The “No” Game.

“I know it’s crazy,” exclaimed Barry, a young financial advisor in New Jersey, while on the phone with me.  “I want to be in this business and I want to be successful, but I can’t bring myself to make the phone calls I need to make—and if I don’t, obviously, none of that will happen.”

Barry proceeded to tell me how many hundreds of calls he’d initiated over the past few months and how discouraged he had become.  He acknowledged that if he didn’t start reaching out to people again, he would have no choice but to find another line of work, and insisted that changing careers wasn’t what he wanted.

We discussed how the best people for him to approach would be his “warm market”—the people he knew already—but how he was especially terrified about calling them.

“I’d much rather cold call,” he insisted, and although I view cold calling as a last resort for most professionals, I conceded that it might help him to at least start with some activity there.

“You’ve made plenty of cold calls before,” I remarked, “So what’s stopping you from just picking up the phone and making more?”

“I don’t know,” he replied, “I just feel like I can’t pick up that phone for anything.”

“Then maybe you’re approaching these calls the wrong way,” I suggested.  “Make it a game—your need for a client is making calling so stressful, it’s no wonder you can’t bring yourself to do it.”

“What if the goal here was not to get an appointment, but to collect NOs?” I continued.  “How many NOs could you collect in a day?  Make it a game, just for today.”

Since he wasn’t doing much of anything productive in his current funk, anyway, Barry agreed he could give up just one day to play our little “NO” Game.

Now, we had to give the game some structure.  We decided to make it a bit like baseball, so that Barry’s challenges were as follows:

1. Break up the day into innings.  Make 20 calls, then take a break and reward yourself: a walk around the block, some peanuts and crackerjacks; a cup of coffee or a lunch break.  Then make 20 more calls, and continue the call-reward pattern throughout the day.

2. Keep score.

~Every “dial” (do we still call them dials?) would be a swing.

~Every “connect” (an actual conversation—however short) ending in a “NO” or a “not right now” would be a hit.  (Hits are what we’re looking for.)

~Every “Yes”—an appointment to see a prospective client—would be a Home Run.  (Great if you can get them, but we’re only really after hits.)

At the end of the day, Barry had made 109 dials, had connected with 27 people, and had booked three appointments.  In baseball jargon, he was batting .248 and already had made 3 home runs for the season.

Much more importantly, Barry was ready to play the game again the next day.

Author B.J. Gallagher coined the phrase “Yes lives in the Land of No”.  But until Barry was willing to play the “No” Game, he was stuck in No-Man’s Land.

If you’re stuck wishing for Yeses but scared to face the Nos, isn’t it time you reached out and had a conversation with me?  Your success is in your hands.  Batter up…and keep REACHING…

Tony says:

Hi Sandy,

Great article as always, keep them coming.

I worked with a coach earlier this year. You may know him, his name is Sid. He suggested that the key to call reluctance is our attachment to the outcome. If you view all of your no’s as losses it will be painful. He encouraged me to let go of the outcome. He insisted that your job is simply to make the calls and not worry about the results. In fact he teaches and I have also read this in a book called “Get Cleints Now” something called Mystical Momentum. I don’t care for the name but it is very real as I have experienced it many times. The teaching is this. If you do the work, the appointments will come. Not always from where you thought they will come from but they will come. I can’t tell you how many times I have made the calls and got mostly answering machines and then during the next week my calander would almost magically fill up with people calling me back or people out of the blue that I had met a long time ago, sometimes years ago, sometime referrals that I did not even know. Many people credit the universe and call this a universal law, but I know who created the universal laws and no I credit him. Either way the law exists and is there to tap into. And knowing about this law helps me let go of the results and just make the calls and see what happens. It really is pretty cool. Anyway Just thought I would share. By the way I bought your referral class and am stuck at week two for some reason. I made some notes of things to do and then I got busy and let it go but I hope to get back to it, I like it so far and love the idea about asking my clients who else they want to help. Take care Sandy and have a great October class. Wish I could be there with you but maybe next time.