It’s extremely difficult for me to write this article. Rather, it was difficult. The reason you’re reading this now is that it just became easy. I just “got” it, so now I can articulate it.
I can share this thing that has been brewing for quite some time.
One of the biggest blockages that gets between an entrepreneur and her sales (that fickle conversion ratio of Strangers into Customers) is a lack of hugs, rainbows, fluffy unicorns and other good vibes.
Allow me to explain…
For about three months, I was totally cursed. And blessed.
Blessed because I have a business where qualified prospects show up on my virtual doorstep on a daily basis. Blessed because my clients find me.
I was cursed, because I couldn’t help them. I was suffering from a severe case of lost-mojo-itis.
Each morning, I would wake up to see the pile of “Clarity Couch” Questionnaires my assistant had scheduled me to complete that day. This is the free, ask-me-anything therapy test drive that I use to determine the appropriateness of a client/me relationship.
It’s my sales funnel and it was broken. I was broken.
Each morning, I would wake up and see a pile of chores. Obligation. Work.
I had started to see prospective enquiries the same way that I, as a small boy, saw the pile of firewood my mother once asked me to stack. One giant prickly smelly bug-infested piece at a time.
I hated it.
The feeling started bleeding over into other things. I looked at my website’s analytics and thought: Low. These should be higher. What’s wrong? This time last year I had more traffic. What’s my biggest referral source? What’s happening?
I did the same as I checked my list statistics. I worried over opt-in rates and click throughs.
I looked at pie charts. I stressed about ratios. I dreaded the ceaseless flow of inbound email – characters on a screen asking me for help.
I invented a new disease and diagnosed myself with it:
Entrepreneurial Apathy. Symptoms include: A lack of caring or empathy for one’s fellow man, low desire to communicate with others, extended periods of distraction-seeking behavior (video games, TV etc), morbidly muddling over statistics and reduced social contact.
I’m lucky enough to be the beneficiary of years of (deep!) conditioning that mean that when I start a client consult, I switch into another “mode”. I find my mojo within that hour without even trying.
That was still happening, but everywhere else Entrepreneurial Apathy crept in. I was procrastinating and beating myself up. When I did do work it never “flowed”. It was always a struggle.
It got worse before it got better. I’m sure you can imagine.
The change came when I started working on me. I identified that I had strayed far, far away from the place where I get inspired and do my best work. At times, it almost felt like I had forgotten why I started my business. I wasn’t taking care of myself and I was cut off from meaning and purpose.
The first step that turned the tide was reconnecting with gratitude. Maybe it’s egotistical, but I reconnected with pride in myself. I watched the film Steve made with my clients for the first time in months. I emailed old clients to check in on how they were doing (delightful results, thank you for asking – never better, because of our work!) and I started paying attention to the amazing things users were saying about their coaches at Commit Action.
Slowly, I remembered why I’m here.
The revolution began the night that I sat down with a stack of client enquires and felt the familiar feeling of “ugh”. It was very familiar, but this time something caught my eye.
At the top right corner of the software we use to manage in-bound enquiries, I spotted the date and time stamp. A little piece of irrelevant data I never bothered looking at.
Turns out this one person had written to me at 4:36am. I knew they weren’t in Australia on a bright sunny morning, because they mentioned where they were based. This was for real. Someone was asking for my help at 4:36am.
I read their name, not because I needed to say it in my recorded mp3 response. I read it because I wanted to know who they were. I tried to imagine what this person looked like, what they felt like, when they sat down to fill out my questionnaire at 4:36am. I wondered what they did that evening, where they were a few hours earlier and what had transpired that day.
In other words, I humanized them.
For the first time in three months, I saw a prospective enquiry for what it really is:
Another human, somewhere on this planet, looking for help with their business. One of the most important things in their life.
The problem is that I can sort these humans, in groups of 50 per screen, to display by: Date-submitted, alphabetical order or whichever way I please. I can export them in a spreadsheet. I can cross check them against my blog’s email database. I can sort them by the demographic data they provide.
If you think for a second that internet marketers are alone in dehumanizing their customers this way, you’re wrong.
Every business does it.
You do it whenever you talk about closing ratios, end of month and quarterly profit. “Revenue” is the word you use to transform the act of strangers giving you their trust and money, into a statistic.
As entrepreneurs, we do need these things. There are wizards who can take data and make it do amazing tricks – it can teach us things we don’t know about our businesses. And ourselves.
This comes at a price. When we see people as numbers, we lose the connection. We lose the good vibes. The fluffy warmth. The cuddles. The humanity.
When we see people as numbers alone, we lose the meaning in what we do. The only thing left to lose is ourselves. Inevitably that happens too.
My mojo returned tenfold when I found that fluffy, warm and cuddly feeling. It’s been here ever since. Love and rainbows – I swear by the stuff. Sales are up, business is accelerating and opportunities are unfolding into results at an enigmatic pace.
When I open up the Clarity Couch database and ask “Who’ve we got today?” I linger for a second over the names, the times the entries were submitted and the spelling errors that reveal passion and haste.
I hold the inquiry in my heart. I see through the screen to the human on the other side. I smile and thank my lucky stars I have the opportunity to assist this person.
How do you do it?