Why is it that some people seem to just love picking up the phone. They relish the thought of speaking to people. They get excited by the prospect of prospecting. But, if you like most people who run their own business, making sales calls, reaching out to potential clients and following up on your proposals is usually NOT something you like to do. Yes, you know on a logical level that this is important, but you’ll do anything to avoid the action of doing it.
And it doesn’t matter how many templates, scripts or systems you download or try out, even with the seemingly right tools to get on with prospecting, why do you avoid doing the work?
Empty the dishwasher. Iron your socks. There are so many other important jobs that conveniently get added to your to-do list so you find yourself distracted enough to not have the time to prospect. Not enough time. Such a convenient excuse … but how is it harming your business?
What if it wasn’t the practical doing bit of prospecting that you’re struggling with? What if was the way you feeling into prospecting that was holding you back? If you were able to design and create your own rituals that allowed you to feel energetically ready for prospecting, would this make a difference? First, let’s clear on what I mean by prospecting.
What is prospecting?
Prospecting isn’t cold calling. It isn’t buying a database or sending blanket emails to any email address you can get your hands on. It isn’t buying space at an exhibition and handing out leaflets to everyone who walks past your stand.
Prospecting is the simple act of initiating or following up on a conversation with someone who you think maybe an ideal client. You may have met them before at an event. You may have even had a conversation with them in the past. They may also be someone you’ve never conversed with but you’re connected to on LinkedIn or Facebook. And they can definitely be someone you worked with before in the past or a friend or even your next-door neighbour.
My point is that anyone you feel may fit your ideal client avatar is someone you can potentially initiate a conversation about the work that you do and the services that you offer. And in this world of social media noise and trying to be visible, us small business owners and entrepreneurs have the potential of cutting through that with the simple process of reaching out to one person at a time.
You can not kid yourself that working on your marketing funnels or content or brand is enough to attract enough clients. If you are still waiting to be discovered or hoping to get to the stage of having a waiting list for your services and programmes, you simply can’t afford to wait for people to approach you. You have to spend some of your time – even if it’s just an hour a week! – to reach out to and follow up and start conversations with potential clients.
As a British person, I know how up-tight our Britishness can get us. We are historically a very polite nation who would apologise for having our foot stepped on and wait patiently in queues, with only the occasional silent tut. This Britishness can really pull a lot of people back from the idea of prospecting. Just think of the reaction you may have had when you read that a friend or a next-door neighbour could be a prospect 😉
There’s a lot of fear that comes up with prospecting, too. I get that. Your mind monkeys can get really noisy every time you even think about the idea of initiating a conversation with someone you may want to sell to.
Combine this fear with British politeness and you can find all sorts of things flying through your head …
‘I would hate to be a bother. What if I interrupt a meeting or they are in the middle of something when I called them?’
Would they really pick up the phone if they were in the middle of something important? And what if they were delighted to hear from you?
‘I hate getting emails that are trying to sell me something. I’m sure my potential clients would feel the same if I sent them all these emails that I’ve been told I have to send out.’
If you hate the emails you get that are trying to sell you something, it’s usually because you are NOT interested in what they are selling. How many times have you had an email that you’ve been really pleased to get out of the blue that’s saved you money, time or told you about something that has changed your world?
‘Those messages I get on LinkedIn, trying to get me to book a call with them, are really icky.’
Ditto as above. When you get the right message from the right person at the right time, that opportunity to speak with them directly is an amazing opportunity to get your questions answered quickly.
For every mind monkey thought, I will be able to re-frame it for you. But I don’t have the time – nor the inclination TBH! – to be doing that ALL day for you 😉
What I want to share with you today is something far more useful; a list of rituals that you could adopt to help create the right space, energy and environment to ignore the mind monkeys for a short while and make prospecting far more do-able and approachable. And, just to be clear, I’m not a natural prospector either, which is why I know how important creating rituals are in making sure it happens in my business!
What do I mean by rituals?
