May 10, 2011 at 6:06 am #89551
AnonymousInactiveMay 10, 2011 at 6:06 amPost count: 14413
Thanks to a lovely bout of atypical pneumonia, I’ve had the last couple weeks to do some self-reflection about how ADHD negatively impacts my professional life. As I look back over my career I see a major pattern. Due to my inconsistent performance I shy away from amazing opportunities and continue to live far below my potential out of fear that I’ll fail at the task at hand.
This is having detrimental consequences now that I’m self-employed. My business is struggling not because I’m not exceptional at what I do (when my brain cooperates), but rather due to my inability to prospect and land enough new clients. So I decided to really evaluate why I hate cold calling/prospecting for clients. What I discovered, I have a feeling is the case for many ADDers’ struggling in their careers. Here’s what I figured out:
1. I’m terrified of the rejection that comes with seeking out potential clients. Heck…diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago at 25 I’ve experienced more than enough rejection in my life.
2. I’m worried that if business picks up my inconsistent performance issues will rear its ugly head and I’ll ruin my reputation and lose clients. I go from the “productivity, everything is near perfect” queen to completely worthless with absoutely no warning. This occurs with or without medication.
So it ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. I’m afraid my inconsistent performance will cause me to fail but by not trying to get new clients my business will ultimately fail anyway. Does anyone have any suggestions on overcoming this challenge?REPORT ABUSEMay 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm #103822
nellieMemberMay 10, 2011 at 12:11 pmPost count: 596
Wow can I relate to that!
I too have been struggling with the inconsistency stuff . I work from home as well as having a small business that never seems to fly the way I think it should.
Whenever I plan out my goals in terms of business (my problem is also making contacts) then I manage to do it ok and frankly so far no one has bitten my head off yet!
I think, like every other project, if you break it in steps it’s easier.
Instead of looking at it in a big picture “I have to make more calls” way, you could look at it as “I have to make at least one call this week” and plan it into your schedule. This way it doesn’t look so daunting – what’s the worst that could happen? Either you’ll have one more client than you did before or you will be were you are at now.
I keep telling myself the only person that can hear all that negative stuff in my head is me – the other people are far more clinical – either they need/want your product or they don’t. Just like I don’t buy everything on offer.
I think it boils down to the old Nike “just do it” thing in the end. Judging from some of the posts on this site not too many people like that approach but I find often it’s my way out of a stalemate.
I have thought of hiring someone who is really good at selling on commission – I have a friend who can sell snow to the Eskimos as the expression goes – but haven’t gotten that off the ground yet although we’ve discussed it. But keep in mind it is an option to farm out the stuff you don’t like to do.REPORT ABUSEMay 10, 2011 at 12:27 pm #103823
LauraMemberMay 10, 2011 at 12:27 pmPost count: 11
Oh man! When you figure that out, let me know!
I’m toying with the idea of getting an ADHD coach. I’ve put that off because they are so expensive, but now I’m realizing I might just have to look at coaching as a business/life expense. With a coach, I know I’d get more done in less time (which would really increase my self-esteem!) so it might be worth it.
Something that HAS helped somewhat is EMDR for anxiety. It’s helped tremendously with getting to the root of why I was believing I am screwed up and worthless and now I can actually say “I’m a blessing” without cringing.
However, I still am a work in progress…I too become afraid to attempt certain things (like writing/designing classes) because I’m afraid of the intense concentration required and the fact that I’ll have to stay put at a computer for HOURS…alone! (Ok…I know that’s an exaggeration, but honestly that’s what goes through my mind! When I get into it, it’s never as bad as I thought). I’ve learned through therapy that I have “all-or-nothing” thinking, not even recognizing the miles in between. So I wait ’til the last minute (like an hour before I have to teach). Everyone loves my teaching (I’ve never gotten a bad review — ADDers can be pretty good at winging it!), and I’m invited to many different venues, but I know if I spent more time, I could sell books!REPORT ABUSEMay 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm #103824
AnonymousInactiveMay 10, 2011 at 1:51 pmPost count: 14413
I think the only difference between myself and the rest of you folks is that I’m older – yet my ADHD was only diagnosed last year and we’re still trying to find the best treatment.
