I was on a coaching call with a client recently when she paused, let out a huge sigh, and let her voice fall flat. We had been talking about her CRM implementation and her sales pipeline, when she paused….
“Leah, I think I just need a pep talk. A couple of things happened last week that, I don’t know, I just feel shitty about. Basically two potential clients said no, one right after the other, and it’s kind of thrown me for a loop.”
I picked up my imaginary glass of wine, leaned in close (we were on the phone, but you get the gist), and said, “Tell me more.”
“First, there was a potential client I had been talking to. He was really excited about our work, and we were finally moving forward. The day before our kickoff he called and said, ‘I’m so sorry, I found out last week that there’s a legal issue with a past client that I need to fight [this particular client is a lawyer]. I just can’t spend the money right now. I really want to work with you, but it’s looking like it’ll be about 6 months from now.”
“Hm, that’s a huge bummer. What else happened?”
“This other potential client, we had been talking to him about Service A, and he told me last week that he doesn’t want to go with that. I mean, he wants to hire us for Service B. But Service B isn’t ready yet.”
“Ok, so tell me how you’re feeling now.”
“Well… [She let out a big sigh]... I was just really counting on these two clients to come in. They just seemed like such a sure thing, and having both of them say “No” in the same week, it just kind of feels… I don’t know, pretty crappy.”
Oof. I know.
When you’re in business for yourself and you get a "No", I’m not going to sugar-coat it: it feels terrible. When you get more than one "No" at a time, it feels even worse. You start to doubt everything. “What if I can’t sign another client ever again?” “Why am I even in this business?”Who knew that two totally coincidental events, happening in close proximity, could completely flatten you?
What’s worse, when you’re running your own business, there’s no one to talk you through this low, pick you up and dust you off.
But I have two strategies I’ve used to pull me out of the Sales Cavern of Sadness, and that you can use too. And neither one involves drowning your sorrows in a bottle of wine. #optional
I’ll go through Part 1 this week, and in the next post I’ll cover Part 2.
As solopreneurs, and really as human beings, anything that feels even close to a “No” triggers all the emotions that come along with it.
It’s like your brain recognizes the HINT of something negative, and it radios to your body, “Run the Bad News Protocol.” You go into self-preservation mode: your chest contracts slightly, your cortisol rises, and most important: your brain stops listening.
Multiply that emotional response by 100 if you happen to be under any stress already, or if there’s anything less than stellar going on in any other part of your life.
But when that happens, you can miss something important. And as crazy as it sounds, sometimes what we initially hear as a “No”, really isn’t a “No” at all.
The trick to stop that is what I call Relax & Reframe . We’ll get to that in a second.
First, back to my client.
I asked her to talk through her conversation with the first prospect. When we did that, she realized something big: he didn’t actually say No. He said “Yes, in 6 months.” That’s still a Yes! It’ll hit your bottom line later, but it’s still a Yes.
I advised her to put a task in the CRM we had implemented, that says “Reach out to so-and-so”, set the due date for five months from "No"w, and don’t worry about it until then. If you don’t have a CRM you can do this in your to-do list or calendar.
We did the same walk-through for the second prospect, and my client realized something else: he didn’t say "No", he said, “Yes, but instead of giving you money for X, I’d like to give you money for Y.” That’s a Yes! In my client’s case, the new service isn’t quite ready, but that doesn’t mean that his response isn’t a Yes.
There’s so much you can do with a Yes like this one. You can invite him to be part of a Beta/Test Group for a reduced fee (which means you’d get paid sooner), you could offer a pre-payment option for a discount (which also gets you paid sooner), you can invite him to be an early VIP… there are so many ways to capitalize on this type of Yes.
The key to avoiding the “Sales Cavern of Sadness” is to stop the emotional response before it happens. To do that, you have to channel every ounce of your energy into staying in your rational mind.
When it comes to selling to potential clients, it’s inevitable that you’ll get a “No” here and there. But it’s important to remember that you’ll get many more “Yes’s”.
In the next post I’m going to tell you the other strategy I use when things feel crappy, that focuses on exactly how many “Yes’s” you can get.
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