Prospecting: How to end analysis paralysis

By Sandy Schussel

Sandy Schussel, LLC


Regardless of the particular paralyzing fear that is keeping you from doing what you need to do, there are strategies to help you get what you want.

I often start a seminar by asking for a show of hands from professionals and entrepreneurs who have enough quality clients — who don't need any more. Usually, one or two people raise their hands. If there are a hundred people in the room, however, that means that 98 percent of them do not have enough clients (or enough good ones).

I usually follow this first question with another: Why not? Why don't they have the clients they want? Almost immediately after that, the discussion on this issue gets lively. The excuses run wild:

"I'm too busy to spend time finding new clients," one proclaims. "I have no way of getting my message out — nothing works," declares another. "Nobody seems to need my services," another insists.

Finally, a few speak up and admit the real reasons we often don't have the clients (or jobs) we really want:
  • We don’t know what to do to get beyond the success we’ve already had,

  • We do know what to do, but we’re afraid to do it, or

  • We haven't chosen to commit.
I'd like to spend a few minutes on the second bullet — the fear issue.

You know you need to pick up the telephone and call people, or businesses, that might need your services, but you have: 1) fear of being rejected, or (2) fear of being embarrassed — of making a fool of yourself.

You're too paralyzed with fear to make those calls, so you find "important" paperwork to do, rather than picking up the phone.

These are just two of the seven most paralyzing fears. The others include 3) fear of failing, 4) fear of making the wrong decision, 5) fear of being unworthy, 
6) fear of not being ready/capable and 
7) fear of success.

Maybe we need to prepare a presentation and we're so paralyzed with fear (of failing or of success) that we go into "analysis paralysis" — doing endless research, but not actually getting anything done.

Regardless of the particular paralyzing fear that is keeping you from doing what you need to do, there are strategies to help you get what you want.

One of the most effective is to take one small action — any action — in the direction of what you want. Put together a list of your most likely prospects and gather all of the information you will need in front of you to make your calls. Just do that. Don't actually make any calls yet, but make the first move.
Or, pick a stopping point in your research where you'll effectively be ready to draft that presentation, but don't worry about drafting it yet.

An accountant client recently revealed to me that he had a secret desire to do something really creative — he wanted to become a stand-up comedian! He believed he had a knack for comedy, and I have to admit that on our calls, he had me in stitches. But when I challenged him to schedule time to try his routine at a comedy club, he refused. He was too paralyzed to go out and do it.

Instead, I got him to agree to enroll in a stand-up class offered through a local continuing education program. That small step got him out of his head and into the game, and started him down the road to realizing a vision he had spent years denying himself.

Will he ever actually do his routine in a club? I believe that he will at some point. (I'm not sure he realizes yet that one of the requirements of the class is to spend five minutes up on stage with your material...)

Will you actually pick up the phone and call those prospective clients you've been afraid to call? Start thinking about it, but plan a time to stop. Then, break your analysis paralysis with one small, real step. Start brainstorming names. Write yourself a loose script, or create a spreadsheet. Block out some time in tomorrow morning's schedule. Take that one step, whatever it is, and then let yourself stop again. Treat every step along the way like this, and before you know it, you'll be in motion.