How Important is Prospecting in Your Meetings?

by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

Do you ever stop and listen to all of the thoughts that pass through your mind every day? Through coaching thousands of FRs at Northwestern Mutual, I have discovered that there are some limiting beliefs that are almost universal. For example, do you share this thought: “The least important part of the meeting is prospecting.” If you are like most Financial Representatives (FRs), you wish you could say no, but down deep the answer feels like a yes.

Let’s do Byron Katie’s The Work on this thought. This means that you can first identify a thought that is causing you stress and pain and then question it. Just because you have a thought does not make it true! I will fill in the most common responses I hear from FRs I talk with all over the country so that you can get a feel for this process. You can change the answers to your own if you want to. Once you understand how it works, you can use this on any of your limiting or painful beliefs. Everything you need is available for free online.

Thought: The least important part of the meeting is prospecting.

Question 1: Is it true?  Yes

Question 2: Can you absolutely know that it’s true?  No

Question 3: How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?  I feel immediate stress. It’s a little harder to breathe and I feel tense. I feel slightly bitter toward the person I’m meeting with. I start to worry about my practice. I think about my phoning list and how badly I need referrals. I question myself and if I can do this career.

Question 4: Who would you be without the thought? I would be a top producer like [name of admired FR]! I would ask every time. I would be excited and feel good—lighter.

Look at the freedom you can experience without the thought. Let’s turn it around. Turnarounds can be to the self, to the other, and to the opposite.

Here are the possible turnarounds for this particular thought:

Turnaround to the self: The least important part of the meeting is [me].

Turnaround to the other: The least important part of the meeting [to the client] is prospecting.

Turnaround to the opposite: The [most] important part of the meeting is prospecting.

Next, find three examples of why the turnaround is actually the truth. Take your time and really feel the new beliefs.

Turnaround to the self: The least important part of the meeting is [me]. 1) I’m acting like it is by having prospecting be the first thing to go if I have to cut anything from the meeting. 2) The most important part of the meeting is me, ironically, because there would be no meeting without me! It’s funny that I didn’t notice that. 3) When I ask for referrals from the client I feel guilty and act like I’m not important. I have told myself that everything is supposed to be about them. Maybe prospecting is about both of us because it allows me to grow and be here for all of my clients.

Turnaround to the other: The least important part of the meeting [to the client] is prospecting. 1) I don’t have any way of actually knowing this is true! It might be something I made up. 2) I worry that I will offend clients or lose business by asking for referrals. This has never happened to me personally, though I have heard that it could from other FRs. It’s probably costing me more business not to ask then to risk this happening since it is not that common. If it does happen maybe the relationship wasn’t going to be that great anyway. 3) Even if this is true, I can live with it. It doesn’t take that long to ask for referrals and most clients don’t seem to mind that much even if it’s not as important to them.

Turnaround to the opposite: The [most] important part of the meeting is prospecting. 1) This really feels a lot truer now. If I don’t prospect it will hurt my practice. It is important. 2) If I don’t prospect I won’t be here to fulfill the promises I make to my clients. 3) When I believe this I feel relief. I am trained to prospect and I’m doing my job. I feel more self-respect.

Byron Katie has dozens of videos of The Work on her website, excellent books such as Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Lifeand free resources on her website. When she realized she could question her own mind after experiencing severe depression, she developed The Work. She said, "I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn't believe them, I didn't suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”

Try changing your thoughts to change your life and your practice. As Bryon Katie says, “Don’t believe everything you think!”

Coaching Tip When you first start noticing how many thoughts you have you might feel overwhelmed. Begin by just noticing them or writing them down. When you have some time, choose the most painful one, download the free resources on Byron Katie’s website and try it out. List out the four questions and really feel your answers without any hurry. Notice what happens when you change your mind.