Prospecting Avoidance

Professional salespeople know when they wake in the morning they have to do the one thing that is sure to guarantee an income:

Prospect for new business.

In a way, salespeople begin everyday looking for a new “job”, don’t they? Because without a new client to purchase what they’re selling, how is there any any hope of a paycheck in the future? Even if that salesperson is a salaried professional, without showing results for their employer, there’s no guarantee the employer will continue to employ that salesperson.

I think therefore, we can agree that a professional salesperson, whether commissioned or salaried, knows that prospecting for new business is the number one priority for their days, each and every day.

That’s not to say they all follow through on the actions necessary to prospect. “Prospecting avoidance” is a commonly understood malady in the sales profession. Sales Managers everywhere constantly harangue their sales teams to hit the pavements, ring the doorbells, make the calls, set the appointments, to fulfill the promise of prospecting.

Avoidance of prospecting comes out of the simple psychological fear of rejection. We all have it. Besides, as simple as prospecting can often turn out to be when you actually do it, it can also be as difficult to initiate.

It’s no wonder then that business owners who are NOT professional salespeople may suffer from this very disease of prospecting avoidance. The creative excuses people come up with to avoid having to make prospecting calls are legendary. Yet, as the owner of your business, unless you have a professional salesperson or sales team working for you, you must must, must, Prospect for new business.
The only way to overcome your avoidance of your emotional pain about Prospecting is to simply attach a level of importance to this task.

We hear so often from Business Owners of being distracted with other important tasks: making payroll; attending to a malfunctioning machine on the shop floor; taking a call from the accountant/attorney/spouse/pesky customer/excellent customer/number one account/printer/fleet mechanic and on and on and on.

The Business Owner has attached a level of importance to each and every one of these tasks. Attach that same level of importance to Prospecting. You must. Absolutely must. Your business health, wealth and survival depends on you doing so.

Once you make Prospecting as important an activity as any other in running your business, all those other avoidance afflictions melt away into nothing. Fear of rejection disappears. Procrastination towards your Prospecting Plan converts to an optimistic sense of urgency.

And, yes, you may even like Prospecting.

It’s a Goal to Set a Goal

Let’s face it, it’s a goal to set a goal; and 2019 is almost here!

It’s work. We know it’s daunting to track goals and stick to a plan.

We also know, and this is very important, having a goal and not meeting it could generate feelings of failure and/or rejection. This could set us back and cause resistance to maintain momentum. 

If you think about it…what’s the resistance in setting a goal?

Goals present opportunities, and creating opportunities could mean income to your business. That is….IF building your business is a GOAL!?

Goals are INSPIRING.

There are many different activities that make up your role in your business. There are things you love to do and things that are for the greater good of the business that may not be your favorite part of your day/week/month/year. 

Schedule tasks, make a contest with yourself or team members, reward yourself when finished with a task. Something, anything that will motivate you to want to work on those tasks/activity that will help accomplish the goal.

Let’s embrace what we do and not be afraid of it.

Goals build CONFIDENCE.

Now that we’re motivated and working on tasks that inspire us, this will build confidence. 

When we’re inspired, we FOCUS on the task at hand. And this will help us work smarter to achieve a goal. 

Confidence propels us to be the best that we can be…and maybe even have a little fun while doing it.

Goals are CHALLENGING.

This is where it gets fun. We’re inspired and that builds confidence. 

How about building in a little challenge. We call this getting out of our comfort zone. Competition builds character.

Think of a triathlete. They track their activity and their time to know how they can train to be faster and stronger.

Goals keep us ACCOUNTABLE.

The movie A FEW GOOD MEN includes one of the most memorable movies lines in movie history.

Jack Nicholson’s character Colonel Jessup, when pressed for the truth, bellows: “You can’t handle the truth!” 

I say that you can handle the truth. Tracking your activity will cause reason to celebrate when you achieve the goal. That, or help to pivot and/or redirect our focus so we’re working to our strengths. 

