Read an Excerpt
The Power to Get in
By Michael A. Boylan
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1997 Michael A. Boylan
All rights reserved.
Why You've Been Frozen Out
The Grim Reality
You've been frozen out, or are being frozen out right now. You can see it, feel it, almost taste it. And it's painful. At a minimum, it's a hassle — a total inconvenience.
You might find it comforting to know that most people who have something to sell, present, or offer feel the very same pain. But the specific reasons why you can't seem to get your foot in the door differ from person to person and from situation to situation. Let me give you a few examples.
If you're [a salesperson, a business owner, a manager, or a top executive for an industry leader] — a "major player" in your field — you may be getting frozen out because:
Your household name, track record, powerful history, and customer success stories don't seem to mean as much to your prospects as they used to — at least, they're not delivering the automatic audience they used to.
All of your direct competitors — the other firms your prospects are considering — are also major players in your field.
Your prospects view your product or service as basically the same as what your competitors offer, no matter how unique its features or functions are and no matter how many clear, quantifiable benefits it offers.
Your organization's credibility in the marketplace no longer seems any greater than anyone else's.
You find yourself having to present your offer, over and over, level by level, to one person after another in the same organization, yet few of these people actually have the authority to say yes to your offer.
You find yourself getting in the door at lower and lower levels than you used to, forcing you to present more "dog and pony shows" to non-decision makers.
If you're [a salesperson, a business owner, a manager, or a top executive at a lesser-known organization,] you may be getting frozen out because:
Your product, service, or company is an unknown in your market, or at least unknown to your prospect.
You (or your company) have no history, no track record, no referrals, or no existing relationships to use to get in.
When your prospect issues a Request For Proposals, your company's name is not on it — which means you don't even have permission to submit a proposal or bid.
You keep getting kicked down to a non-decision maker, where you then get blocked.
You have no real leverage or power base to draw on.
Your prospect's perception of your product or service is that it's a commodity — no different from what's offered by your competition — so all they're interested in is getting the best price.
Even though you've gotten in a door, you've discovered that the all-important decision is made at a much higher level — and you can't seem to get to that level, for whatever reason.
It seems to take longer than ever to close a sale, get a routine approval, or even get people to make any kind of decision. Sometimes it takes forever just to get a phone call returned, if it's returned at all.
For whatever reason, it seems that your prospect isn't taking you seriously, perhaps is even treating you like you're a pest.
If you are looking to make a job or career change, or if you're trying to enter or re-enter the job market,] you may be getting frozen out because:
You have trouble standing out from the flood of applicants.
Many of the people competing for the same jobs you are have more job experience or credentials than you do — sometimes much more.
You have a hard time figuring out how to position yourself and your skills to potential employers.
You often get irritated and angry at the general fakiness of some people in the business world.
It's difficult for you to get psyched up to play the business game just to get a job.
After finally getting through to someone in the personnel department, you find out that you are one of hundreds of people applying for the same job — and you never even get called in for an interview.
You did what you thought you were supposed to do — cut out the ads that looked promising, sent a letter and your resume to the proper addresses, and made follow-up calls. But almost nobody responded, and most didn't even have the decency to return your phone calls or acknowledge receipt of your materials.
And no matter who you are, you may also be getting frozen out because:
Corporate takeovers, mergers, reorganizations, and downsizing are causing your prospects to be worried about their own jobs ... their own security.
The people you're trying to see seem to have less and less authority to make decisions.
Your prospects seem to be more and more scared of making the wrong decision, which often means they make no decision.
Your prospects have less time, are under more demands, and seem less tolerant than ever before.
You can't get to the ultimate decision maker(s) because they're insulated from you by "the committee," or by an army of executive secretaries.
Even though you were told who the decision maker supposedly is, often they're not the person who actually ends up making the decision. All too often they're just part of a committee, and that committee may itself not have the power to make a decision, but only a recommendation.
On any given day, your prospects are probably not interested in granting access — an appointment, a conference call, a video conference, etc. — so they can learn more about how your offer might help them.
The benefits of your offer, regardless of how wonderful they are, rarely provide enough of an incentive anymore to convince prospects to grant you access.
What Are the Forces Behind the Freeze-Out?
None of this has come about by accident. Three distinct trends have combined to cause more and more doors to slam shut.
Your prospects have become increasingly distrustful — and for good reason. If it's not already obvious to you how pervasive this lack of trust has become, ask yourself how much you trust telemarketers, insurance salespeople, lawyers, car dealers, or any stranger who is trying to gain access to you. Furthermore, your prospect has probably been stung more than once by people and organizations they weren't familiar with — or, at the very least, knows others who have been stung. They also believe you'll say just about anything, no matter how impossible or untrue, just to get in their door. Combine these things with the dramatic increase in sales scams across the country — including some by nationally known Fortune 1000 companies — and it's no surprise that more and more people have closed their doors. They've chosen to deal only with those organizations and individuals they already know very well — or that are brought to their attention through trusted referrals.