After many rides on the employment roller coaster, I’d frequently find myself “self-employed.” I knew I was talented (at least those times when I wasn’t berating myself for being a no-good, 2-bit hack) but I really stink at the follow-through. Finishing a project is murder, much less starting one that has no deadline. And beating the bushes doing marketing/sales? Forget it. Couldn’t generate leads, and the few nibbles I did get I’d invariably let slip away.
So now I’m on my second excursion as a telecommuter and frankly, I’m dreading it. At first, it seemed great, I could just concentrate on what needs doing, avoid the office politics, etc. And when the work is there, it’s great. But we’re in a lull now and I’m very concerned about earning my keep. I’m even more afraid to raise my hand and say “what should I be doing?” because I dread the sending and receiving of the “disappointment” vibe. I’ve dropped hints, but so far no one has given me any projects.
Then there’s the whole office politics thing. I’m connected to the company network and emails and I see a lot of messages that make me grown inwardly – I do not want to attend meetings on how to motivate workers, and so on. Lots of gung ho, peppy stuff that just makes me cringe.
So I’m a little on edge this week. I want to do my best, get some momentum going, but I’m too scared to stick up for myself.
It sounds like we’re all in the same boat – we can do the work, and with proper tools, even follow through. But dealing with people…ugh!
I wonder if we could outsource that?REPORT ABUSEMay 10, 2011 at 1:53 pm #103825
AnonymousInactiveMay 10, 2011 at 1:53 pmPost count: 14413
Inconsistent performance has been the bane of my existence in both professional and academic settings. Still trying to get my shit together.
When reading your post, what came to mind is that it could be helpful to hire someone and/or have a business partner. Someone to help keep you organized & help with sales, but someone to do the core business work too. If you had a backup person of sorts, you might have more peace of mind in securing clients because you’d know you have backfill for those off-times.REPORT ABUSEMay 11, 2011 at 4:17 am #103826
AnonymousInactiveMay 11, 2011 at 4:17 amPost count: 14413
It totally sucks that we all have to deal with this but it sure does make me feel better knowing that I’m not alone. Reading your replies I realize that we have SOOOOOOOO much potential and talent; just wish we could take full advantage of it.
Nellie – are you sure no one else can hear the negative voice in my head? She speaks REALLY loudly. I’ve tried going the commission only route twice and neither worked out. I own a training company and the sale cycle is relatively long so it’s hard for someone to work hard for 3 months without a paycheck.
Outofshell – At this point I’m unable to even pay my rent plus all of my bills each month so hiring someone unfortunately isn’t an option (still haven’t paid May rent that was due on the 1st). The crazy part is that I’m great at keeping everything organized and I’m exceptional at the core business…I just SUCK at sales.
Laura – before starting my business I had an ADHD coach and found it VERY helpful! However, like you said they’re super expensive and not covered by insurance. If you have the extra money to spend I think it’s definitely a worthwhile investment. What is EMDR? I own a professional development training company and I can do an 8-hour totally fun and interactive workshop with no notes. People are always amazed but training/teaching is the one time when I feel like I don’t have ADHD. It’s the only time when I feel, well…normal. Do you feel the same way? If I could just get more clients I could feel ‘normal’ more often and I’d be so much happier.
