply by allotting less time to complete them.
(6) Under-promise and over-deliver. Disappointing someone upfront by telling them you can’t get to something until the end of next week and then having it by Monday works better than promising it to them this week and disappointing them by not delivering it until Monday. Lighten your workload by under-promising.
What are your favorite ways to work faster? Let me know. Or ask me for more, so you can keep REACHING…
I have a wonderful, supportive wife and an amazing family.
I made it through 42 radiation treatments this year to beat cancer for the third time.
I had the opportunity over the past year to work with a team of financial advisors spanning from Pennsylvania to South Carolina while continuing my work with my regular clients.
There’s a roof over my head and food on the table
And, I have YOU reading this right now.
So many things to be thankful for.
But it’s all in how you look at it. I could be seeing it all this way:
How can I be thankful when I’ve had to battle cancer for the third time?
How can I be thankful for the toll that these battles have taken on my body?
How can I be thankful when my biggest coaching engagement just ended?
How can I be thankful when I’m concerned about the future?
Author Michael Neill says, “We live in the feeling of our thinking.” It’s not what’s happening to us, but what we’re THINKING about what’s happening to us that makes us feel sad, bitter, frustrated, or angry. Neill tells us, “Change the thought and you change the feeling.”
But if you’re not happy about your situation, how do you change the thought?
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar would tell his audiences that the healthiest of all human emotions is gratitude. “Go home and write down all of the things you like about your [work/life],” he would instruct them. If you hate your work, do you at least like that you get paid, or that it allows you to be independent, or that you can control your hours?
“The secret,” Ziglar would tell them, “is that like is another word for grateful.”
If you’re feeling that there isn’t a lot to be thankful for in your business or your life, make a list of the things you like/love about them–what you can be grateful for–and read the list out loud tomorrow–and every day.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving…and keep REACHING…
In 2005, Steve Jobs gave the commencement address to the Stanford graduating class of approximately 5,000 students.
“I never graduated college,” he began, and then held his audience’s attention as he told three stories.
The first story was about “connecting the dots”. Jobs told them that even though he dropped out, he continued to attend classes anyway—the ones he liked. One of these classes was calligraphy. Years later, when he and Steve Wozniak created the Mac, one of its main selling points (eventually copied for Windows) was that it had multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts.
“If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class,” Jobs informed the graduates, “And personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.”
The second story was about getting fired from his own company, Apple, at age 30. This event led to the creation of NeXt, and Pixar, and to Jobs meeting his wife. Pixar created the first fully computer-animated film, Toy Story, and became the largest computer animation company in the world.
“I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple,” Jobs told his audience. “It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.”
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick,” he attested. “Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.”
The last story was about his first brush with death, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004 and told to go home and get his affairs in order. The stunned graduates listened intently as he told them:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Jobs did not succumb to his cancer until 7 years later, in 2011, living by that very advice until the end.
He concluded his commencement address by quoting from the back cover of a popular publication from his youth, The Whole Earth Catalog:
STAY HUNGRY. STAY FOOLISH.
Stay hungry, stay foolish, and keep REACHING…
Success, however you define it, may not be easy to attain, but what you need to do to be successful is simple.
You’re the boss. The buck stops with you. If you want your organization to be successful, you have to get it from where it is at “A” to where you want to go–“B”. And as Dusan Djukich says in Straight-Line Leadership, “A leader’s job is to get to B.”
As in geometry, the shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line. If there were no forces being asserted against your efforts, you would simply direct your people to move in a straight line from A to B.
The problem leaders face, though, is that there are forces being asserted against your efforts to move in a straight line. Some of them come from realities of the world around us—mistakes, employee problems, unforeseen events, supply shortages, market conditions, competition, etc.
But the biggest forces working against you may be internal—having to do with who you are being—that is, what kind of leader you’re being. Too often, the problem with staying on that straight line is that you aren’t a straight-line leader. You might show up as a circular leader. Djukich describes this kind of leader as someone who keeps seeking more information—more than he needs—but won’t act on it. He keeps circling around looking for more information but doesn’t set in motion the action needed to get to B. Other leaders show up, he tells us, as zig-zaggers. Zig-zag leaders repeatedly thrust forward on a straight line and then stop to circle around before they thrust forward again.
What you’re doing to get to B is less important than what kind of leader you’re being. It’s hard for any team to get behind someone who is not calling for action or who starts and stops again and again.
Straight-line leaders come from a place of empowerment. They believe that B is attainable and that they can use their human and other resources to get there. They say what needs to be said even if feelings will be hurt. Djukich tells us that they’re loyal to the greatness of their people rather than to their smallness. And they keep moving forward, acquiring the knowledge they need as they go and applying it to move forward, rather than stopping and regrouping or changing direction.
Is there a “B” that you’re having difficulty moving your organization toward? Maybe who you’re being as a leader is the problem.