Competition has become much more fierce and often global — and it's getting steadily tougher. Whether you're looking to sell a product or service or simply get a job, you are battling enormous competition, often from around the country, sometimes from around the world. Because of this competitiveness, your prospect has much more power over you and far more options to choose from than ever before — which means they're able to be far more selective about the products, services, and people they grant access to.
Many people are seriously stressed out and often demoralized by rapid, continuous, pervasive change. Add in the pressures of cost cutting, steadily declining job security, and the ever-present bottom line, and it's no wonder that people have become edgy, uptight, less able to cope, and harder to deal with.
Put all of these things together and it's easy to understand why you — and so many others — have been (and continue to be) frozen out. Furthermore, the problem continues to get bigger and bigger.
Is There Any Good News?
Yes. The Power to Get In will give you the tools and strategies that will enable you to overcome every one of these killer situations. No matter how many of these problems are staring you in the face, this book will benefit you big time.
And there's more good news. Getting in the door is essentially a game — and, as with all games, there's a way to win. In the chapters to come I'll show you exactly how to play — and how to obtain the prize. In the process, you'll discover that the Circle of Leverage System makes the game much more fun and rewarding to play.
You've been frozen out because:
Your prospects have become distrustful.
Competition has become much fiercer and is getting fiercer still.
People are seriously stressed out and demoralized by rapid, continuous, and pervasive change.
But there is hope. Getting in people's doors is a game, and this book will teach you how to win it.CHAPTER 2
If You Can't Get In, You Don't Have a Prayer
You Are a Persuader
Every one of us is in the persuasion business.
It doesn't matter what you do for a living (or what you hope to do). The fact is, certain parts of every job require you to persuade others to do certain things, to do them in certain ways, to work with you productively, and to listen to you and take you seriously.
All of this is every bit as true in our personal lives. We're almost constantly trying to persuade other people to do things — clean up their bedrooms, hurry up and get ready for school, pick up the dry cleaning, call us back as soon as possible, prepare our salad with the dressing on the side, and so on.
In fact, we've been persuading others to do what we want from the time we were born. And the interesting thing is that we were probably most successful at it when we were infants. Back then, we were master manipulators. A good pout, a little whine, or an all-out cry usually got us what we wanted: attention, food, someone to hold us. As we grew up, our life experiences shaped the ways we persuade people to listen to us and do what we want.
Getting In Is Everything
The Circle of Leverage System is a specific pattern of persuasion. It's partly about developing your own natural, inborn talent as a persuader (and, yes, we all have some of this talent). But it's much more about putting into play a series of specific steps and strategies that, in and of themselves, are incredibly persuasive — indeed, virtually unstoppable.
Why are these steps and strategies so important? Because if you can't get in the door, you have no opportunity. We're not talking about a slim chance. We're talking none. Zero. Zip. Nada.
If you can't get in to see the right person at the right time, it doesn't matter whether you're trying to sell yourself, your company's product or service, a great new idea, or even a cure for cancer. If the right people aren't listening, there's absolutely no point in talking. You're wasting your time.
The Circle of Leverage System is all about getting the right person (or people) to listen at the most opportune moment, so that you can deliver the presentation you wish to deliver, in the manner in which you want to deliver it.
It's got nothing to do with strong-arming or heavy-handed tactics. It's about causing them to want to pay attention to you and your request for access.
Everyone Can Benefit
At this point, maybe you're thinking, "Wait. I'm not a great talker or schmoozer. I'm not particularly good at coming up with the right words for any given situation."
Relax. The C.O.L. can work for every personality type and for people with every level of verbal skill. You don't have to be naturally extroverted or outgoing. In fact, I have specifically written this book for people of all levels of ability and experience. The C.O.L. will help you by starting from whatever point you're at right now, no matter what your personality traits are.
This brings us to one of the key principles behind the C.O.L.: Getting in the door is not primarily a matter of personality or verbal skill. Nor is it primarily a matter of the particular product, service, or idea you have to offer. Rather, it's about understanding what truly motivates your prospect — and using those needs, fears, and concerns as leverage to navigate your way in.
That's why the system works so well. Even if you're starting out with no leverage whatsoever, the system enables you to create and use leverage where previously you had none. If you work the C.O.L properly, it will work for you.
In fact, throughout this book I'm going to assume you're starting out from a position of zero leverage. If you already have some leverage behind you — an inside contact, a strong referral, a track record, a good reputation — good for you. It may speed up the process of getting you in. But you do not need to start out with any leverage whatsoever in order to use the C.O.L. successfully. That's one of the best and most empowering things about it.
If you still have doubts about whether the C.O.L. can work for you, that's fine. You don't have to believe the principles it is built upon. The system will work if you apply and execute it properly — whether you think it will work or not!
Your ability to get in the door is as important as, if not more important than, the amount of knowledge you have about whatever it is you're offering. The next chapter looks at exactly why the traditional approach to getting in the door — the one we've all been taught is appropriate, and the one just about everyone has been using — has become so very ineffective.
Excerpted from The Power to Get in by Michael A. Boylan. Copyright © 1997 Michael A. Boylan. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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