TheGameGuy – Office politics can be tough but I think you should stand up for yourself. Could you possibly get a mentor? Then you could talk about it in confidence and get the guidance you need to succeed at your job. Oddly, I’m totally a people person but only in social settings or when I’m training. You add a telephone, businesspeople who are older/more experienced than me or a business negotiation into the mix and I’m terrified. I’ve taught myself to keep my composure on the outside regardless of the implosion happening on the inside. Everyone thinks that I’m so polished and I have everything together. It’s all a facade…I feel like such a fraud If you figure out how to outsource this stuff please let me know!REPORT ABUSEMay 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm #103827
AnonymousInactiveMay 11, 2011 at 12:33 pmPost count: 14413
Personally I hate to use the phone and will write emails, but it’s the personal contact that seems to make all of the difference with my customers (I’m self-employed). I have learned to chat in the last few years, to get over my fear of talking with others. It really helps to get the customer to talk about themselves (they love that, and will offer information that you can use to tailor your sales pitch), so you can ask questions to get them talking. I also use stories, often times I will remark about funny things that I did or other personal experiences that relate to the business I’m in, it breaks the ice with my customers and we get on a lot better. I was never good at sales when working for others (never got any training either) but now I am better because I use my products and can give lots of real-life examples to my customers.
Shuz4me: your workshop sounds interesting – where are you located and when do you offer them?REPORT ABUSEMay 11, 2011 at 2:01 pm #103828
AnonymousInactiveMay 11, 2011 at 2:01 pmPost count: 14413
I got the idea for outsourcing from A. J. Jacobs’ “The Guinea Pig Diaries – My Life as an Experiment.” In one of the chapters (“My Outsourced Life”) he hired a team in Bangalore, India to take care of just about everything. The article appears to still be online at Esquire: http://www.esquire.com/ESQ0905OUTSOURCING_214
Sounds good on paper, but I wonder how it would work out for folks like us.REPORT ABUSEJune 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm #103829
AnonymousInactiveJune 21, 2011 at 1:03 pmPost count: 14413
My inconsistency strikes again! It’s been a month since I checked in this thread, shame on me!
To force myself to be more comfortable with cold calling (and for the extra income) I recently started a part time phone sales/lead generation job. What I’ve realized is that it has less to do with my fear of rejection and more to do with the fact that over the phone I can’t read body language in order to gauge the other person’s thoughts/feelings. I think because it’s hard for me to pay attention when others are talking I picked up the ability to follow a conversation by reading non-verbal communication. It’s actually a topic I teach in my trainings. I love to read scientific research on body language/non-verbal communication, it’s fascinating! Amazing that it took a part time job to show me why I hate talking on the phone so much. I can’t SEE the person so I can’t tell whether they’re buying what I’m saying or not. Boy…this ADHD is certainly a journey isn’t it?!?
Unfortunately this realization does nothing to battle my issues with inconsistent performance, that’s still a work in progress.
No_dopamine – I’m located in Chicago but I’m in the process of converting my trainings into webinars and an online community. I’ll keep you posted!
TheGameGuy – outsourcing would be awesome, just need to the money to do it.REPORT ABUSEJune 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm #103830
AnonymousInactiveJune 21, 2011 at 1:24 pmPost count: 14413
I am doing better with over-the-phone sales. If I can get the person talking about themselves, it really helps. But sometimes I make an assumption about what they want too early in the conversation and it goes on too long (me talking too much), or I go in the wrong direction. KISS (keep it simple) needs to be my mantra.
I don’t do cold-calling, though. These are people calling me after finding my website or hearing about us from a friend.
