You Suck – At Saying No

How do I know you suck at saying no?  We all do.  It’s part of the human condition. But if you are going to build your Voluntary Benefits business into something that provides you true abundance, you are going to have to get much better at saying no.  That’s not just my opinion.  James and Claudia Altucher, in their book The Power of No, make a compelling case that the word ‘no’ can bring you health, abundance and happiness. (To find out more about “The Power of No” just click on the picture of the cover.)  Apparently Nancy Reagan was right!  We can, “Just say no…..”

Just say no

On Monday I wrote about the power of what I call the “one more.”  (Read it here.) In fact, I gave you my 8 “One Mores” that make all the difference.”  So I think it’s only fair that I give you 8 things you must remove from your business to experience abundance. After all, the great sculptor Michelangelo was quoted as saying, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”  In other words, he felt that the angle wouldn’t be perfect until every ounce of marble that didn’t belong was gone. The only way to remove the following 8 things is to just say no to them.

Tim’s 8 Things To Say No To

1. Allowing emotions and feelings to determine your prospecting activity. – Let’s face it, if you wait until you feel good, the stars are aligned, the birds are chirping, the sun in shining and it’s not too hot or too cold to go prospecting, you aren’t ever headed out!  Zig Ziglar said, “You must act your way into feeling.  You can not feel your way into action.”

2. Hanging out with low producers. – Every office has a few of these guys and gals lurking in the phone lab and break room.  They have been “working” there for 6, 9, 18 months or more and haven’t sold enough to pay an Amish person’s phone bill.  Yet they will happily give you advice on what you are doing wrong.  Run away from these people.

3. A scarcity worldview. – Keynesian economists claim that the pie is only so big.  Therefore they believe that everything is a zero-sum game.  The only way for me to win is for you to lose.  They are dead wrong.  When I owned my Domino’s Pizza store in Olympia Washington, Papa Johns opened a store less than a quarter mile from mine.  I was devastated when my sales dropped from $20,000 a week to $12,000 the first full week they were open.  By the third week we were back to $17,000 and within 90 days we were again flirting with $20,000.  They must have been hurting right?  Nope!  One of my former employees was working there and he let me see their P&L from time-to-time.  They were also flirting with $20,000 weeks.  By coming into the market, aggressive advertising, and community involvement, they had actually increased the demand for pizza!  It is true that a rising tide lifts all ships.

4. High maintenance clients. – Did you know you can fire a client? If their business is more hassle than it is worth, don’t put up with it.  Perhaps another agent would be able to get along better with the Decision Maker.  Protect your renewals by recusing yourself.  Not every client is right for YOU.  I know this will come as a shock to most of you, but did you know there are people that don’t like me?  Hard to believe, I know!  But as my dad taught me a long time ago, you should never try to teach a pig to sing.  It just annoys the pig and wastes your time.

5. Maybes. – You have to learn how to say ‘no’ to maybes.  I promise the maybes will kill you in this business!!!  I have a friend that begins every Decision Maker presentation with this exact phrase, “When we get done meeting today, you are going to have come to one of two conclusions: 1) You understand why so many other companies have adopted our Voluntary Benefits programs and it makes sense to do that here at your company. Or 2) You understand why so many other companies have adopted our Voluntary Benefits programs but for some reason it doesn’t make sense to do that here at your company.  I suppose the 3rd option is that you might tell me you have to think about it. What I have found though is that almost every time a Decision Maker tells me they have to think about it, they are just too polite to tell me no.  I promise, I’m a big boy and can take the no.  Would you do me a huge favor? If you aren’t convinced that this is right for your company, could you just please tell me no so I don’t have to bug you by trying to follow-up?”

6. Voluntary enrollment meetings. – I will never understand why an agent would allow themselves to waste everyone’s time (including their own) to sit in a break room and hope that some employees wander into their path.  If you can’t educate 100% of the employees (I call this Access) and then meet with them again where they have to make a decision one way or the other, (I call this Control) don’t waste your time.  When I teach this concept in a seminar, I spend almost 2 hours going through the need for Access and Control and creative ways to get it.  I could just as easily teach the class in 10 seconds.  I would come into the training facility and say this, “Either you get really good at gaining Access and Control or you won’t be here long enough for me to learn your name! Class dismissed.”

7. Any activities during “Green Time” that don’t include “The 3 Priorities Top Producers Understand.” (Read the fantastic article by Joe Buzzello here.) If it’s 9:30 a.m on a Tuesday and you are making packets, working on a spreadsheet, organizing the business cards you have collected alphabetically by industry type, or any other thing that isn’t one of the three things Joe lays out in his article, you are killing your chances for success.  It’s that simple….

8. Destructive habits. – Sales people are notorious for working hard and then playing hard.  I certainly understand the desire/need to blow off steam from time-to-time.  The challenge I have for you is: How can you channel that energy into something that might be constructive instead of destructive? Honestly, taking out your frustrations at the gym will do you much more good than hitting happy hour 5 nights a week.  Or watching 4 hours of TV a day (like most Americans).  Or eating anything from a drive through because you are too tired to cook.  One of the leaders on my team recently gave up alcohol on week nights and he says the results have been nothing short of amazing.  He has more energy, is reading an hour a day, feels he is a better husband and father, and the list goes on.  Please understand that he wasn’t a raging alcoholic.  He was only drinking one or sometimes two beers in an evening, but it was making him sluggish.  What destructive habit can you give up that would make a difference?


Conclusion:  If you are going to add the “one mores” that I talked about on Monday, you have to make room for them somehow.  The best way to do that is to get rid of these 8 things.

Question: I’m sure I have missed a few things to say “no to” in this article.  What are they?  Please leave your suggestions in the comments section in the top left corner of this article.  Or if you are reading this by email, just hit the reply button on your email program right now and respond.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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