Have you considered an accountability partner? Some people, and I am one of them, need external forces to stay on track. Whether it’s a weekly call or you’re checking in on a private Facebook page, knowing you have to divulge your activity or divulge the lack of activity, this may motivate you to have something awesome to report.

Set those goals; you can handle it!

Spice Up Your Marketing

Whether you are ready to stick a fork in your marketing plan or you’re cooking with gas, you may want to let this marinade for a bit.

I don’t ever brag about my cooking. Recipes terrify me because they are so precise. And well, one false move, will it be edible?

You can experiment with so many different flavors. What about an Indian dish with a flare of curry or an Italian dish with a pinch of oregano. Maybe you like a hot bowl of chili, extra cayenne please.

The possibilities are endless. However, if you don’t want to risk your guests’ taste buds to your creativity (or lack thereof), you may want to prepare ahead of time to test taste the dish. 

When you decide what cuisine you would like to serve and you’ve picked a recipe, you browse your pantry for the ingredients you need and may already have. If you are missing an ingredient, you must take a trip to the grocery store to purchase the rest.

Click here for your marketing shopping list.

You then assemble your ingredients on the counter so it’s all readily available as you maneuver in the kitchen between the refrigerator, counter, sink and stove. You’re utilizing all the tools (appliances) you have in order to prepare the dish.

With marketing, the possibilities are also endless with how you build your brand and execute your story. Similar to deciding on your meal, you have to decide how you’ll execute your marketing strategy.

Whether you are beating, chopping, mixing or grinding, there’s a process and each step of the recipe contributes to the ultimate goal which is a delicious meal you’re proud to serve.

Marketing is similar to this. The recipe to marketing is having a strategy.

The ingredients are the various outlets that will build your brand and build your business.

  • Are you blogging?
  • Branding your website so people “know” you before even meeting you?
  • Posting on social media? 
  • Hosting/speaking at an event?

This activity will help to sell more of your products and services to new and existing clients.

Get our FREE marketing checklist now. Click HERE.

If you prefer not to be the head chef in your marketing kitchen, consider hiring a sous-chef so you can do what you do best and delegate the rest. If you think your marketing is a bit bland for your taste, please give us a call and tell us how we can help you spice things up.

“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” – Thomas Keller

The ROI of Doing Nothing

Often, when a business-owner invests in marketing, they want to know when they will see a return on investment. It should be a question and a concern; it would be cavalier to dismiss otherwise.

However, when a business-owner finally realizes that marketing is key to new business development, some think that results rapidly occur. It doesn’t work that way.

Besides considering the cost of marketing, the time before profit is realized remains uncertain. In my experience of running a business and investing in marketing, a person skilled in sales considers budget, cost and equally as important, the confidence that the potential solution could be a cure to stagnation.

It’s hard to quantify the loss of income when nothing is being done to attract new business. It’s not unusual that, sometimes, we spend a lot of time rationalizing not investing a few dollar to make more dollars.

Did you ever go to a networking event, meet people, get business cards and never follow up? It happens! We spend money to attend the event, gas for the car and lose quality time with family and/or personal endeavors. The ROI of dong nothing equals nothing.

As a licensed insurance person, it would be tough to write insurance if I thought “that person doesn’t need insurance” especially when they have insurance because I know they own a car, a home, and a business. 

Do you like tea? If you do, you know that when you make tea, you don’t drink it immediately after pouring the hot water into the tea cup. You have to wait for the tea to steep so it maximizes the ingredients and flavor of the tea; otherwise it’s just hot water.

Marketing is like tea. it takes time. Besides needing money to invest in marketing, we need patience to develop a reputation. You know what costs money? A reduction in new business while overhead continues to increase.

Don’t be cheap, steep! Then, enjoy one sip at a time. 

Easy, Breezy, Pleasy

When you think of what is most important to prospects and clients, many would probably guess “price” and that’s not wrong. Price is typically high on the list. PUN INTENDED!

