Updated: Sep 5
Glen was getting more disappointed by the week. His lawn care business wasn't that large, but he needed to get clients for this coming spring, or he wouldn't be able to grow.
A month ago, Glen hired a business coach named Coach Russ. Russ told him that he needed to start working ON the business instead of IN the business, so he hired a new saleswoman, Lucy. Lucy was supposed to make phone calls each week and he would gain new clients so that he could grow his landscaping business for the next season.
It had been a month, and Lucy hadn't gained one client. This was not the way it was supposed to work. How could Glen focus on other parts of his business, when he was paying a saleswoman who wasn't producing? His coaching session was coming up with Coach Russ, and he was prepared to give Russ a piece of his mind.
As usual, Coach Russ started the coaching session call with a question about Glen's homework, "How is your new saleswoman working out?"
Glen snapped, "Glad you asked Russ. It's terrible! Lucy has been making ten calls a day and getting voicemail. The small percentages of returned callers aren't interested in a landscaping contract."
Russ calmly responded, "What's your expectation for Lucy's performance?"
"I need to get at least two new clients each month to justify hiring Lucy. I was hoping that she could do a lot better than that."
"We discussed this in your business plan. In order for your to meet your business plan goals, what quantity of new clients do you NEED from Lucy?"
"I NEED four new clients per month to meet our business plan projections. But I don't see how Lucy will get there at this rate."
"If you were to give me your three top reasons that Lucy is not achieving the results you'd like, what would they be?"
"I guess she’s probably not as good at sales as I thought when I hired her. Maybe I need to replace her with someone else. Or maybe I need to just cut my losses and start selling myself. At least I won't be spending money on a salesperson who can't sell."
"Glen, do you remember our discussion on Energy?"
"Yeah. What does that have to do with Lucy?"
"Glen, Energy is not just an idea that’s true for you, it's an idea that applies to your employees as well."
"I never thought of it that way."
"Given, what you learned about energy, what energy level do you think Lucy’s currently selling at?"
"Can you remind me about the levels again?"
"Sure. Level 1 is Victim; Level 2 is Conflict; Level 3 is Acceptance; Level 4 is Compassion; Level 5 is Opportunity; Level 6 is Synergy; and Level 7 is Awareness."
Glen paused, and then answered, "I'm not sure. I don't know how this energy stuff is going to get Lucy to sell landscaping contracts."
"What if we set up a meeting with Lucy? I'll show you how to identify the level of energy she’s operating at; and how shifting her energy level will improve her sales performance. Make sense?"
"I suppose. What should I tell Lucy? We're going to check out her energy?"
"Please don't say that. Just tell Lucy, we'd like to help her perform better on her sales calls."
A week had gone by, and Lucy had the same lack-luster performance in her phone calls. Russ, Glen and Lucy met in a small conference room in Glen's office space. Based on Lucy's demeanor, it was clear this was not the first time she’d been in a meeting with a consultant and a boss regarding her sales performance.
Russ started, "Lucy, I want to let you know that we're here to help. Glen has expressed concerns to me about needing to get more sales, and I think I may be able to help. I'll be asking you questions and need you to be perfectly honest with your answers. Otherwise, we’re all wasting our time. Do we have a deal?"
Lucy responded, "Sure."
Russ said, "All of us humans start our actions with a thought. We then follow up that thought with a feeling, and then that feeling prompts us to act in some way. Regarding your calls with prospective customers. Before you ever get on the phone, what are you thinking?"
Lucy looked confused, "What am I thinking?"
"Yes. What do you tell yourself before you make a phone call?"
"I tell myself, ‘I hope this customer signs up for landscaping services'"
"Okay. I think we are getting thoughts and feelings mixed up. Hope is a feeling. What is the thought that precedes your feeling of hope?"
The room was silent as Glen and Russ awaited Lucy's answer.
After a long pause, Lucy replied, "I guess I am THINKING, 'I should get sales because Glen told me if I make 10-calls a day, I should get at least one customer that engages in a conversation, and I should sell at least one landscaping contract a week.'"
Russ responded, "Got it. Let me get this straight. Glen told you that you need to make a certain amount of calls, and those calls will result in one customer per week, and so you have hope before each call that you’ll get sales with the calls you're making, right?"
"I guess so. That's what you said... isn't it Glen?"
Glen was watching this confusing conversation until his name was mentioned, "Yeah! That's what I said alright."
Russ continued, "I want to make sure that we stick to our thought, feeling and action story. We've got the thought, and the feeling. And, I think we all know what the action is at this point. It sounds like you’re getting voicemail, and only getting one message returned each week. Is that right?"
Lucy responded, "Yip. Only one returned call... and they’re calling me to tell me to stop calling."
Russ said, "Got it. Now, Lucy, I want you to think of a different and more positive thought than the one that you have currently."
Lucy squinted her eyes, "What?"
"You said that you currently think 'you should get sales if you follow Glen's instructions on phone calls". What is a more positive thought than that?"
"I don't get it. Isn't an employee supposed to do what her boss tells her to do?"
"If you do everything Glen tells you to do, but don't gain one client, how long will you be employed?"
Lucy tensed up, "You want me to do something different than what Glen is telling me?"
"I want you to take control of your success as a saleswoman. I'll ask again, what is a more positive thought that you can have before you make a call, than following Glen's advice of 10-calls per day?"
"I could try to make 20-calls per day. Is that what you mean?"
"Let's back up a little. Why are you making these calls?"
"To sell Glen's landscaping services."
"True enough. Why will a prospective customer want to hire Glen to do their landscaping?"
"I suppose they want to have their grass cut on a regular basis; and they're too lazy to do it themselves."
Russ could see that Lucy needed to shift her thinking to think more positively about Glen's prospective customers, "I want you both to talk and come up with three key needs your customers have for your landscaping services; and how your service will uniquely satisfy those needs. I want you to then put yourself in the shoes of this needy customer and feel how it feels to not have quality service. After that, I want you to create a phone script that speaks specifically to these needs."
Glen was writing furiously, as he always did, when Russ dealt out his homework.
The next week, Glen, Russ, and Lucy all reconvened in the conference room.
Glen started, "Russ, I hope you know what you're doing. We wasted an entire week working on your homework; and didn't make one phone call."
Russ smiled, "It sounds like you made as much progress as you did the week before."
Glen chuckled, "I guess so. I just hope we can get some customers this coming week."
Russ turned his attention to Lucy, "I'll ask you again, what thought will you have before you make your phone call this coming week?"
Lucy smiled, "After all the homework, Glen and I did this past week, I think I have a better understanding of why customers will hire us to do their landscaping. I have changed my phone script to talk about the benefits we offer; instead of asking them to return my call."
"That's great. However, I want you to tell me what your prospective customer is thinking before you make a call."
Glen started, then Russ held up his hand, "I want Lucy to tell me."
Glen gestured to Lucy, and she spoke up, "We talked about how they don't have time to take care of their yard; but they also want their yard to look nice when they use it on the weekends."
"Great, Lucy! What are you thinking before you make your call?"
"I'm thinking about an ugly yard that I want to make beautiful before the weekend, and how I don't have time to do anything with the yard."
"Awesome! Let me know what that makes you feel like before you make your call?"
"I feel empathetic to these poor people that can't take care of their yard."