When are you best prepared for prospecting? Ask a reluctant runner

I rang in 2015 by joining a running club. OK, so this is not the first time I have ever “resolved” to be healthier at the turn of the New Year, but it is the most serious I have ever been about it. Really. I’m still in it to win it, and since I started literally at zero, my three-mile mark at mid-February is hugely encouraging. But that’s not the story here.

The accomplishment (so far) is even more meaningful to me because I’m not a likely candidate for running six steps, much less a mile. I’ve endured big orthopedic issues in recent years and entire months where just walking required teeth-clenching determination. Proud as I am of my perseverance and willingness to up the game, that’s not the story here either.

The story comes thanks to my running coach, who understands that overcoming resistance usually requires we roll a big stone out of our chosen path. As a runner, my key phrase is, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.”

Running conditions in New York in January are many things. There’s snow one day, slush the next; bone-chilling temperatures; night runs since I work late; the ongoing complaints from my hips as they ask why my mind indulges its new taste for sadism.

Perfect, it ain’t. On any given morning, I can come up with five solid reasons why my efforts make no logical sense, whatsoever. But they’re irrelevant. My progress is the proof.

I’ve worked with many financial planners who would rather run a lap (with no practice) than prospect. Most are long on reasons why they just aren’t ready: their materials aren’t up to date; they haven’t figured out their annual quotas; they’re pretty sure niche marketing is the way but haven’t found the niche.

Below these reasons, likely, is a big, ugly, path-blocking rock: it’s pointless, they’ll louse it up, it’s embarrassing to ask for business, failure will kill their confidence. The rock’s message is simple: Don’t. Because you can’t.

Prospecting means we will be seen, engaged, maybe even evaluated. It’s scary. But these aren’t mortal fears. They only pretend to be.

‘Perfect’ conditions do not exist for prospecting, running or just about any other pursuit that matters to us. The best conditions are those in which you do all you can to push towards your ask.

Sometimes you won’t know what you’re doing. You’ll forget your strategy, your script won’t apply, you’ll meet a prospect in an unlikely venue and will have no preparation for protection. You’ll just have to be you.

But you know what? That might be a time when you discover new strengths. Buried beneath our sales goals and professional expectations we all have the energy to affect change and get things done. Scary? You bet. But it’s exhilarating too.

Anything can happen tomorrow. The truth is the conditions will never, ever be perfect. So today I’m running. Because as the Red Hot Chili Peppers like to say, ‘Never been a better time than right now’.

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