Deliver extraordinary value to prospects before being direct

By Sandy Schussel

Sandy Schussel, LLC

“I think I ought to go back to the way I was doing it before,” Ron, an advisor in Nevada, wrote to me in his weekly check-in email. He had just taken advantage of an opportunity to teach a one-session evening class on financial concepts for a local college’s adult education program.

One of Ron’s challenges was that he rarely asked directly for an appointment. Instead, he would passively offer to sit down with someone, hoping they’d get the hint — a strategy that just wasn’t working.

In anticipation of this event, I suggested that he announce to his attendees that he had already set aside two days the following week during which he could meet with any of them who wanted to explore their situations. He would instruct them to approach him right at the end of his program in order to schedule their appointments.

Ron continued his report to me:

“I tried being more direct with everyone about setting an appointment with me afterwards, but nobody did.”

His conclusion: “People don’t want me to be so direct.”

A few hours later, Ron received this email from one of his attendees:


I wish you had given us more valuable information and not spent so much time promoting your business. I would have liked to get some beneficial information along with stories and facts to illustrate your subject. Then, you could have asked for questions before letting people know you were available to make appointments.



Ron sent this email to me as his proof that the direct approach isn’t a good one for him.

But Betty wasn’t complaining about his “direct approach” at all; she was upset that there wasn’t enough substance to the program and that Ron was selling his services instead of giving the attendees value. If you read her last sentence, you see that she concluded that had Ron provided the service the attendees had expected, it would have been OK to be direct about appointments.

What Ron couldn’t see was that his direct approach to appointments wasn’t the issue. He needed to provide extraordinary value first. And from the tone of Betty’s email, he clearly did not do that — at least, not for her.

Ron wants to build his business through seminars and programs like this one. If he does go back to his coy little dance around his invitations and continues to give too little value, his results will be even more disappointing.

On the bright side, there are two clear lessons here for professionals who do presentations:

1. Give extraordinary value and don’t spend all your time trying to sell attendees on using your services, and

2. Only then — but always — be direct about the next step you want your attendees to take.

Every seminar should end with a clear call to action. But you can’t ask for your prospects’ action if your seminar did not move anyone to take action. Deliver value, and then tell your attendees, “Here’s what I want you to do next.” Don’t choose to go backward in your strategy before taking a direct leap forward. If that leap doesn't prove to be effective, look backward just long enough to figure out what you could have done to better prepare before you took the leap.