Facing the Terror of Reaching Out4 min read
It’s fascinating how many people love horror movies. It’s never been my favorite movie genre, but I can see the appeal. These movies trigger strong emotions – but you are ultimately not going to be harmed.
If you gave people the choice between watching a horror movie or reaching out to a prospective client by email or phone, guess what choice they’d make?
The horror movie almost every time!
Because the perception is that the horror movie wouldn’t really harm them but that reaching out to make a connection could do some real damage.
I remember, early in my career how scary this was for me. I’d go to a Chamber of Commerce meeting and leave with a number of business cards…. which would sit in my desk drawer for years.
Or I’d give a presentation at a professional group and collect business cards at the end… which would again sit in my desk drawer for years.
At some point, I realized that if people met me at a Chamber meeting or through a speaking engagement, the chance of anyone calling me afterward to work with me was slim to none.
So I had to make a change. I had to learn how to reach out and follow up and get over my fears. I wish I could say it was easy. It wasn’t. It was terrifying. Much worse than any horror film!
I dove into a number of books on how to attract clients and focused on the parts about following up with prospects. And in these books, I learned what to say and how to say it.
But that didn’t reduce my terror much. I was still afraid of possible rejection. I was afraid of sounding like an idiot. Just the thought of calling gave me palpitations!
My breakthrough came when I decided to launch a campaign to contact San Francisco Chamber of Commerce members.
I first went through the Chamber directory and identified a number of professional service businesses that I thought might be good prospective clients.
I then wrote a letter to them introducing myself and my business. And then a few days later, armed with my calling script, I made phone calls to all of them.
It didn’t go as I expected. It went better than I could have imagined.
First of all, I was calling fellow Chamber members, so we had that connection. And I simply introduced myself and said, “In my letter, I mentioned that I help small businesses with their marketing. Is that an issue for you right now?”
And, much to my surprise, almost all of them said that it was. So all I did was start asking them questions, about their business, and about their marketing challenges and goals.
And I listened. I didn’t jump in with a solution or a pitch. And when the call wound down, I said something like, “Given what you’ve told me, I really think I could help you with your marketing. Shall we meet in person so we can explore how I might be able to help you?”
And just about everyone said, “Yes!”
Not only that, most of those meetings resulted in new clients.
The breakthrough for me was simple but profound. I didn’t have to sell or pitch or persuade. I simply had to listen.
And how hard was that? Not hard at all. In fact, it was fun.
Fast forward several years later. I grew my business by leaps and bounds. I spoke in front of many professional groups and followed up with everyone who had given me a card.
And I got new clients left and right.
But here’s the thing that still has me scratching my head. Although mastering the art of reaching out to prospective clients was my most effective client-attracting strategy, most of my clients weren’t interested in learning how to do that!
No, they wanted a new marketing strategy, brochure, website, presentation, or newsletter. And I’ve helped hundreds of clients with those things.
But now, I’ve decided to focus on the one thing that makes the biggest impact. I strongly believe all other marketing approaches are less important than this.
And not only that, this is my “Marketing Superpower!” it seems crazy not to teach others how to gain that same superpower.
How to get more meetings with prospective clients. That’s what my new course is all about. “Lots and Lots of Meetings.”
And if you’d like to meet and explore if it might be the right approach for you, I’d love to meet with you. Mostly, I’ll listen.