Slowww Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the while, keep REACHING…

Jim Donovan says:

Great post, Sandy, and so true. Most of us spend so much time chasing after new business and shiny objects that we often miss the opportunities in front of us. It’s like the Acres of Diamonds story.

Typically, everything we need or want is right in our hands but we’re too busy looking elsewhere to see it.