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Facing the Fear of Prospecting

When it comes to agency new business, many agency owners are hesitant to make the follow up phone calls, afraid of the possible rejection, unsure how to approach calls and are putting this part off.

 

Unfortunately with new business, making phone calls is THE most important part of the process, even though these days we mostly reach voicemails. We still need to follow up on the phone, you will still occasionally get hold of people and when you do, you can have some great conversations, getting loads of insight into their company and challenges and building valuable relationships. Conversations that just can't happen over email. 

 

Usually, what we most fear doing is what we most need to do. And this is so true when it comes to prospecting on the phone. It is fear of unknown outcomes that prevents us from doing what we need to do.  So what we need to do, is define the worst case, accept it, and do it. Think about what the worst thing can happen when you make the phone calls.

 

I urge you to listen to Tim Ferris’ Ted talk on Fear Setting which is all about why you should define your fears instead of your goals. Ferris explains how to handle life’s difficult choices, and the results from either taking action or not taking action. He has developed a process called “Fear Setting” which is an important tool that can help us overcome the fear of making difficult choices - to overcome any action or choice and I think it could work really well if you have the fear of picking up the phone and prospecting. 

 

Essentially, Fear Setting is a three page checklist of your fears, and the possible results of action or inaction. It’s a way to visualise all the bad things that could happen to you, so you become less afraid of taking action.

 

Think of Fear Setting as the opposite of goal setting. Instead of making a checklist of what you want to do, make a checklist of what you are afraid to do and what you are afraid will happen. Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering. What steps could you take to repair the damage or get things back on the upswing, even if temporarily? How could you get things back under control?

 

Now that you’ve defined the nightmare, what are the more probable or definite positive outcomes? You might have some good conversations where you find out how agencies are selected, you might find out they don’t have budget and never outsource but at least you can strike them off your list. Or you might find out that they are launching a new product and need some design resource and are actually looking for an agency just like yours!

 

What is it costing you - financially, emotionally, and physically - to postpone action? Don’t only evaluate the potential downside of action, it is equally important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction. If you don’t make those follow up calls, where will you be in one year, five years, and ten years? Where will your new business be coming from? Will you have another “failed mailing campaign” notched up because you haven’t done the important element of it. 

 

How will you feel having allowed your fear impose itself upon you and having allowed another month go by with no action.  Measure the cost of inaction and develop the most important habit of those who excel and enjoy doing so: which is taking daily action.

 

Prospecting is about connecting, about building relationships. Most marketing directors, brand directors and digital directors don’t wake up that day, thinking that they need a marketing agency, so set your expectations that it’s a long term process, one about building relationships. Most of the companies you approach, won’t need your services straight away but that’s not what the call is about. It’s about building brand awareness, making a great first impression, building relationships so that when they do review, then you will be front of mind. And that takes consistent effort. 

 

Now here’s what I believe and that’s selling is all about helping. Selling is communication with a purpose, selling is helping. Your potential clients have a problem, and selling Is all about finding a solution to that problem and helping them. 

 

Consistency is important. Schedule time every day for prospecting. It may be five calls, five emails, or whatever activity you have committed to. Make it part of your daily routine.

Attitude is everything. This is hard work, and there will be setbacks. If you establish a solid plan, you will be able to power through any adversity.

 

Consistency also leads to trust – and people buy from people that they know, like and trust.

Have belief in what you do and the value of your work. Following up is a must. 

 

As I have heard said, a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing every day that you fear. Make that daily phone call.

 

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