Most prospects get right to it with questions such as:

  • What do you charge?
  • What are your rates?
  • How much will it cost?

However, did you know that one of the Top 5 Values to customers is EASE OF USE? According to Ian Golding’s article, “What do customers really want? The top five most important things revealed”, ease of use is actually #5; on a list of 5…which is actually LAST. 

Hold the phone, so what’s the big deal then?! 

The answer is to make it easy for a client to engage. And if we don’t, they will quickly turn to another option.

What does “easy” mean anyway?

It depends. Comfort for both the seller and the prospect warrants understanding the expectations of the potential client.

Let’s make this easy. What are some things you can do?

Over-Inform

Let’s start with a simple scenario gone awry. If a client is coming to your office, do you prepare them for every possible eventuality, such as:

  • Do you prepare them for where to park?
  • Is it metered parking?
  • Is there a landmark next door?

It seems to ridiculous doesn’t it? People have GPS for goodness sake! 

Here’s what I mean. I invited a woman to an event I hosted. I gave her the address thinking that would be sufficient. However, she couldn’t find the location and ended up frustrated driving around and gave up. I could have, and should have, indicated that it was next door to a well known hotel and conference center.

Over-Phone

If there are more than 3 emails about a simple question that isn’t being answered, pick up the phone. All too often, there’s too much opportunity to feed our brain’s need to multi-task because emailing seems easier. But, email can delay a simple task from being completed while we wait for an answer and get distracted with another task.

Over-Prepare

Do you prepare the client with an on-boarding process so they understand what they should expect from us for next steps?

When I used to write insurance for a new client, I would outline what they should expect after purchasing the insurance. It’s a comprehensive checklist summarized in these 3 basic topics. 

  • Documents procedure
  • Billing procedure
  • Communication procedure

Let’s go back to the concept of managing expectations. It seems like a lot of work, however, if you create a process with templates, it will be set you up for each client when they hire you.

These days, the pundits are pontificating about the customer experience and the customer journey.
And it’s no small feat to achieve customer satisfaction. 

If you have multiple product lines, you can’t be just “ONE AND DONE”. You have to train clients to keep you top of mind for any of their future inquiries. Do the tough steps first and the easy stuff follows.

Applying Sunscreen to the Status Quo

It’s summer time…the joys of barbecues, boating and the beach. Except when you fall asleep on the beach without reapplying your sunscreen. I hate when that happens!

The worst part is when you’re showered, refreshed, and ready to relax from the relaxing, the negligence kicks in. BAM! 

The savage tan you were hoping for is replaced with red, blotchy skin that stings to the touch. It’s painful, isn’t it? The raw burning pain is all we think about. We focus on seeking that remedy, that magical ointment, that will relieve the burn.

These ailments are physical…and visible. They can limit us in our mobility because they devour our thoughts with the pain while waiting for the relief to set in. When will the pain stop?

Unfortunately, there are no physical signs when we are STUCK in a RUT. And just like forgetting to apply sunscreen, there is no warning that this rut is imminent or happening as we speak.

To make matters worse, unlike the relentless focus on physical pain, we justify and defend our lack of progress. Isn’t there an ointment for that?

Think about it, the status quo is like walking around with a sunburn and not knowing it. It’s safe; it’s NOT uncomfortable. We aren’t in pain. Or are we?

Overcoming the status quo is like the ointment on the burn. As much as we try to maintain the status quo, the more we find the outside world will force us out of our comfort zone, through no fault (or desire) of our own.

There’s a big, bad, world out there waiting to spin us around in an attempt to try something new, whether we like it or not.

Is your status quo any of the following:

  • Is sales and/or marketing not your forte?
  • Do you think you don’t know how to sell?
  • Do you not like to bother people with asking them to buy from you?

Many of you may feel dread and trepidation thinking we’re intruding on someone’s privacy. What’s up with that?

