If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it – and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.

Marcus Aurelius 

Winston Churchill said this a different way: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” 

When it comes to prospecting, most people need an attitude change. Their procrastination, fear and avoidance are all connected to their feelings and perceptions about the task, not the task itself. While I can’t change attitudes, I can share mine in the hopes that it leads some of you to your own “lightbulb moment”. 

I grew up on one of those mythical streets – where we knew all our neighbours and no one locked their doors. Even as a preschooler I was allowed to push my palm against the latch of the screen door and head outside alone, the slam of aluminum echoing behind me. 

Often other children from the neighbourhood would be in their yards or on the street and I’d join them. But sometimes I’d be on my own and while simply being outside was fun, having company was better. So … I’d knock on doors. The line “Can so-and-so come out to play?” was a real question in my world, asked over and over again, especially in the summer. 

Knocking on a neighbour’s door usually produced a friend already lacing up their sneakers to join me but there were times when a parent responded with “No, not right now. They might be out later.” And that was that. I didn’t take it personally and it didn’t diminish the fun of the day. I either went and knocked on another door or headed into my backyard to skip rope or play ball against the side of the house. 

On rainy (or more likely in Timmins, Ontario – snowy) days, having fun revolved around board games. Friends would come over and we’d occupy ourselves with rolling dice, picking cards, moving pieces from square to square. There were always good snacks and lots of laughter. Winning was nice, but it wasn’t necessary; the afternoon was perfect regardless. 

I carried this delight into my years of being a step-mother, as well as to being a Big Sister, godmother, grandmother and daughter-in-law. Games remain within easy reach – everything from Wii to Scrabble to Cribbage. 

And I’d be remise here if I didn’t remember the phase in the ’80s when adult friends would arrive, wine in hand, to spend an evening playing Trivial Pursuit. I felt more vulnerable as I competed for the colourful triangles because this game held the possibility of my appearing less than intelligent. Still, it was fun – an evening of food and laughter and great conversation – always a good thing. 

So in my very early years as an entrepreneur when a consultant shared with me that it was okay to have a sales ratio of 1:10, something clicked for me. Prospecting was like a board game, like knocking on doors, like having fun – and it has remained fun for me for the past 25 years. 

Each time I pick up the phone and dial, it’s like rolling the dice. Where will this call take me? Will I end up with voicemail and, as a consequence, not move to the next square on the board? Or will I have a conversation with someone, encounter some level of interest, send out an email and move slowly forward? Or will my phone call actually produce a conversation with a prospective client that is interested right now, ready to schedule a meeting and make something happen – the equivalent of the very famous “pass GO and collect $200”.

This attitude means that I look forward to my days/hours in the office on the phone. I usually make sure I have a great cup of coffee nearby, or a fresh pot of tea. I clear my desk of other distractions and … I have fun.

I wish the same for you! Perhaps you can connect prospecting with a favorite sport or a craft you love or … there’s a lot of possibilities. And if this post inspires you, do leave a comment. It’s possible your discovery will be the perfect solution for someone else, allowing them to “pick up the phone and make things happen”. 

* * *

On June 26, through the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia (ICANS), my friend and colleague Eileen Pease is giving a workshop on depression in the workplace which is open to the public. You can find a description of the workshop here: http://www.eileenpease.com/pdf/talking%20about%20depression.pdf

The cost of this workshop is $330. If you are interested, please contact Eileen directly at epease@dynamiclearning.ca, or the ICANS Professional Development department at 902-425-3291. You can ask for Kathie Slaunwhite – kslaunwhite@icans.ns.ca or Danielle Roode – droode@icans.ns.ca 

One Last Thought 

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. ”

– Stephen King, author

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. NC says: June 4, 2012 • 00:57:10

    I feel when we lose that “child like approach or minds-eye” then things in our life, we stop learning, growing and valuing ourself and others- as “growing creatures” and life ends up feeling like a series of endless chores, from work to home life.
    In my day to day I have the pleasure of working with young clients, who remind me that anything is possible and that attitude is important -because you lead by example, no matter if you are the teacher or the student- really you always need to be a bit of both-to leave some room to growth.
    Attitude plays a big role in setting the intention in everything you do life and who you will become.
    Thanks for sharing Mary Jane!!!

    Reply

  2. Linda Daley says: June 7, 2012 • 12:56:09

    Mary Jane, you know I have this love/hate relationship with my phone. I never have to make cold calls now but the feeling still persists. I spent a good chunk of yesterday on the phone – with colleagues and clients and prospective clients. I had an enjoyable day, wonderful inspiring discussions. Somehow in my head I equate that with not having accomplished much yesterday – which is silly of course because we can accomplish lots without pushing paper and sending emails and checking boxes.

    Reply

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