By Jim Cathcart
One of my coaching clients showed me his published works and told me about his goals. As a subject expert and consultant he had risen to a high level in his industry so he wanted to kick it up a notch. Despite his ambition I noticed that he was thinking rather small so I began coaching him to raise his sights and go for a national prominence instead of just an industry niche. At first this seemed foreign to him and he clearly didn’t believe that he could qualify for that level of distinction… yet.
That’s when I noticed that he needed the confidence and courage to see himself as a bigger resource. So I shifted my coaching away from imparting information and started helping him to discover how valuable he can be to his clients. I showed him how he had already done, in his limited market area, the same things that he could do on a national scale in multiple industries. It’s not that I just got him to raise his sights, I got him to understand and FEEL that he was already qualified to take on the bigger challenges.
What keeps us from doing all that we are capable of doing is usually not a lack of skill, instead it is a lack of belief in our ability to be a greater resource to the world.
We are all capable of making a greater contribution than we currently do. And the world will reward us in direct proportion to the amount of value we give to others. This can be emotional value, monetary value, intellectual value or something else but there are more things we can do for others.
Some argue, “I’m already giving more value than I’m being paid for!” I disagree. You may think that you are giving value but until the recipient thinks of it as valuable, then it doesn’t carry much weight. It’s not what you and I think of our work that counts in the marketplace, it is what the receivers of our work think of its value. That is what determines its true worth. Think of a Snickers® candy bar. There may be other candies that are “better” but none is more popular. So, in the buyer’s mind, Snickers® has great value. It’s the buyer’s perception that measures the value.
I was once coaching a team of salespeople in an insurance agency and during a workshop one of them said to me, “Jim, I must know more about the way this new product works or I can’t sell it.” For a little background, this was a highly educated man with a powerful public reputation and three advanced degrees. I was showing the group how to sell a new package of Estate Planning products and he was resisting until he totally understood the product from a technical standpoint.
I challenged his statement. I said “Bill, with all due respect, that is just not true. You are one of the most capable salespeople in this agency and you could be selling these products today if you approached it in the right way. You could even sell these products if you knew NOTHING about them.” He was shocked, how could I say such a thing? How unprofessional! To sell a product without understanding it fully just seemed unethical to him.
So, I proposed an experiment. I asked him to work with me, on faith, for the next week in the following way. “Leave all of your product information in the office this week and call on people with simply a blank note pad. Tell them that you want to assure that they get the best plan they can get and you want to stop the product discussions temporarily while you get a more clear understanding of exactly what they want their estate planning to achieve for them. Then ask them to tell you what they hope this process will do for them. Listen intently and truly empathize with them. Determine what feelings are driving their choices and help them see the outcomes of making better choices about their finances.
I warned him to resist the impulses to teach or discuss specifics. Don’t sell them and don’t get into a comparison of various products, just listen, really listen like never before. Then come back to the office and speak with the product experts about how you can best help people achieve exactly what they deeply and truly want. Bill agreed to try this experiment for one week. It wasn’t easy for him because he was a detail guy who loved to educate his customers, but he gave it his best and each day he improved as a listener and guide for his clients.
At the end of the week he seemed like a man transformed! He glowed with enthusiasm, courage and confidence. He smiled broadly and wanted to tell everyone else in the office about his experiences. Everyone in the office noticed the change. I asked him how it was going and he burst with enthusiastic descriptions of his experiences. “Just this morning I walked into a client’s office and started to listen and probe. When I did this my client dropped all of his defenses and openly shared with me some of his deepest personal concerns. In doing so I was able to build a level of trust like never before. In fact, he gave me a signed blank check and asked me to just let him know how much I had filled it in for and what he had bought! A blank check! Jim, I’ve never had this kind of bond with my clients. This is great!!!”
Bill went on to achieve even greater levels of trust with his clients. A few months later he made a sale that netted him a personal first year commission of $300,000.00. It was the largest sale in the entire company (out of 125 agencies). From that day forward he never went back to his old patterns of selling. He became so successful that he got regular requests to speak for other agencies to show them his secret sales techniques.
You and I often limit ourselves unknowingly through wrong thinking, lack of confidence and the courage to commit to be better. We limit our performance without realizing how happily successful we might be with just a few minor changes.
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More about Jim Cathcart:
Selected for 5 consecutive years (2010-11-12-13-14) as one of the Top 5 Speakers on Sales & Customer Service, and listed as one of the Top Minds in Personal Development, Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE is a leader among professional speakers and authors. Recognized as one of the world’s best keynote speakers Jim is one of only 5 speakers in the world who hold all of the following honors: Toastmasters Golden Gavel Award (2001), President of the National Speakers Association (1988-1989), Speaker Hall of Fame, CPAE (1985), Certified Speaking Professional, CSP (1981), and winner of The Cavett Award (1993). Most recently he has joined the faculty at XTRAcredits.