Most human beings are creatures of habits. Habits such as brushing your teeth in the morning or taking your supplements with your breakfast are often so ingrained that you don’t even have to think consciously about doing them. Other habits such as biting your nails or chewing on a pen can be triggered by nerves or your mind’s way of wanting you to concentrate. Some people want things in a certain way to feel comfortable and relaxed, so will have certain bedtime rituals. And others will be religious in their evening face cleansing rituals.
Rituals have a wonderful power in that they can help prepare you mentally for the task ahead and create an environment and the energy conducive for the activity you need to do.
Think back to how I joked about the dishwasher and ironing of socks being more important than prospecting. If you’re using these tactics, then this is your own way of using a ritual to avoid the task. So what if you used certain rituals to help you transition into the right state and environment for prospecting? What if you create your own habits to raise your energy, which in turn helps increase your confidence?
Here are some ideas for you.
This is by no means an exhaustive list so please write down your own ideas as they come to you. Or even share them in the comments below. I’d love to know what you try.
- Make your own Success Scrapbook and read it through before you start your prospecting. Print out, write out and stick your favourite testimonials, thank you notes and positive comments into a scrapbook so you have them all in one place. It’s really easy to forget about the nice things that are said to you throughout your working week, so keep them all together in one place and use them to remind how bloody brilliant you are before you start reaching out to people.
- Dance wildly in the kitchen. OK, so this may not be your thing but dancing whilst no one watches is a great way of getting any repressed negativity out of your system, as well as making your laugh at yourself. This is one of my favourite ways of rising my own energy.
- Clear your desk. A cluttered desk not only distracts you but can also have a detrimental effect on your clarity of thinking. If you say you like working in chaos and enjoy the creativity of having books and papers everywhere, but you still can’t ‘find the time’ to prospect (or other excuses to this effect), then I challenge you to clear some space and see what difference it makes.
- Make a cup of your favourite brew. Not only do you need to be hydrated to do your best work, the simple act of brewing your favourite tea or coffee also helps create the short time to mentally transition from your previous task to prospecting. The time it takes to boil a kettle, and stay there to watch it boil (that’s important – this ain’t a multi-task moment!), can slow down your breathing, centre your thinking on the task ahead and helps grounds you.
- Mediate. Yup, even just 5 minutes of mediation can slow you down sufficiently to feel more into your power. Laura Coleman of Be Mediation calls mediation your pause button. And this is a great practice and ritual to help calm your Mind Monkeys.
- Decide how you want to show up. I asked this to one my Momentum Pod groups the other week because we were discussing prospecting rituals. Curious, being of service and interested were some of the ideas shared. Imagine if you stepped out of those feelings of doubt and fear (don’t want to interrupt or be a nuisance) and into feelings of opportunity (I wonder who I get to speak to today?). Being conscious about this decision on how to show will have a dramatic effort on the results you get.
- Smug, burn or incense. Many of the clients I work with are what we may call spiritual. They have a strong connection with their intuition, may call themselves empaths and are more often than not introverts. They are often already using rituals such a sage smudging, lighting candles and crystals in their every-day but don’t think to use these rituals to help frame and prepare for their prospecting time. I find the simple act of lighting a candle and striking my singing bowl a really great of bridging myself into prospecting time. It connects me to who I am focusing on and helps me turn down my mind monkeys for that hour. So if this your thing, try it.
What else can you think of that you know could work for you? Music, your working environment, time of day and so many other things will affect your energy and desire to prospect. Using simple rituals like these can have a quick and immediate impact not just on the way you experience prospecting, but on your results too.
It’s all very well having the latest, sure-fire way of getting leads from LinkedIn or the best script or email templates, but if you don’t feel energetically connected with the process, you are going to do anything and everything to avoid the work. Try one or two of these rituals out and let me know how they make a difference to how you embrace your prospecting and what impact you make.
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
About the author
Karen Skidmore is a midlife leadership & business coach for entrepreneurs scaling their purpose & profit. Business Books Awards finalist 2020 & podcaster, Karen uniquely combines the being-ness and doing-ness of business to help you grow, without burning out.
The first step in discovering the True Profit in your business is to take the True Profit Test.