Why love, good vibes and fluffy bunnies will boost your sales

by Peter Shallard

Why love and fluffy unicorns will boost your sales

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?

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle K March 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Love this. Especially: “I wasn’t taking care of myself and I was cut off from meaning and purpose.” That was a light bulb moment for me– it’s where I am right now in my own work, and seeing that I’m not alone is more helpful than you can know. I definitely need to work on me, too…

Thanks for posting, and cheers to your mojo. Hope you never lose it again. :-)

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Peter Shallard March 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Hey Michelle! I hope you can get it back – I suspect the path lies in reconnecting with the humans you’re doing your *thing* for. Remember what they need. That’s why you do it.

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James Chartrand - Men with Pens March 4, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I know this feeling keenly – it tends to come around once every year or so in relation to my blog, and the readership becomes a faceless crowd. Then I can’t write, I slog through it and start not caring.

Until I reconnect with one person in mind. Suddenly, my engagement opens up, and I remember that if I even help just ONE person with my blog, I’ve fulfilled my goals, hopes and desires.

Inversely, at Damn Fine Words (where I teach copywriting skills to business owners), everything is very individually connected and I become friends with many, many people. (I even got brownies delivered to me one day!) And I love – absolutely LOVE – this course, because it provides me with that human connection and the faces I need to thrive.

Well said, Peter, well written, and well done, you.

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Peter Shallard March 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Yo James, that’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about it in the context of writing for a blog but I can see how the exact same thing happens when you start treating readers as statistics.

*much scratching of imaginary beard*

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Chris Wandel March 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm

James, your work is extremely impressionable. I could look at Mogul Mom all day even though I have hardly interest in it. I actually found you and Peter at the same time when Glen Alsop made reference to high design standards in blogging, I can’t afford you yet but your work has inspired me without you even knowing!

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Peter Thomson March 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Peter, Thanks for sharing this. Even though it seems like the “soft stuff”, gratitude and clarity of purpose are so important to my productivity. If I gradually forget why I’m doing something then I can drift. I find that clarity restores focus.

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Peter Shallard March 4, 2013 at 2:48 pm

hey Peter – fine name you have there – you’re welcome and thanks for stopping by!

“Why” is important. You nailed it.

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Chris Wandel March 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Hey Peter,

I love this post because you’ve basically admitted with ultra transparency that even you can get worn down. Its extremely brave for a blogger to basically tell their readers that they got sick of them after a while. Instead of letting self doubt creep in you reconnected and that gives me hope. Its at this stage that I begin to self doubt, get down about it and start going in different directions. I can see this kind of thing could even cause an identity crisis potentially.

I find this post very comforting. It tells me that we all need to reconnect at some time or other, find the joy we forgot, rediscover our excitement. It also causes me to wonder about the cyclic nature of our personalities. I wouldnt ever fully appreciate summer without having endured winter, so losing your mojo is a necessary evil.

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Peter Shallard March 6, 2013 at 9:31 am

Chris, this is remarkably perceptive.

The longer I’m in business, the more I’m starting to realize that there are some natural cycles to all kinds of things… and “mojo” may be the biggest example. Winter and Summer indeed.

The smart entrepreneur learns to surf the waves for fun and profit… the amateurs fall off the surf board and scramble to find the surface again.

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Bonny Brown March 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Very simply, Peter, I love your words, your honesty and transparency. Very human and easy to connect with. Love the image I have of you “as a small boy” – now imagine my big grin.

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Peter Shallard March 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

hahaha so weird, a bunch of people emailed me about that line too. I guess I should write more tales of my traumatic (read: unbelievably blessed) childhood! :P

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Bob Beverley March 4, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Hi Peter,
A very candid, real and ultimately uplifting bit of writing. thanks. how easy for all of us to forget the human touch. We need a reminder article like this, now and then…

Again, thanks.

bob beverley

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Peter Shallard March 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

Hey Bob!

Thanks for stopping by to comment. I appreciate it :)

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Joy Livingwell March 5, 2013 at 4:37 am

My heartfelt thanks to you for sharing this, Peter. And for the other commenters, as well. It really helps to know that even strong, capable thought leaders such as yourself go through this — I’m not alone.

I’m dealing with an issue in my current startup that, much like yours, skewed my perspective and turned the delight of starting my business into an overwhelming chore and stressful slog. I’m in the process of reconnecting with why I’m doing this, and adjusting my business model and practices to more fully embody that why.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Dr. Paddi Lund’s idea that just as a business can be designed to make money, it can be designed to create happiness. Now I’m redesigning my business with that in mind. (Helpful resource: Paddi’s book Building the Happiness-Centred Business, available at paddilund.com.) I’ve also made it priority to figure out now, in advance, how to make my business scale so success in the business will create success in my life, not overwhelm me.

Thanks so much for sharing with such courage and integrity. You made a big difference today, for a bunch of people — me included.

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Peter Shallard March 6, 2013 at 9:37 am

Ah yes, I know this feeling Joy.

I’ve been the owner of a business model that rewarded “success” with even more hard work. It creates all kinds of f***ed up self sabotage, because your Unconscious Mind knows that the behaviors you’re forcing yourself to do (sales, growth etc) are only going to result in more pain. So, it starts digging it’s heels into the sand – then you interpret this as “procrastination” and start dragging it, kicking and screaming, toward that “success” that you don’t even really want.

*sigh*

At least you’re aware of this. When you see it, you suddenly see how easy it is to build a business where more success means MORE freedom and happiness, not less.

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