I remember when I was a teenager, I did home delivery of the TV Guide for about 2 months (or less). I had done some door-to-door fundraising for causes back then, so had some experience in knocking on people’s doors, but I was really uncomfortable with asking them for $$$. And of course, in sales, if you don’t go for the close, you’re out of luck! So after a brief period of time, I just gave up on it, and didn’t even go back for the final payment from people.REPORT ABUSEJune 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm #103831
Curlymoe115MemberJune 21, 2011 at 3:36 pmPost count: 206
I joined Primerica a year ago March. It sounded interesting, I had to go to classes to get my life insurance classes. I had no problem attending the classes, passed the test with 94%. Had to take the Provincial Exam, got 80 percent even though a lot of the material was not covered in the down and dirty Primerica class.Got one of the highest marks on the Provincial exam and the congratulations were gratifying. But through all this I did not do one sales call. After I was licensed right up until I let it lapse in February of 2011, I did not set up one call. The whole point of the business was to make sales calls and while I would be selling the product I was also supposed to be actively recruiting other people into the business. Easy Peasy except I couldn’t do it. You are first supposed to start with your hot market (friends and family) and through them visit their friends and relatives and continue to prospect. How could I use my friends to make a sale. For a term insurance product that I didn’t even necessarily think was right for them. What if there was a problem and I lost the friendship because of what I sold them. Sure a lot of the stuff could have been beneficial but some of it is just down right goofy. And for a multi-level marketing sales like Amway (and if you are a great believer in Amway, Bestline, or whatever they are calling themselves today, don’t mean to offend) where you inducted people and sold things all so you could have a life time income based on selling the idea of a dream and trying to make enough sales to win vacations. At the core it just seemed a little sleazy. And the ones that are really good at it, they seemed a little too slick and sleazy as well. So if being good means I would have to abandon my conscience at the door I would rather not.
I can sell ice cubes to Eskimos if I believe in something. But I have never done this for profit. We can be sitting at the till waiting to pay and they will ask me about something in my cart and then I start the spiel on why I picked this product and what its main selling features are. I have all the facts and figures on the tip of my tongue. By the time we are finally checking out I have often convinced them to run back and grab one or at least keep it in mind for the next they need whatever it is. I am not being arrogant, I am just that way. But if I have to sell something that I am only half convinced about there is no way I could do it. I would end up telling them all the negative things as well as the positive. Then if they still decided to buy it I would be absolved of the responsibility if something went wrong.
On another note, when I had my business, I had more customers then I could handle. I was running 17 hours a day, 7 days a week and couldn’t keep up. But when I first started I was really struggling. Then we hit on the right contact and the doors opened. We operated a Senior’s Business and these are a hard group to convince to take a chance. For the first 5 months we had 3 clients. Then we met a woman who had a Senior’s column in the local paper. She was sent to us by an agency we went to see about getting some work. She did a three hour interview with us, checked out our credentials, made sure we were lawfully licensed, insured, registered with the BBB and finally that we were honest and straightforward. After she was convinced of our sincerity, she did an article about us, then allowed us to advertise on her page. Suddenly the phone was ringing off the hook. As part of our new campaign we also used the article as an introduction of our business and what we stood for. All the planning in the world meant nothing compared to this one article in a publication that they trusted. We went from 3 clients to 140 within 6 weeks.
no-dopamine, when I was a kid I used to deliver a friends newspapers every morning. I never got a dime for it. Finally after 2 years she quit and she recommended I take over the route. I had no problem delivering the paper but could not go to the door and collect the money. Just couldn’t do it. A few times I would force myself and I always felt so bad taking money from them (luckily I got over that by the time I started my business) or they would tell me they didn’t have any money this week, or to come back next week. By the time I quit the route a lot of them owed me 2 or more months. I had been paying for the paper out of my own money for all of that time. Then when I finally had to collect all the money to turn it over to the new person I had my dad go with me. The comments were all the same, why was I collecting so much money. Why didn’t I come when it was only for a few weeks. I did but you kept putting me off. So after that we did the Pennysaver because you got paid by the company and there was no collecting involved.REPORT ABUSEJune 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm #103832
AnonymousInactiveJune 21, 2011 at 3:52 pmPost count: 14413
No_dopamine and Curlymoe115 though I never sold newspapers I completely get what you’re both saying. I have amazing interpersonal skills and people always love me right off the bat. I’ll chat you up and have you feeling like we’ve been best friends since childhood. My problem is when it comes down to talking money… It’s just something that I can’t do! I’m very passionate about my business and can have an amazing conversation (face-to-face) with a potential client about how my training or 1-on-1 coaching will benefit their employees or themsevles but as soon as it’s time to give them a price I freak out inside. Not sure why but I just can’t talk money. Many times I’ll end up reducing the price out the gate because I’m afraid they’re going to say that my rates are too high, then I’ll lose the business all together. 9 times out of 10 when I do give a reduced rate they don’t blink an eye at the price I quoted and I beat myself up because I could’ve gotten my normal rate.
