Whether you're a rookie or 20-year-plus veteran, at some point you’ve probably experienced an inability to make contact with enough prospects to keep your sales pipeline full.
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And you’ve probably rationalized it with, “There are more important things I need to do.” Like:
- Answer emails and voicemails
- Send out seminar invitations
- Work on your newsletter
- Prepare for client reviews
- Attend staff meetings
- Market analysis
- Train support staff
- Post updates to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook
All of the activities on the list fall under the categories of marketing, customer service, research or training. Important? Yes, to varying degrees. But none are pure business-building activities.
If you indulge in these activities on this list, you are probably succumbing to the most common of all maladies in a personal services business: Prospecting Avoidance Behavior (PAB).
PAB sufferers typically believe that because they're so good at what they do, people will find them, operating under the false impression that “If you build it, they will come.”
Although that’s the storyline from a great movie, it’s an idea out of left field for you.
Either you’re prospecting or you’re circling the drain.
What’s the cure?
Call in the “PAB Doctor,” Nick Murray. His most recent book The Game of Numbers has been highly recommended by four of my clients, all of who are busy facing down this career killer.
As you'd expect from Nick, you can only buy the book at NickMurray.com. Even at forty bucks, this slim volume is a bargain.
Although Nick has geared his comments to Financial Advisors, any sales professional would benefit from reading it.
Let’s start with Murray’s definition of behavior you must engage in:
A prospecting approach is a genuine attempt to start a conversation with another human being about your ultimately becoming his/her financial advisor.
Do you see how the activities I listed above all dance around this? That’s base camp.
The Game of Numbers is divided into four parts, in sequence, with short, sweet chapters woven throughout. The descriptions below are from Nick’s web site:
Our ability to persist in a long-term, high-volume prospecting effort is primarily a function of the experience we believe we are having. Most of us unconsciously believe that when we prospect someone who says "no," we experience the "pain" of "rejection." Because there is so much "no" in high-volume prospecting, most advisors get taken out by the perceived pain.
This first section of TGON argues that this experience is entirely generated in our own minds: that "no" not only doesn’t hurt, but that it is in no objective sense rejection. It suggests that we can desensitize ourselves to this imagined pain by seeing that it is a result of our own anxiety. We can then reduce and ultimately eliminate prospecting anxiety by replacing it with a new belief system, based on prospecting from our most authentic self.
Belief dictates behavior. Just as a belief in the "pain" of "rejection" must cause its victims to stop prospecting, a belief in the power of prospecting with your own authentic self, combined with an unwavering faith in the efficacy of the law of large numbers, must lead to long-term success. It is a mathematical certainty.
This section of the book argues that it doesn’t matter how you prospect, whom you prospect, or what you say. It matters only that you prospect, and that you do not stop. Readers will finish this section completely liberated from all anxiety about prospecting method.
This section of TGON lays out a daily prospecting program based on the training program of an endurance athlete. In this methodology, you discover the basic level of prospecting your anxiety will allow you to complete. You standardize this into a daily program. Then, as you get stronger, you expand your capacity slowly but consistently – as a runner or a swimmer does – training, but not straining.
This section also gives you specific methods of falling back to pre-established endurance levels, on those occasions when you find that you’ve tried to bring yourself along too quickly. Along the way, it develops a reward system in which you get instant gratification for the act of prospecting itself, rather than from the outcome.
This last section of the book develops a series of specific skills, including a variety of very low-key conversation-opening scripts, non-threatening offers that get appointments, and thought-provoking ways to handle Q&A/objections.
But wait, as Ron Popeil would say – there’s MORE! Murray covers a host of ideas that can help you ward off PAB, including:
- Personal responsibility. If you don’t have enough clients, or the right kind of clients, the problem is not your industry, or your firm, or the economy. It’s YOU. Other people have made it under the same conditions you have – quit whining and pick up the phone.
- Courage. You made the bold decision to forego a salary and be paid on effort. So be courageous enough to face down your fear by regularly seeking out people with whom you can share your offering.
- Activity. Business is about doing, not about knowing. Got a lot of high-falutin’ letters after your name on your business card? They don’t mean squat to prospects. You can always find plenty of people/resources to answer questions you can’t – no one but you can close a deal.
- Rejection. It doesn’t exist, except in your mind. Other people simply say “no.” The myth about successful people is they get less “no” responses – the truth is they are willing to get more because they don’t attach any meaning to them.
- Exercise. Inspired by his triathlete daughter, Murray encourages you to work out in the morning so you can let the endorphins battle the PAB monster when you get to the office.
- Gratitude. Nick Murray shares his grateful attitude for the many life blessings he’s had, encourages you to do so as well, if nothing more than sending off hand written thank you notes to people. Along the same line, he encourages you to tip service workers generously, along with kind words of praise – does wonders for your attitude.
- Faith. Murray doesn’t stoop to bible thumping but does confess a bias to believing in The Great Whatever. Couldn’t hurt – believe it if you need it …
Nick Murray claims this book is a “love letter” to those who are either first starting, or who are “re-starting” (in the case of those who have succumbed to a plateau of mediocrity) their prospecting effort. He’s a distinguished industry veteran who is willing to share the naked truth about how you will ultimately succeed or fail, as if a kindly father figure took you by your business hand and showed you the way. Not only will this book inspire you to action, it is both a fun and funny read -- I gotta love a guy who cites Napoleon Hill, Aristotle, Casey Stengel, the movie Jaws, Dick Vitale (“Dickie V. Baby!”) AND the Grateful Dead (???), think you will too.
Let me go on record: The Game of Numbers is the first book (after Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich) that you need to read if you intend to have a thriving personal services business. It will now sit forever on my desk as a trusty sledgehammer for all of my clients who are “PABbing it.” (Not to mention the guy I see in the mirror …)
Take my word, if you follow the PAB Doctor’s prescription, you’ll never again let this career-killing disease paralyze you. Do yourself a favor and pick it up – you’ll thank Nick Murray later.
Success Skills Coach Jim Rohrbach, "The Personal Fitness Trainer for Your Business," coaches business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals on growing their clientele. He has helped hundreds of individuals to achieve their goals since he developed his first coaching program in 1982. Visit Jim on the web at http://www.SuccessSkills.com.