Right brain entrepreneurs and executives are consistently undervalued and underpaid. I've written before about the reasons why right brain entrepreneurs and executives are overwhelmed, overcommitted and overworked, but today I want to talk about where the rubber meets the road - in our wallets.
As with other patterns that tend to hold us back from living and working in a way that brings us joy and fulfillment, being undervalued and underpaid are managed by three primary factors:
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (OK, I'm really dating myself here) these three factors are so powerful they direct virtually every part of our lives. Being undervalued may seem a bit innocuous, but it's really just the symptom of a much larger issue.
We are often undervalued by others because we undervalue ourselves, we have difficulty articulating the value of our contributions, and most business is organized as a left brain activity so it's a challenge to get others to understand the value of the way we take in and process information.
Being undervalued leads to being underpaid - whether because we don't ask for compensation that matches the value we deliver, or because our specific organization isn't set up to reward right brain expertise.
So how does the brain fit in?
First, as right brainers, we have a tendency to make things - anything, really - more complex. We actual revel in the complexity because we can see all the parts at once and are excited about finding the connections and patterns between seemingly disparate parts. This tendency toward complexity interferes with our ability to quantify our contributions. Simply put, if we can't value what we do with a simple explanation, then few others can truly value what we do.
Second, our brains are wired to make leaps of logic that are astute and insightful, but to someone who can't follow our leaps, we appear flighty or frivolous. We just don't make sense to them. If we don't make sense, and we can't explain how we came to our conclusions or ideas in a step by step manner, is it any wonder we are undervalued, and hence underpaid?
Third, we tend to crave variety and flexibility. In fact, we get bored without it. We generally have multiple projects going at one time, multitask on a regular basis, and are always looking for the next new thing that will capture our attention. This makes it hard to identify which activities are using our real gifts. This inability to organize around doing just what we're good at prevents us from valuing our gifts. We are actually good at many different things, but zeroing in on what we are particularly gifted at can be a challenge.
And fourth, we have a deep seeded fear that others won't respect us if we aren't doing everything they expect us to. We strive to meet others' expectations, ignoring our own needs and not focusing on our gifts. We like to be helpful, so we end up spending time focused on things that aren't all that helpful to us our our businesses. This fear of lack of respect drives us more than any belief or motivator ever could.
So the answer to "Is your brain the reason you're underpaid?" is "Yes, and there's more."
Has anyone ever said to you, "Wow! That's amazing that you can do that!"...and you've waved it off saying "That was easy" or "It was nothing."? We right brainers tend to think if we can do something then, surely, everyone else can. Or at least a lot of people can.
The truth is, it was easy for YOU, but if someone is impressed it means you've done something that isn't easy for everyone and that it took some skill on your part.
We feel undervalued - that what we contribute isn't taken as seriously as what someone else contributes, or isn't seen as adding to the solution or positive outcome as much as others. But when we wave off recognition or acknowledgement of what we have contributed, how are people supposed to value our work. If we don't see the value, and we teach them not to see the value, why would they pay us more?
Hence the catch-22.
We don't see our own value (or downplay it) --> Other people can't see or reward our value --> We end up being underpaid --> which leads to feeling undervalued --> Now we question our value even more --> and the beat goes on.
Being undervalued and underpaid go hand in hand. When right brainers are undervalued it often results in being underpaid. And being underpaid makes us feel undervalued. What we usually don't want to look at is how we unintentionally contribute to these circumstances.
We need to start identifying our own gifts and learning to appreciate them as actual gifts that not everyone has. This is the only way we will be able to value them appropriately and get paid what we're worth.
For example, what comes naturally to me is identifying a person's blocks, immediately recognizing what they are missing and/or minimizing, seeing their patterns and how they all inter-relate, and what they are failing to consider. Seeing the patterns and pathways in what appears to be chaos and disarray comes naturally to me. For me it is really easy and simple. Until I realized that not everyone can see things the way I can, I undervalued my skills and wasn't paid as well as I could have been.
Once I got clear that how I take in and process information, and then translate it into appropriate, actionable items is really rather remarkable, it became much easier for me to value my work. And my income followed suit.
What's important to realize is that we don't do this intentionally. Rather it is the result of how our brain is wired, our particular set of beliefs, and the habits we've developed over time. All three of these elements working together create our catch-22.
