Contact avoidance (not making the calls, not reaching out, etc) is usually caused by fear. That fear is caused by friction that makes otherwise easy tasks (picking up a phone, researching a prospect, asking for a referral) feel much harder than they actually are.
Here are some examples of friction:
- Not knowing who to ask for
- Not knowing anything about the company and person you are calling on
- Not feeling 100% confident in the value of your solutions (or yourself)
- Not knowing what to say at the beginning of the call that will create immediate interest in why you are calling
- Not understanding the mechanics of persuasion: Making the call all about yourself instead of about them, and then wondering why no one wants to talk to you
- Not letting go of the outcome (that you have no direct control over) and instead focusing completely on the actions and attitude you can directly control
- Blowing up each call in your mind into an overwhelming life or death event
If you’re finding it really hard to get out of your comfort zone and start initiating the conversations that matter most, start with this list as a way to troubleshoot your own friction points, then focus on eliminating them one at a time.
Blogs, Linked In, Google Adwords, sales letters, virtual trade shows; all of these will be a monumental waste of time, money and energy unless you are spending most of your (business development) time…
…TALKING TO PEOPLE.
People. Not readers, markets, demographics, prospects, tweeters. People.
It’s my only real complaint with Web 2.0 and Social Media. It’s become all about the gadgetry, but the content quality and the conversations the content is meant to spark is thrown in as an afterthought. Classic quantity mindset.
Worse, broadcasting a message is so easy now, that anyone can do it. It’s safe. You don’t feel the sting if someone passes over your blog post, doesn’t re-tweet your amazing insight or marks your email as spam.
Think of all these incredible channels simply as inexpensive ways to potentially initiate a real-life discussion with someone about their problem and how you might solve it. If you’re spending all day blogging, tweeting and bulk emailing, but very little or no time actually conversing, then you’re missing the entire point.
Use every tool at your disposal, just don’t hide behind them.
“It takes about 2 years for a business to become profitable.”
“It will be at least 3 months before you can expect to get your first client.”
Our expectations affect our actions. If we expect that it will take 2 years to become profitable, then we will do just enough to make that happen. If we assume that we won’t land our first paying client until the next quarter, then we will do everything else in the meantime but what it will take to bring in business right now.
Arbitrary averages and hypotheticals are meaningless. They have nothing to do with you, your business, your strengths and your ability to make things happen. Just as nobody can expect that they will automatically start getting clients after a predetermined amount of time, don’t make the opposite and more tragic mistake of assuming you can’t bring in revenue before some randomly predetermined date.
“This year we’re going to finally lay down a marketing plan and stick to it.”
This enthusiastic announcement is then usually followed by pages of complex analysis, graphs and spreadsheets. Weeks and months of planning. More speeches.
Then, before you know it, it’s the end of the year.
Start. Pick something simple, actionable and attainable. Get it out there. Then pick the next tactic. Get that out there as well.
Marketing is not a research project or exercise in theoretical applications. It’s action. It’s experimenting with ways to solve more people’s problems. It’s trying something that may not work the first, second or third time. It’s adaptation. Evolution.
No it doesn’t. And that fact doesn’t diminish the quality of your services, the value you offer to clients, or your own competency.
So sell. Sell happily and sell often.
Let your competitors corner the market on the “selling is beneath us” business strategy.
Crash of the Titans (ooooh)
Circle of Greed (ahhhhhh!)
House of Cards (ohhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!)
The Tyranny of Oil (gasp!!!!)
These are just a few of the many doomsday business books prominently displayed at my local Borders. Is it any wonder that we remain paranoid and unwilling to move forward, grow and create new opportunities? These books tend to go past analysis of our recent financial woes, and instead seem to celebrate them.
Moo.com has figured out a way to take a normally boring product (business cards) in an otherwise dull industry (printing) and carve out a unique, specific and endearing niche for themselves. That engaging approach is brilliantly demonstrated on their website.
If a business card printing shop can build a customer-centric website with an actual personality, then anyone can.
Want a fun little project? Look at your company website. List every single picture, graphic, logo, idea, sentence and thought on it. Go do it right now…I’ll be here when you get back.
Okay, got your list? Now, after every listed item, describe exactly why a customer will care about it. Be brutally honest with yourself.
Done? Great. Now type up a list of everything on your site that doesn’t communicate something specific and relevant to your customers, send it to whoever handles your website, and ask them to delete everything on that list.
What’s left is what matters. Everything else is noise.
Ask me about a topic that I’m passionate about, or even keenly interested in, and I tend to boil over with enthusiasm. Simple responses can get drawn out into long monologues, at which point the other person in the “conversation” starts to fade away, eyes glazing as his or her bandwidth starts filling up.
So why am I admitting this personality flaw?
Because most of us are guilty of the same trait. Think about what gets your blood hot, whether politics or environmentalism or poorly written corporate home pages. We all have something that pushes a button in us and activates the manic part of our personality.
The trick is to keep the passion, yet redirect it to something more productive. Instead of telling, ask a probing question to better understand someone else’s point of view. Then listen, don’t interrupt, don’t wait for your turn to speak. Just listen.
Something magical happens when I listen to someone else’s ideas about a topic instead of beating them into submission with my own opinion.
1) I learn more about that person, what makes them tick, what they care about, and how the issue affects them
2) They tend to get much more enjoyment out of the conversation
3) I’m not exhausted at the end
Channel that passion into sincere interest as much as possible, and you may be surprised at how much you learn from other people.