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.
And you’ve probably rationalized it with, “There are more important things I need to do.” Like:
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:
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.