Brokerage Ops the July/August 2011 issue

Faked Detachment

If you can’t detach yourself from the next big sale, learn how to fake it well—or pay the consequences.
Posted on July 1, 2011

To achieve your goals in life faster and easier, it’s essential that you detach yourself from them. Quite the paradox, isn’t it?

We Americans often consider struggle and striving to be a sign of strength. While this approach can lead to success, it’s not a great way to run a business, achieve your goals or live life. If you’re struggling to close business, there is something not quite right about your approach.

If you believe your process is right, then working toward it will provide you with a successful outcome. But your ideas of what the outcome should be might not align with your client’s ideas. In the end, you can only do so much. If you want to negotiate and close business from a position of strength, you’ll need to put some emotional distance between you and the outcome.

Generally, you’ll find that you’re struggling because you’re not achieving your goals as fast as you’d like to. You’re trying hard to convince someone when they aren’t open to being convinced. Sometimes struggle comes with having too many things to do, which is what happens when your life becomes disorganized and your priorities are not straight.

You get stuck in a spot where you are feeling the pressure of closing the big deal that you’ve told everyone about. Now you feel like you’re going to look like a loser if you don’t “bring it home.” As you’re in the final phases of negotiating, you get a little more nervous, feeling like there is a lot on the line. You are afraid of losing and super excited about the possibility of winning. You lose your edge.

When I first talk to a new audience about detachment, they look at me like I’ve lost my mind. “What do you mean detach from the outcome? I don’t give up. That’s how I got to where I am today.” 

“I am a winner. I do whatever it takes to convince them that they need us, and I don’t take no for an answer.”

That’s one approach, just not one that I think works well anymore. Even if it does, it’s not the road map for a successful professional life.

Detachment doesn’t mean you don’t care. But you can’t care more about closing the business than about solving your prospect’s problem.

Of course you care about what you do. You have a passion for it and confidence in the value of it, and you’re looking to connect with others who see the unique value in working with you. But sometimes you just have to let go and move on—or at least learn to play it cool, even when you’re freaking out about the possibility of not getting it or feeling uber-excited about winning a new piece of business.

Ever been so busy with important client work and new business opportunities that you were really not worried about what may or may not come through? Then you know what it’s like to be truly detached, even as it relates to lucrative new business opportunities. And yet in tough times, with the stakes higher and not as much money and opportunity flowing, it can be tough. Even if you don’t think you’re falling into the attachment trap, you probably do at times and don’t know it.

Be careful about subtle ways you may be leaning emotionally on people. It’s a sure sign of insecurity, makes others feel uncomfortable and makes you unattractive. And, by the way, even if a new client decides to engage with you as a result of your relentless pursuit, this tactic will often backfire. You may set yourself up in a “one-down” position right from the start. This often leads to your new clients squeezing you on price and taking advantage of you in their expectations of your ongoing relationship.

Coming from a position of strength and healthy detachment is difficult if you don’t have enough activity, energy and momentum going for you. Your excitement about the one big “home run” deal that could be worth a million does not help achieve it. It’s OK to be excited, but it doesn’t help you close business. In fact, it sometimes blinds you to the reality that the opportunity is actually closing before you as well as to the need to continue to prospect for more business.
Your desire to win and push is a strength and a weakness. Work your new business engagement process in a focused and disciplined way. Do the best you can to be compelling, uncover the motivations for change, and get a “yes.” At the same time, try to detach from any particular outcome. Or at least learn to do an excellent job of faking it.

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