Hardwire Prospecting Into Your Meetings

by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

Do you wish that you had a way to consistently prospect so that it feels as natural and routine as brushing your teeth? Many of my clients report the following reasons this is not currently the case:

I often forget to prospect.

I get rushed for time and I don’t want the meeting to be any longer.

I feel bad taking my client’s time.

I feel so uncomfortable and nervous that I want to but I avoid it.

I spent the first part of the meeting helping the client and suddenly I’m asking them to help me. It feels wrong.

I can’t face the possibility of rejection if I ask and then they say no. That might compromise my ability to work with the client.

Your clients are your mirror. They are reflecting your beliefs and feelings right back at you. They may become forgetful, rushed, uncomfortable and nervous right before your eyes after a perfectly normal Fact Finder. That is because YOU are feeling forgetful, rushed, uncomfortable and nervous—tell me where I’m wrong?

Many of you tell me you suddenly feel guilty, bad and awkward—as if you’re ending a pleasant Fact Finder visit by announcing

it’s time to give you a tetanus shot!

Is it really any surprise then that clients start getting squirrelly and uncomfortable?

The first step is to get right with yourself. Let’s explore the most common reasons for not prospecting.

I often forget to prospect. 

Can you really “forget" to prospect or is this really an excuse? You are the leader of the meeting.

Solution:

Start by asking the client at the beginning of the meeting how much time he or she has. Then, take a moment to set your cell phone alarm to vibrate when you have 15 minutes left. That is when you will begin the “dismount” portion of the meeting and transition into 5-10 minutes of prospecting. Set a final alarm to buzz you when your time is up.

I get rushed for time and I don’t want the meeting to be any longer.

Again, who is leading this meeting? You are!

Solution:

Try using a written agenda. You can create several versions and print out multiple copies to be inserted into the client file as part of case prep so that you don’t need to create a new one for every single meeting. The versions you probably need are Fact Finder, Close, Delivery and Annual Review. To personalize the agenda, start the meeting by reviewing the agenda with the client and asking “Do you have any changes or additions to our agenda today?” Presto! Instantly personalized! Walk the client through the agenda and point out that you will be asking for referrals at the end. Make the verbal commitment to do it.

I feel bad taking my client’s time.

What do you have to feel so bad about?

Solution:

Ask your self why you feel bad about this? Can you think of three reasons why you could feel good asking for 5-10 minutes of your client’s time? Are you really “taking” the client’s time if your client has the right to decline? Is it okay for you to ask for something from your client after providing them with your attention and your active listening? When is the last time someone did that for you? In our modern age one-on-one conversations where people feel really heard are becoming rare. Is it too much to ask for a few minutes from them, really?

I feel so uncomfortable and nervous that I want to but I avoid it.

Which is more uncomfortable—no phoning list or the act of prospecting? I thought so.

Solution:

This is your story! You have acted perfectly normal for the entire beginning of the meeting and suddenly you get weird. And then you wonder “why is my client so weird?” Examine your own beliefs about why you are uncomfortable and nervous and when you turn them around your client will again appear normal to you. You may need to talk this out with a mentor or coach.

I spent the first part of the meeting helping the client and suddenly I’m asking them to help me. It feels wrong.

Is is wrong to ask for help?

Solution:

Sometimes this type of belief stems from a deep-down questioning of your own self-worth—something that all humans experience at some point. Did you earn the right to ask? Is it okay to ask for help? This gets at our core human vulnerabilities. To examine how shame and vulnerability may be impacting your practice, I recommend watching these famous TED Talks "Listening to Shame” and “The Power of Vulnerability” by Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, a research professor at the University of Houston who has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

I can’t face the possibility of rejection if I ask and then they say no. That might compromise my ability to work with the client.

Is it possible for you the human to be personally rejected?

Solution:

Ask yourself what is the client actually rejecting? Is it possible that they are actually rejecting the question, the request, themselves, the process, etc.? Get really precise about what is actually happening during prospecting. It is your job to prospect. It’s not personal and it’s not a vote on your worth, expertise or abilities!

By taking the time to address the root causes of why you are not prospecting consistently you can build in a new, normal process that is as repeatable and normal as brushing your teeth.