It's hard to deny that confidence is attractive. Whether in a social or corporate setting, those who exude inner confidence come across as bolder, more resilient, magnetic, and authentic. They pull others in.

Desperation, on the other hand, is NOT those things. Desperation, figuratively and literally, stinks and pushes people away.

Our sense of confidence waxes and wanes over time; we need to do everything we can to maintain it at a consistently high level. At the very least, we must stop ourselves from falling into the depths of desperation.

Two scenarios create sales desperation. When we remain vigilant, and we must, we can avoid the desperation trap.

Losing a client

"Hey, you. We appreciate everything you have done for us over these past many years, but we have decided to go in a different direction."

Nobody wants to find that message in their inbox or on the other end of a phone call coming from a client. We take it personally; it feels like a punch to the gut. 

If you thought you were going to get one of those emails/calls from one of your best clients on Friday, what would you do between now and then to try and save them? Think about the mad rush and rash of promises you made the last time you tried to save a client. It wasn’t your finest moment, was it?

No matter how well you feel you handled the situation, your desperate response only validated the decision in your client’s mind. They were left asking themselves, “Where was this effort all along?”

It probably won’t be Friday, but you will eventually lose every client you have. As much as you like to think you own the relationships, you are only renting them.

Being fired by a client throws you into the depths of desperation for two primary reasons. One, you are suddenly questioning your value as an advisor. Two, you are panicked because you’re not sure how you will replace them.

Avoiding the value trap

 Avoiding the self-doubt from feeling your value is less than adequate starts with taking an inventory. Go through your list of clients one by one and ask yourself, “Am I delivering the results to them they want and need? Am I and the rest of our team giving them our best?”

Your clients deserve your best effort every day, not just as a last-ditch effort to retain them.

Even when you give them your best effort, you'll still lose clients. It’s inevitable; it's part of the sales game you play. However, it should never be because you performed to any standard less than your best.

As part of your engagement with clients, define what their expectations are of you as an advisor. Don’t let the expectations be limited to handling their renewal and “providing good service.”

Expand those expectations to include the variety of problems you can help solve – compliance, benefits administration, employee communication, etc. Set specific goals and identify action items (our coaching clients refer to it as a Plan of Improvement) for the year for addressing the problems. Make this overall plan a part of your regular progress reports with the client.

When your clients participate in defining how you will help them, understand the action items in place to drive that improvement, and then watch your consistent and measurable progress, they are much less likely to engage in conversations with your competition.

Avoiding the pipeline trap

There is no greater source of confidence as a salesperson than a healthy pipeline. On the flip side of that coin, there is no greater driver of desperation than an empty pipeline.

The “pipeline roller coaster” is unavoidable to a degree. However, you need to smooth out the high highs and low lows, especially the lows.

When your pipeline is dry, you carry an air of desperation in everything you do. You chase the wrong opportunities, squeeze the few you have too tightly, and cede control of conversations to the buyer.

On top of that, knowing you don't have anything to replace them with, your desperation starts to stink up conversations with current clients, which often leads to the "losing a client" desperation I just shared.

Determine what a healthy pipeline looks like for you and commit to maintaining yours at that level. Make this a top priority. And, like all priorities, commit uninterrupted time on your calendar every week to keep your confidence high.

There will still be bad days

Losing a client should always make for a bad day. If it doesn't, shame on you for not firing THEM sooner. However, losing a client should never turn into a bad week, month, or quarter. If it does, shame on you for not giving them all you had and not having a healthier pipeline.


Photo by baweg