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Why – exactly – are you procrastinating?

August 7, 2011
Mary Jane Copps

So far, my most cherished lesson through The Phone Lady is a deeper understanding and appreciation for how different we all are from each other. It amazes and humbles me when I am present enough in conversation or in a workshop or coaching session, to set aside my own notions and judgements, and truly understand someone else’s perceptions.

Here’s a case in point:

I’m currently coaching someone new to the real estate industry and they recently had a property sell conditionally. The conditional offer does not take the property offline, so they continue to receive a few calls from prospective buyers. During a recent conversation, the agent revealed that they had not returned those calls.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking. I’ll sum it up with “How is that possible?” For many of us, it is obvious that these calls should be returned promptly but for others, these types of calls are difficult. Why? Because the elements of such a call don’t weave together for them easily; they can’t hear the conversation in their head, so they become too nervous, perhaps even afraid, to make the call. They are so unsure of how to communicate with this prospect , perhaps turn them into a possible client, that they commit a very serious error – doing nothing.

And before you think you are immune to this behaviour, take a moment and think about it. We have all been in situations – such as calling our banker or a friend that owes us money or someone to whom we had to say “no” – where making the call was tremendously difficult. We couldn’t hear the conversation in our head so … we procrastinated!

The most important lesson in this situation is … placing the call is more important than anything you will actually say to the prospect.

Really?

Yes, really. We all work with people we trust and our first tentative test of whether we can trust someone is often connected to how and when they return our phone calls. By not returning the call, the agent was inadvertently saying they were unreliable, uninterested, untrustworthy, unprofessional. Of course, this isn’t true, but actions do speak louder.

Once my client understood the importance of returning the calls, we then honed in on their exact fear – not knowing what to say.

Not having the right words is a big fear for many people. All of us want to be good – even great – communicators. Picking up the phone and being tongue-tied, or sounding foolish, is often at the core of why we procrastinate on returning calls. In this specific case, the agent was afraid of sounding like an aggressive, pushy salesperson, like the characters in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross.

But once you identify your exact fear, the specific reason for your procrastination, you can then solve the problem.

In this case we came up with two possible scenarios:

1)Call the potential client and give them only the facts – that the property has a conditional offer, that it might come back on the market, that you will stay in touch with them and let them know the outcome. This lends itself easily to a voicemail message and delivers the prospect’s expectations of trust and professionalism.

2)Same as above but make sure you speak with the prospect and once you have delivered the facts say something like “Are you comfortable telling me a bit more about why that property interests you?” This lets the prospect decide if they want to build a relationship with you or not.

Neither of these scenarios are pushy or aggressive, which is my client’s biggest fear. Once the exact reason for procrastinating was identified, a solution was easy to find.

So … what are you procrastinating on? Do you know the exactreason why?

Enjoy your phonework!

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