Contact me if I can help you be the leader you need to be and keep REACHING…
I talk with CEOs almost every day who appear to have two people residing in their bodies: The Fearless Leader and the Fearful Manager.
When the Fearless Leader is in charge, she has a clear vision of the company’s future and plans to get it there. She knows she will need to invest time, energy, human resources and money to do it. She understands that she will get there more certainly with investments in training, technology, etc. She knows there is risk involved, but sees the potential reward as her driving force. If financial resources are tight, she finds a creative way to raise the money the company needs because she’s committed to her vision. And she inspires her people by sharing that vision.
When the Fearful Manager is in charge, even if he sees the value of something that will help him improve business, he is deafened and blinded by his terror. He sees taking an entrepreneurial risk as a direct road to disaster. He sees his Board, if he has one, gunning him down. He hears “expense” wherever the word “investment” might appear to his counterpart. “If I have to spend money for (technology, human resources, etc.)” he exclaims, “it’s just too risky.” He closes his creative faculties to any ideas that would generate the resources needed.
There’s no doubt that when the Fearless Leader is in charge of your company, you will do significantly better in the long run. As long as the Fearful Manager is in charge, however, your company will fall further and further behind your competition.
Who’s in charge of your business today? If it’s the Fearful Manager, fire him. Believe it or not, who you put in charge of your business is a choice you make every day. Keep the Fearless Leader in charge.
I coach business leaders to keep the Fearless Leader in charge. If the Fearless Leader is in charge of your business let me help you sort out the steps you need to take to accelerate your company’s growth and productivity. If the other guy is in charge, let me help you get rid of him.
Contact me to help you stay the powerful leader you’re capable of being. And keep REACHING…
Some time ago, I opened up a fortune cookie at the conclusion of a Chinese dinner and read this:
“To Be Successful in Business Be First, Be Daring, Be Different.”
I dropped the fortune into my nearly empty tea cup. But then it struck me that this little slip of paper extolled the exact advice I give many of my clients—not just about business, but about careers and as a way to live their lives. It really did say something about someone’s future! I dug the wet fortune out of the cup with a fork, dried it off and saved it.
These days almost everything on the market has become a commodity–like apples in a supermarket. If you want one, you look for the juiciest one you can get at the lowest price. You don’t particularly care what farm it came from or who the distributor is. Twenty or so years ago, if you wanted a computer, your choices were an IBM (First), an IBM “clone” (Daring), or an Apple computer like the MacIntosh (Different). Today, however, if you want a computer, you may still want a brand name, but unless it’s an Apple (Different), you are unlikely to care which brand name it is. In other words, name-brand computers have, for most of us, become . . . well . . . expensive apples—commodities that are not unlike fruit in the supermarket.
Has it happened in your industry? To you? Does your business or product or service look to your customers and clients like supermarket fruit? Is the only way you can think of to compete by price, resulting in smaller margins, less revenue and significantly weaker client/customer loyalty? When you’re First or Daring or Different, your competitors are the supermarket fruit, but you’re not one of them. You’ll attract the people who don’t want just any apple. They want YOU.
Take a stab at being First, Daring or Different:
- Change your business. If you’ve been telling people you run a [whatever you do] business that works with anyone and everyone, stop doing that. Be the number one company in a category. Be the one that dares to _____. Be the only one around whose fee structure is _____. First, Daring, Different.
- Articulate your unique value to your customers. With so many choices, why should they be working with you and not someone else in the same business? Do what you can to keep price from being the distinguishing factor.
- Get help with your brand, your leadership, and your services. Turning yourself from an apple into anything else is never easy. That’s one reason why top executives hire coaches.
Whether you get help or not, to be successful in business be First, be Daring, or be Different. And keep REACHING…
“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” ~ Simon Sinek
Leaders who have worked with me know that I believe that business owners and professionals need to be crystal clear about their answers to three questions:
- Who do you work with? (Who are your customers/clients?)
- What do you give them that they want or need? And
- Why will they buy this product or service from YOU (and not someone else or using some do-it-yourself workaround)?
In his eye-opening TED Talk several years ago, author Simon Sinek talked about how communicating your WHY is the most important factor in growing your business. Sinek drew what he called the “Golden Circle”:
“Most companies sell from their WHAT,” he told the audience. He used computer companies as his example:
We sell great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Wanna buy one?
“The most successful companies,” he continued, “sell from their WHY.” He used Apple as his example:
[In] everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. (WHY) The way we challenge the status quo is making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. (HOW) We just happen to make great computers. (WHAT) Wanna buy one?
Sinek went on to tell his audience that leading with its WHY allows Apple to sell other electronics products with similar ease, while other well-known computer and peripheral companies had difficulty launching related products.
What’s your WHY? What do you believe that drives what you do and who you do it with? Once you are clear on that, you can talk about WHAT you do and HOW you do it.
If you want help figuring this out, contact me. And always keep REACHING…
P.S. If you’re interested, you can find Sinek’s talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4