Was it me?
When a client stops doing business with us, one of the first reactions we have is, was it me? Initially, we start going through the last few transactions and/or conversations we had with them and analyzing our work and maybe even questioning our value. Looking for things we did wrong and what we could have done better. Often playing the “what if” game.
When a client stopped sending transactions to me, I often began beating myself up or things maybe I could have or should have done better.
Wondering if I’d taken their call at 8 p.m., would that have made them happy enough to stay?
What if I’d done that, “thing,” that would have probably gone okay, but was way outside the scope of what I do for clients?
What if I’d responded faster, like that time a client emailed me three times in a row on a Saturday, and I didn’t see it because I was at the beach with my family.
Sure I’d stated my hours in my emails with all clients, and discussed it with them on the phone when they signed up, but what if……..
“What if” or “was it me” is an insidious game we play in our mind that distracts us and causes us to
blame ourselves for things that often we make up about ourselves?
One day, after playing the “was it me” game for a few days I decided to discuss this with my coach, after all, I wasn’t making things better beating myself up. She asked me if I’d spoken to the clients who hadn’t sent a deal in a while to find out what happened? Uh, nope, I hadn’t, I told her and quite frankly wasn’t in the mood for them to attack me. She lovingly persisted with me and said, “what if it wasn’t you”? What if it could be any number of 500 reasons why now isn’t right for them/us and that beating myself up or compromising my values or boundaries wasn’t the solution. Damn, she’s smart, I love having a coach!
Now is time to cue the sound of Oprah saying, “That was a HUGE aha moment for me”.
So, I put on my big girl panties, lit a candle, because that felt like the right thing to do, and picked up the phone. Here’s what I found out after three calls with three different agents:
1) One was seeking what I’ll call a unicorn or mystical creature to help them do everything. He thought a TC did more than what one typically does or feasibly can. This particular client was disappointed that I wouldn’t check his emails and reply to the ones, on his behalf, which was in his inbox relating to the transaction at hand. He said he wanted that and a few other things only a unicorn could provide.
We had a lovely chat about time, work-life balance, and teamwork. I referred this agent to a colleague who has a staffing company to help him find his mystical creature. He was cool, and so I moved onto the next call, the candle still burning.
2) This agent said she was hoping that I would do the negotiating for the repairs. And also needed someone to write up offers as she was so busy on the phone with her leads and listing appointments she didn’t have the time.
We chatted further about what a TC should and shouldn’t do, and in the end, I told her I thought what she needed was a licensed agent on her team and she agreed.
Two calls down – no one was mean (my biggest fear) and so now it was on to the third one of the day.
3) This agent just didn’t want to let go. She was struggling with this, and no matter how much I coached her during the process of a file and attempted to train her to let me do this part and for her to do her part, she simply couldn’t do it.
I asked if I could offer her a book suggestion, she obliged, and I told her about one of my favorite books The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.
WAHOOOOO I survived the three calls and they all went really well. Not only did I get a clear understanding of what changed their decision to do business with me, I was also able to evaluate if there were things that I needed to do to improve a few things in my business. I also was able to completely stop the blame game. And help a few people out along the way – SUCCESS!!!
Over the years I’ve continued to have conversations like this and have had many clients eventually come back. When they realize that the unicorn isn’t out there, or that maybe they weren’t ready for a full time licensed assistant, I was here, available to assist them. And because we both clearly knew what we could do to work together, and no doors were slammed on the way out, it was easy for them to find their way back.
Next time you have a client agent decide to discontinue using you, and you’re wondering why someone has stopped using your marvelous TC services, just pick up the phone and ask if they could tell you why. Sometimes you’ll find there are things you can learn which will help you improve and that’s a good thing. More often than not, you’ll find agents just weren’t ready for your amazing services at this time, but having this conversation keeps the door open and gives them an opportunity to return when they realize how valuable you indeed are to the growth and sanity of their business.
Whatever you do, stop asking if it was you, when you know DAM well it wasn’t!