What happens when rain does not fall for a professional service provider?
Here’s a glimpse into moments of my “private hell” of some years ago that you may or may not recognize in your world…
I discovered that I was not alone in my despair as a professional service provider. There were many others who were terrified by the responsibility of generating their own revenue. They were overwhelmed by the realization that, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
Learning more about coaching allowed me to admit to my own fears, and it became easier to recognize those fears in others as I encountered people in my own network. I began to study the emotions within myself and others with a morbid fascination. I eventually could give a name to these wretched feelings that occur when transition conspires with the sudden “you are the brand” reality-it can create a full-blown identity crisis.
I named these horrible beings, these embodied fears “The Saboteurs.”
I started to share my experiences with the dreaded Saboteurs in my weekly newsletters, which I called the Monday Morning Referral Tips. I chose to publish on Mondays as I knew, all too well, that the Saboteurs routinely attacked unsuspecting business professionals on Monday mornings, as they tried to plan their week.
As I developed my Monday morning following, I stopped being surprised when seemingly confident colleagues-other professional service providers, such as lawyers, accountants, engineers, architects, business consultants and coaches-would approach me at events to tell me that I had really “put my finger on their agony” in the most recent tip.
At one event (some time ago now), I found myself sandwiched between an accountant and a lawyer, both of whom were pouring their hearts out to me at the same time about their own personal Saboteurs.
I learned the term “rainmaker” from them and came to realize that reaching the partner level of a professional service firm has as much to do with the partner’s ability to create new business for the firm as it does with that person’s technical ability to practice professionally. “Ah,” I thought, “so working at a “big name” professional service organization does not necessarily exempt you from a sales role.”
I thought of all of the people who went into the professional service world to avoid sales, only to discover that they had run straight into the very fate that they had tried so hard to avoid. They had to become a brand while working in a corporation. How surprising and unsettling for them. This was definitely not what they had signed up for, after years of extra study and sacrifice to earn their accreditation.
More recently, I began to embrace my responsibility of being the public voice of the private hell of those who have the courage to be their own brand. I continued writing my weekly Monday Morning Referral Tips, helping business professionals grow their new business development acumen and warning them about the Saboteurs. In the Saboteurs’ honour (or dishonour), I developed my training and coaching curricula to help business professionals grow their networking, referral-building and sales-closing skills so they would have an ongoing program to truly manage their Saboteurs.
And yet, with the fresh arrival of every new client, I have been reminded of the Saboteurs. Always, always, the Saboteurs have made themselves known in so many ways within the inner landscapes of my clients. They manifest themselves quietly in the form of my clients’ dislike of networking or, more powerfully, in a crippling fear of ever, ever, making sales calls by themselves. Their results tell the unfortunate story.
I knew that it was time to collect all of the Saboteurs that I had learned about from my clients, and from my own rich personal experience, and expose them for the dangerous, undermining creatures that they are.
By warning you as a business professional of the Saboteurs’ inevitable arrival when you become the brand, it is my goal to help you understand your real journey and prepare accordingly with coaching and training programs that will ensure your success. And, ultimately, I want to help you to embrace new business development activities joyfully.
An excerpt from my book, Stop the Saboteurs: Conquer Negative Thoughts that Hurt Your Revenue and Your Brand, pp 12-13