Proactive Customer Communication & Bike Riding

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAY9AAAAJGI0MWQ4YTExLTczZGItNGMxMS1iNmY4LTFiYTk0YWRhNGI0OQI know the headline sounds bizarre but bizarre as it sounds, there is a great link between the two as I figured out over the weekend.

Let me begin by saying that, Friday was probably not the best day for me to get this email; an email from my manager. He wanted me to talk to our Financial Planning Team, about the importance of proactive outbound communication, which is perhaps the lifeblood of any customer focused business.

Now ,the gentleman does show a lot of trust in me with such tasks and most of the times, I relish such situations. This time however, his trust seemed a little misplaced because for once, I was NOT going to talk from a position of strength. I had just come back to work after time-off due to illness and my own activity report was appalling to say the least. As a matter of fact it looked chaotic.

However, as Sun-Tzu said, “In the midst of chaos, there is also anopportunity”, and it was indeed an opportunity for me, to introspect.  It led me to ask myself, questions about How, Why & What I should be doing. Overburdened with too many questions I figured that the How and What will take care of themselves as long as the Why is answered. So the real question to myself was Why am I doing  what I am doing or more aptly, Why am I not doing what I should  be doing?

Over the weekend, I thought about it and hit road blocks aplenty. I researched, I read, I asked others but nothing. Nothing, until I sat down with my kids to watch my childhood favorite TV show, where a 5 year old Michelle had just learnt how to ride a bike. Right away, my older son reminded my younger one about his limitation of bike-riding at ripe age of 8 and all hell broke loose.

As I jumped in to stop the ruckus, I asked little Aaryn, “Why don’t you learn to ride though? His answer was, “I haven’t ridden in so long that I don’teven know where to start!” 

This was the moment of enlightenment for me and I thought to myself,” But this is exactly true in regards to what I am going through with my activities ?”Thanks to the little man, I just figured out that Bike riding was not much different than making my calls and performing the regular proactive communication.

Allow me to elaborate, Bike riding is easy when you push with one foot and follow up with the other. There is a continuous motion, a continuous cycle but once that cycle stops, you have to restart. For that, you need a real hard push or a thrust and pedal harder until the regular motion comes back. Same is the case with your activities. If you keep doing them with consistency, they keep working fine and keep yielding success but once you break the cycle, it takes real effort to get things rolling again. So the number one rule for bike riding as well as for proactive communication activities is  “Don’t break the cycle!”

The more I thought about it, the more I realized the similarities in both me and my son’s predicament and in our barriers towards success. Funnily enough the strategies to overcome these barriers were also very similar.  Let me share these with you:

Barrier 1: I would Ride/ Call if I knew it was going to work

Strategy: Actually, it will work if you start. The mantra is, just do it anyway. The best example is the one we have all experienced one time or another. A morning when you really did not want to go to the gym at Five ‘o’ clock but went anyway, grumbling and lethargic. Once you hoped on to the treadmill peevishly, things changed and the juices started flowing, and that’s when you asked yourself, “Why was I even thinking about missing today”. There are days when you feel that the leads are worthless. There is no point in picking up that phone because nothing will come off it. But all you have to tell yourself at such a time is, I will do it anyway. Before you know it, with one good call, you will start enjoying it and then carry on with it.

Barrier 2: I have no Motivation to Ride/Call

Strategy: This one is easy, find the motivation! Everyone’s motivation is different. For my son it was the fact that it will end the banter from his elder brother for good. For you it may be setting an exemplary customer reach-out record that you could to be proud off!

Barrier 3: I don’t have time to Ride/Call

Strategy: The key here is getting organized. My son goes to Taekwondo thrice a week, and has swimming lesson on the Monday. Friday is a movie evening so  basically, evenings are out of question. We have decided that as soon as the snow gives way to real spring, we will practice an hour each on Saturday and Sunday. As for the calls, one of the suggestion I have benefited from in the past is 10@10. You block your calendar and make 10 calls every day  religiously at 10 am in the morning. At this time you are full of energy and clients and prospects are receptive. It would also mean that you are never lagging behind in your activities and playing a catch up game which generally deteriorates the quality of activities

Barrier 4: I am scared of Falling/Calling

Strategy:  This is where you have to once again look towards your motivation. We know that magic happens once you step out of your comfort zone and the only thing that can pull you out of your comfort zone is what motivates you. Make sure you answer the question of, why am I doing it and that would most certainly get rid of all the fears. Including the fear of rejection. Just remember that all calls are successful; you either earn from them or learn from them. There is no wasted call

Barrier 5: Should I focus on balancing the Handlebar/ Business orPedals/Prospecting? 

Strategy: The short and simple answer is Both Concentrate on either one and the chances are that you will regret it fairly soon. Maintaining this balance is certainly an art and requires lots of practice. You will only get good at it if, first of all you keep this in your mind all the time and secondly keep working on it.

Barrier 6: Why pedal when you are going Downhill/ Walk-in business 

Strategy: Well, because you won’t be going downhill all the time. Things change and they change fast. If you don’t practice your skills, you will lose them or at the very least get rusted.. Cold calling for instance, is something that helps you think on your feet and if you don’t do it all the time, it can become difficult when you actually need to do it. You will find many examples of individuals who got complacent and stopped their activities only to later on regret and restart on them. The better option would be to stay consistent with your everyday efforts.

Barrier 7: I don’t believe I can ride without Training wheels/ Helpin Scripting 

Strategy: There is no shame in asking for help. If you think you need help with scripts, ask your colleagues or managers.  Listen on to others calling or doing activities, practice and then ask for feedback. What you need is to buy into the belief that you can do it and you will be able to successfully do it. It may take time and you may have to start slowly and steadily but before you know it you will be riding without training wheels and calling without fears!!!

Well I am sure, both me and my son can move forward in our endeavors with these mantras for success and hope that this will benefit others who come across it too.

Cheers !!!

Vic Gill

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