A few years ago, I received the following email. "My name is Bob (alias). I work for (a former client of mine). We have met briefly a few times in the past. I recently read (another client's) latest post and thought it was time for me to take action. He has had nothing but glowing things to say about you and same for (a third client). I haven’t been performing as well as I would like to at my job and wanted to see if we could sit down for coffee. I’m hoping to see if you have any tips or advice. Also, I would like to learn more about the sales coaching you offer and if I would be a good candidate for your program."
We had a conversation, but no coffee.
A week later, his boss (my former client) asked, "Are you fully retained? Gave you his credit card and off and running?"
I replied, "Confidentially, I'm doing an experiment. He told me that he's been given a 60 day ultimatum. He told me that if he's able to keep his job, it will mean that he earned $14-16K during the 60 days. He told me that his success at his last employer hadn't been transferable to his new job and he wondered if he was more suitable for an account management role rather than hunter or channel sales and he wondered if the evaluation might help. I told him that I would normally charge him $1K to be evaluated and $2K/month to work with him. So, $5K to save his job, but I wanted to prove something. So, this is his deal. $1K to be evaluated. Paid yesterday. He has link and said that he'd do it Sunday. We work together 3-ish times/week between now and the end of his ultimatum to move stuff through his pipeline, and backfill with new opportunities. If we save his job, he has to pay me what he thinks saving his job was worth and he has to tell the world that I did. OK? "
His boss, my former client, followed with, "Yes. I'd like the experiment to work too. He gives us a weekly status update. Once he pays you, ask him for that. Also, his manager is developing into an excellent coach. They don't have the time to give him what he really needs. But, if there's ways you guys can stay in sync that'd be great. Let me know if you need anything else. Thanks."
If you read about the way that I work with clients, you'll know that 60 days is not enough time. The 'change' happens at 8-12 weeks. That's why I did the experiment. The first thing that we did was figure out how my new client would spend the $14-16K. Then we identified a longer term, bigger picture goal and we started working. About 6 weeks in, people started telling me that they noticed a difference in his confidence, skills and results and I saw him getting stronger. However, with two weeks to go in his 60 day notice and our agreement, he had a review with his manager and the message that he walked away with was, "I've got two weeks left before I'm gone." He no longer thought he could save his job. He no longer saw the improvements that he made. He was back to frustration and hopelessness. We finished our time together, but that meeting killed him.
He offered to make monthly payments. I told him that I didn't save his job. He didn't owe me anything. So, no monthly payments. Yesterday, I got a message from PayPal that he had sent me $2,000 along with a note, "Happy Anniversary to you and Elaine and thank you for what you did for me."
Did my coaching fail? I did not save his job.
However, two questions.
This was not an overnight thing. He had been failing off and on for months. What would have happened if he had reached out and we started 3 months earlier?
Second, is he better off today than he was when we met? Is he stronger?