Bad Habits to Break
Chronic bad habits:
• Assuming the client himself or herself is the cause of the problem. They were smart enough to hire you, and even good people need help. Never assume your client is damaged unless you see evidence (e.g., they yell at subordinates, badmouth colleagues publicly, etc.).
• Allowing yourself to be ushered out of the office. If the buyer asks for a proposal, for example, prior to a thorough discussion or conceptual agreement, then you’re just pursuing a treat thrown on the floor as if you were a dog. By the time you pick it up, the door has been closed.
• Believing non-original sources. Just because someone says something at a meeting, from the stage, in a loud voice, or with authoritative inflection, doesn’t make it true. Nor does a listing in Wikipedia. Find the original source, especially if you’re going to use the information with a client, as part of your intellectual property, or in writing.
• Telling people everything you know instead of what they need to know. Very few people are as boring as those in prolix discussion of their methodology and exploits. Generally, a “yes or no” question requires a one syllable response.
• Using false pretenses. Don’t tell a buyer you want to “interview” him or her when the intent is really trying to meet them. Don’t approach someone for “help” with the intent of trying to sell them something. (A woman recently asked me how she could best be helped by me. I told her to join my Mentor Program. She responded, unbelievably, that she should be my “life coach” in barter.)
• Going into a meeting without clear expectations. How do you know how successful you are without a calibration against your minimum and maximum (min/max) expectations?
• Failing to provide options and putting the prospect in a “take it or leave it” position. Even for something as minor as the next meeting date or phone call, always provide options to maximize receptivity and responsiveness.
• Lying to yourself and expecting others to believe it! If you’re done pro bono work, that’s not a paying client. If you self-published a book, that’s not a commercially published book. If you introduced as speaker, that’s not a speaking assignment.
Walking across thin ice is dangerous. Carrying a flame thrower while you do so is perilous. Turning the thing on and pointing it at your feet is just crazy.
© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.