Are you listening to yourself?

I just got off a coaching call with a client that told me about a prospect that just put a deal off until Q2.

He already knew what to do. He already knew why it happened and he already knows how to avoid it in the future. Near the end of the call, he said, "I know that they lied to me." and we talked about that for a bit.

However, I'd like to make a different point by sharing excerpts from a recent exchange that I had with a non-client.

I asked this question in a LinkedIn Group:

Can you, in 25 words or less, name three things that you'll change in your professional practice in 2014?

They replied:

1) Trust myself more.  2) Question every assumption.  3) Run the business, not be employed by it.

I'm thinking, "Totally awesome!"

Then I read their comment in another thread about advanced lead generation.

My sales coach has repeatedly scoffed at networking events, outbound calling etc. as a prospecting method, so these have not been part of our strategy, and almost all of our new business comes through referral. The challenge is that there aren't enough referrals happening to hit our targets. And in some cases the referrer has set the relationship up poorly based on who we used to be. You end up feeling like the spouse who finally left an alcoholic partner only to join a dating service for recovering alcoholics.  I'm seriously rethinking EVERYTHING I do sales-wise as we head into 2014. Would love to know what's really working out there. What % of $$$ actually comes from inbound versus other more traditional prospecting methods.

I replied. Fire your sales coach, They are a dope. Trust yourself more. Question every assumption. Run your business. Have we ever spoken?

They replied: @Rick Thanks for your reply - it gave me pause. A week's worth. We've never spoken outside this group. Maybe we should.

I replied: You're connected to _______. Talk to them. They may have some insight for you regarding having a conversation with me. If you'd like to schedule a call, this link makes it easy.

They scheduled a call with me.

The call was about frustration, stagnation, and lack of direction. (Not unusual.)

I sent the following email a few hours after the call. 

I hope that you left our conversation with something that was actionable. Sometimes, when the conversation takes as many turns as ours did, it results in a list, but no clear direction. I forgot to ask how old you were. If your age is divisible by seven, I would have asked if you had read Passages. I did mention Starting a New Sales Job (or Starting Over) and What Makes a Sales Rock Star Candidate? I also mentioned Mark and Matt. You may want to check out Matt's Blog to understand his goals as you work on yours. Finally, this page will explain a lot. Did I promise anything else? Please just remind me. If/when you'd like to talk again, just schedule the call and I'll do the rest. Go slow. Go fast. You pick. Also, if you have questions, just ask

They replied. 

Thanks for this Rick – you nailed it that I left our conversation with a lot to think about and no clear direction for action.  In answer to your question, I’ll turn 46 in a matter of weeks. Haven’t read Passages but I did track down the key life transitions at a pretty high level and had to chuckle. It helped me put a framework around what I’ve been feeling for the past few years. I surpassed every goal I ever set for myself by the time I was 32, and it feels like I’ve failed to achieve much since. There were things I wanted to accomplish by 45, and a life I wanted to build. They didn’t happen. I don’t know if they ever can or will – every day, I get up and put on the mask, but inside I feel like a harried housewife with frizzy hair & dirty housecoat from a bad Woody Allen movie. When people ask me what my dream is I honestly just don’t know. You suggested an other-centered goal might motivate me but lately, all I feel when I think about doing for my family is resentment. But this can’t be it – that I won’t accept. My brain just seems to work differently than most peoples’ – I see things that others don’t, then have to work backwards to figure out why I see what I see. I get frustrated with people who miss what’s obvious to me. And it can be difficult to communicate what I intuitively sense – people who work forwards build the story as they go, one step at a time. I start on the last page, it’s a bit like renting a VHS movie that’s all the way at the end. You’ve got to rewind the tape to get to the beginning before you can start to tell the story. Sometimes that frustrates me – which usually gets me accused of being a bitch, an asshole or patronizing. It can also hurt me professionally – I have trouble jumping on bandwagons when I can see the cliffs looming ahead. So while others are raking in cash by riding the wave of the latest, greatest thing, I’m trying to figure out an alternative that doesn’t have the obvious cliff attached. There’s little comfort in being proven right again and again when being right isn’t what people want to buy. I love figuring out how to solve a problem, but the execution leaves me bored to tears. The challenge is long gone by then. I also looked into Susan Cain’s book – I felt like her description of an introvert in conversation was a parody of my marriage. (My hubby is an extrovert – big and loud, with a personality that takes up an entire room. I often feel like there isn’t any space left) My current coach leaves me feeling the same way sometimes – he’ll make a judgment or deliver advice without taking the time to fully hear what’s going on. That can be a challenge because I may need to work backwards verbally from what I’m experiencing to  He may be right (often is) but I’m left with a lot of "yes but what about…” after I’ve hung up the phone. I’ve learned to rehearse calls to hi before I make them and speak quickly – it seems to work better, but it means everything takes a hell of a long time. I would like to continue the conversation – but the $2k a month isn’t in our cash flow right now. Ironically, I have to improve our sales results in order to afford help. If you have suggestions, I’m open. And… how does one figure out if she’s one of the ‘untrainable’ 39%?

I apologize for the length here, but I wanted you to see the reality. Clearly, this person is upset that nobody listens to them, but I suggest that the difference between my client at the top and my non-client is that my client trusts himself, questions assumptions and runs his business. He's a Sales Rock Star in progress.


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