What Are We Doing Here

I ask lots of questions.

“What are we doing here?” is one of my favorites.

I say it all the time.

It’s my way of seeking clarity. It’s also my way of making sure key decisions are in alignment with your core values.

Let me give you some examples.

In an office with a marketing client:

This smart, well-dressed gentleman sits me down and shows me the results from his Facebook advertising campaign. He is obviously impressed. The number of “clicks” is significant and so is the number of “likes.” He takes me through the numbers.

“How many clients did we receive as a result of this latest campaign?” I ask.

Puzzled look. Followed by the statement from the client:

“None. This is about awareness. Clients come after they recognize your brand.”

My response: “How much did you invest in this campaign?”

The client says: “$3,600.”

Next I ask: “Could we have spent that money on something that would have produced a higher return on investment?

For example: How many new matters came into the office as a result of the last printed newsletter you sent out? And what was the total spend and the total value in new business.”

Client: “Last month we spent $2,750 on a round of newsletters and we generated 8 leads from which we closed 6 new clients for a total of $34, 800 in business.”

I pressed the client: “Okay. So you received a good return on that investment. Did you mail that newsletter to your entire list?”

Client: “No. We only mailed to 10% of our clients.”

I replied: “Why didn’t you repeat that same newsletter to a larger segment of your client base? “

Client: “Because I decided to spend the money on the Facebook…(voice trailing off)”

Me: “What are we doing here?

At lunch with a business leader:

My client heads an up-and-coming business unit in a large corporation. She is smart and has two decades of experience in her industry.

We are discussing her top salesperson.

He is highly successful. He exceeds his goal each and every month. But he has an acerbic personality with his staff. He cannot keep an administrative assistant for longer than 6 months. His longest tenured assistant just left the company because he called her mobile phone on a Saturday to berate her for not booking his hotel reservation for a conference before she left work on Friday. The conference is in eight months.

The company has paid for counseling. He has an assigned mentor. His coaching has been documented over the course of the past three years. Yet his behavior has been the subject of two hostile work environment claims (both were settled before they blew up). Now the business leader is sitting across from me at lunch, twisting the napkin into a tight ball in her fist as she says:

“The guy brings a lot of money in the door but his behavior is unacceptable and I’m convinced it is not going to change.”

My question: “Are you proud to say he is part of your team?”

Her response: “No freakin’ way! I’m embarrassed to admit he works with me.”

Me: “What are we doing here?”

With A Lawyer Discussing His Fee Structure

Lawyer: “I’m so busy I cannot return telephone calls from new clients but I feel like I’m not making the money I should be making based upon the complexity of the work.”

Me: “Raise your fees.”

Lawyer: “Some of my clients will go away.”

Me: “What are we doing here?”

I don’t use this phrase to be flippant or to make people feel inadequate. This phrase is a way to trigger an emotional reaction. It is more effective than saying:

“Let’s reexamine your purpose and view this situation in that context.”

It is highly effective. It grounds the person having the issue. They know they must make a change in order to be congruent with their core beliefs.

Of course you may be wondering how I came up with this process. You may be asking how this question came to be one of my “go to” client intervention techniques.

Almost a decade ago I was a divorced, overweight, emotional mess. I was a two-time business building giant with nothing to show but high blood pressure, heartburn and a bank balance that did me no good – I was working so much I couldn’t spend the money.

One day, after I missed yet another family event, this time with severe consequences, I looked in the mirror and I said to myself:

“What are we doing here?”

Take a few minutes right now and think about your most significant challenge. Now think about the mission of your business and your personal purpose. Is there a decision you can make, right now, to resolve this situation in alignment with those core values?

If there is, look in the mirror and ask yourself:

“What are we doing here?”

Here are three additional articles to help you focus on what you are doing with sales:

Get Inside the Mind of the Client

If you want to connect with your client, understand his needs and make sure you can help him; you must know how he thinks. Understand how he thinks and you develop a relationship.

Create a Culture of Sales Success

Everyone in your company must be focused on selling. Everyone must be focused on building relationships. Everyone must be focused on solving problems for the client. This means creating a culture of sales success.

How to Convince People to Take Your Advice

Advice is useless if people don’t follow it. Here’s how you convince people to take your advice.