I have a meeting with a potential client (Fortune 500 company) in 10 minutes and I’m FREAKING OUT! Do I quote my normal rate and if it’s too high pray I can muster up some negotiation skills to still get them to hire me?!?
This is the biggest problem when you’re strapped for cash. You’re so desperate for money that you’ll do anything for a paid work…even if it’s far below what you are worth or what the market rate is. If I (and my business) were financially stable I wouldn’t in a million years consider reducing my rates! However my rent is due on the 1st and at this point i’m not sure I’ll have enough money to pay it so I’m desperate to get clients.
*sigh* I just feel so stressed out!REPORT ABUSEJune 22, 2011 at 11:06 am #103833
AnonymousInactiveJune 22, 2011 at 11:06 amPost count: 14413
Wow! Interesting that we have problems with the money side! and curlymoe, I have the same problem, I can’t sell something I don’t believe in. I’m doing well in my current business but I use everything I sell and discard what is questionable.
As for the change in being able to ask for money: I needed it, we were living off my husband’s pension and I had used up all my cash savings. I tried a few new “careers”, always spending money on training but never being able to promote and get customers.
Knowing that I have a weakness for asking for money or setting my price high enough to cover costs, I did lots of research about my competitors, what their products are, their prices, etc. I decided not to be the most expensive, but not the least expensive either. I sell product that I make directly to the customer, so I don’t have a middle-man/woman, and can take advantage of that. It’s also Canadian-made, not a cheap import, and I capitalize on that too. I’ve just moved into a commercial space and increased my overhead costs substantially so this will be an ongoing exercise to make sure I don’t just dig myself into a big hole.
I tried some business coaching about 8 months ago, it was for people running businesses like yoga, spas, etc (I used to teach yoga) and the coach said that the most important thing was to get the prospective customer to tell you more about their needs. Then you can tailor your spiel to answer those needs. That was hard for me at first, because I wanted to spout what I knew and what I thought they needed, run-off-at-the-mouth-ADD-style. I had to learn how to shut up after asking a question and listen to the prospect. And then only talk about what was related to their need, nothing else. And I had to learn how to ask for the sale too, not easy, that was always the hardest part because I didn’t like being rejected.
So learning to be comfortable with listening to others speak without interrupting (weakness of mine) and being comfortable with asking a question and not filling in the gaps while waiting for an answer (another weakness) helped.
Also learned from the coach that $ is really not what people are concerned about. There’s always something that you can hit on that’s more important than that. You’re satisfying an emotional need for the prospect and keeping to that agenda helps. But when you get to money, or if you need to establish a budget before you talk about product (when I was in violin sales, I didn’t bring out the rare Italian violins if the customer couldn’t afford it since they’d never want anything cheaper), then I would introduce that earlier in the conversation, such as ‘what price range were you thinking about?’ or something like that.
I agree, the whole money discussion is the hardest part, but I’m finding that I can get people to spend a lot more if they are comfortable with me, if I clearly show that I understand their need and provide solutions.REPORT ABUSEJune 24, 2011 at 5:18 pm #103834
AnonymousInactiveJune 24, 2011 at 5:18 pmPost count: 14413June 24, 2011 at 5:18 pm #103835
AnonymousInactiveJune 24, 2011 at 5:18 pmPost count: 14413
Wow, wth IS it with ADD and not being able to charge what you are worth? I am a self-employed writer and face the same issue. I can make instant friends with anyone but when it comes to collecting money or quoting a rate for my work, I freak out. I have a terrible time even calling on invoices that are past 30 days. Have one right now in fact that I am procrastinating on following up with!REPORT ABUSE
Inconsistent Performance…a major roadblock2011-05-10T06:06:10+00:00
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