What happens if YOUR service and/or product is something THEY really need? We only hurt ourselves with missing out on that next new client who wants, nay NEEDS US!!! 

We hurt ourselves by sticking to the status quo; you know, like a sunburn.

Learning how to overcome the hesitation we have about asking for someone’s business is a lot easier than you think. It’s like putting the ointment on the sunburn. Failing to overcome that hesitation results in losing money for no reason other than your awkward shyness. Failing to apply the sunscreen results in that nasty sunburn.

Pretend that sunscreen is merely a shield from your shyness and go burn it up!

Prospecting: TR(Y)AL & (T)ERROR

I’m a broken record when it comes to new business development.

Unless your business never (and I mean never ever) has clients that retire, relocate, downsize or die, you must consider new business development strategies, aka PROSPECTING.

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “prospecting”?

Networking, maybe?

Cold calling? Did you just shudder and break out in a sweat? I don’t blame you. 

Did you know that dictionary.com defines prospecting as:

    • to search or explore (a region), as for gold.
    • to work (a mine or claim) experimentally in order to test its value.

That’s pretty cool even though I know that they are not distinguishing the word in a sales capacity.

Sales & Marketing gets a bad wrap, and prospecting, to me, is the gritty way to say new business development. 

Most people DO NOT have the same reaction (shudder and sweat) when you discuss customer service. Some people think it’s “safe”. We get to respond to clients who are looking for us to help them. Makes sense.

I don’t want to be a party pooper, but customer service involves its own form of prospecting. Every interaction with a client is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, solve a problem and….wait for it…remind them why they do business with us. 

Not so fast. That’s the easy part. 

The hard part is not letting them off the hook (literally and figuratively) once you managed the task at hand. Taking a few minutes to ask them for feedback on how you’re doing and reminding them what else you do in your business, gives them a reason to think about why else they need to hire you.

It’s harder than it sounds. In the insurance world, we call that “account rounding” and “cross-selling”.

Without getting too dense, if you’re not getting uncomfortable with how to find new clients, you are not growing. It may not seem like it now, but there will come a time when a shift will happen. The key is, either doing it voluntarily and proactively or reacting to circumstances beyond your control out of desperation. 

Sometimes, having a dedicated person to help with sales and marketing, prospecting and new business development is a luxury and a focused disciplined. Other times, developing a culture where everyone in your office pitches in, is how will you will not be the best kept secret.

Marketing: Woes and Wows

I was thinking about how to outline a proverbial “good news, bad news” message.

Marketing takes on different life forms when you’re deciding how to promote your business. A brief outline can be reviewed in my blog, “Reflections though the Drive-Thru Car Wash”.

I think you’ll be happy to know that I’ve consolidated BOTH the woes and wows as one issue. ONE? Yes, one! For now.

New business development is an under-stated and underrated activity and effort that’s critical to any business. Hoping and eagerly waiting for the phone to ring is not a strategy. You don’t need me to tell you that.

I think we all know that we secretly wish it were a strategy. 

Did you ever “HAVE TO” go to a family or community function because you made a decision and needed to follow through with it, but you dreaded it? WOE MOMENT.

BUT, after going, despite dreading it, you had a great time! It happens, doesn’t it? You bet it does.
You may have even been pleasantly surprised (and relieved). WOW MOMENT!

That’s how new business development works. 

Creating conversation out of thin air with complete strangers and coming across as a “salesperson” is daunting.
WOE MOMENT

So, you get uncomfortable, coordinate with colleagues, peers, associates, alliances, power through and attend that networking event because you know there will be possible connections and valuable introductions.
At the end of the event, you have a fruitful experience, much to your delight. WOW MOMENT.

One aspect of Karma is that if you venture out of our comfort zone, you will experience something valuable and useful.
If you stay within your comfort zone, you may not have bad karma, but you can’t complain about the status quo because that’s your choice.

Visit my video on prospecting. By the way, spoiler alert this is a WOW MOMENT; I don’t care what anyone says.