Lesson for Young Brokers: It’s Not About You

Recently, I have been getting cold calls and emails from a variety of service providers for a variety of reasons. Being on the client side is nice for a change, but more than that, it’s been a great learning experience.

Since I have spent a significant amount of time throughout my career trying to develop business over the phone and via email, I try to provide the same level of courtesy I would hope to receive when I am on the other side. It’s not always easy. In fact, at times, it's really hard!

While a few of the voicemail messages are well thought out and the emails well written, most are bordering on embarrassing. Am I the only one that thinks grammar still exists?  However, that’s not what bothers me the most.

What I find most bothersome is that while they are reaching out to meet or do business with me, the emails are not about me, or my needs, at all.

Instead, the tell me what they want.

They want to meet or speak to me to tell me how smart they are, usually at a time that is convenient for them, about a subject that they want to discuss. Many times, the facts that they present about me, if any, are incorrect or incomplete.

What they don’t do is ask any questions.

Either way, I might not take the time to meet or chat with them, but the likelihood of me responding at all increases exponentially if I think someone asks an intelligent question or was thoughtful at all in their inquiry. Frankly, this isn’t just a lesson for young brokers; it’s a great reminder for me too. There are many times that I leave a message that resembles, “I’d like to give you a piece of information that I think is important,” and now I know why they don’t return my calls.

While that message offers something that I think is valuable, it’s only as valuable as the receiver thinks it is. Instead of offering something they may or may not want, perhaps if I ask them what they would be interested in discussing, I would get a better response. Certainly, the people who are cold calling me would have a better chance.

I read a quote early in my career which I try to keep in mind when concentrating on business development:

“Customers buy for their reasons; not yours.”

While we may not be more successful in our business development efforts, the emails and phone calls will undoubtedly be better received. If you do your homework and ask the right question, will they say yes every time? Absolutely not. But if they say no, as opposed to no response at all, you can spend your time on other prospects, developing great questions, leading to the next yes.