The good news is there's a fairly simple way to turn this around. And, yes, this is one of those times where it really is simple - anyone can do it. As long as they know how. It starts with the beliefs.
In the last post we talked about what the Super Hero Syndrome is, and why it is a particular challenge for the right brain entrepreneur. One of the reasons right brain entrepreneurs are overworked is because of this syndrome.
In today's post we're going to talk about the primary elements that create the Super Hero Syndrome and predispose us to be overworked:
Here's how our brain gets involved:
We don’t estimate how much time things will take or how much is on our plate already. This sets us up for a constant battle of unrealistic expectations.
We say yes to things to gain people’s respect.
We get seduced by "shiny objects" - those intriguing and fascinating ideas and projects that pull us off focus.
We really aren't great at finishing things. Right brainers tend to have lots (and lots) of unfinished projects.
We have difficulty telling people no, partly because "yes" is so much more fun.
Time and time management are left brain activities, but we don't think of them that way.
We don't organize ourselves for maximum results-oriented productivity, and we wear “busy” as a badge of honor. The truth is, if we focused on results, we wouldn’t work as hard. Instead, we focus on the quantity of work and how much time it takes vs. getting the results we want and only doing the work that leads toward that.
We aren’t always clear about what are #1 priority is. If we are, and focus on it, we wouldn’t have to work so hard.
Like most super heroes, we would rather tackle a problem ourselves than ask for help. We enjoy the adrenaline rush we get when we fix someone else's problem. What most other people don't see is the number of family events we miss, the vacations we skip, the stress, sleepless nights, fatigue and worry that we carry from working in this way.
To stop being a Super Hero, we have to recognize this is what's going on so we can "catch" ourselves and choose a different response that the one we're naturally, biologically inclined to choose. Otherwise we're just going to keep repeating the "overworked" experience in our work, and in our lives.
Our beliefs also contribute to our super hero-ness.
While these are all critical, the belief that we can't ask for help is particularly insidious. That's because asking for help is exactly what we need to do to NOT be a super hero. Not only have we become programmed for this, it's become a large part of our identity. We think of ourselves as the helpful ones, the ones who help everyone else. To stop "being" that, challenges our whole sense of who we are.
As right brainers we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the hero and save the day. What we don't realize is that it is costing us precious time, often sets our clients up to continue to expect this level of work from us. It's costing our health and, truthfully, it just isn't sustainable.
That brings us to the habits of the right brain super hero.
The habitual things we do that contribute the most to keeping us this state of being overworked are:
Saying yes to too much, primarily because we don't estimate how much time and effort this new opportunity it will take.
Focusing on being busy vs. the focusing on the results you really want. (We talked about this being our "badge of honor" in the last post.)
We set unrealistic expectations - of ourselves, primarily, but we model this for others in our business and in our lives when we do it for ourselves.
We don't have strong boundaries - or any at all. Some examples of not having boundaries are: taking work on vacation; working late and still bringing work home with us; missing important family events because we have to work; not scheduling vacation for ourselves because we’re so far behind; thinking about work all the time so we aren’t “present” when we’re with people.
We ignore what we need to recharge - and we often don't even pick up on the signals our bodies are giving us.
Most coaches would tell a Super Hero client to focus on changing their habits. That's because most people believe habits are at the root of our problems. We just keep doing things that don't serve us, right?
Well, that's true. We do keep doing things that don 't serve us. But the reason we keep doing them is because of our beliefs and our brain wiring. We can't change our brains, but we can design our environments to support us in making better decisions and designing more effective structures.
What we can change are our beliefs. THIS is the core of overcoming the Super Hero Syndrome. Changing beliefs isn't as easy as saying "OK, I won't believe that anymore. I'll just think this." The problem with that is we can't "think" our way out of our beliefs. If we could, none of us would have this problem and we'd already be living in nirvana.
Unfortunately most professionals (coaches, consultants, counselors, etc.) don't actually know how to change beliefs.
The good news is...I do. Over the last 15 years of working with right brain entrepreneurs, and some profound training in using energy medicine to create these shifts, my clients have been enormously successful at changing their limiting or unhelpful beliefs and installing empowering, life affirming beliefs.
We live in a world of constant pressure and unrealistic expectations.
The super heroes of our youth and the heroes in the media today have warped our sense of what is realistic and what is humanly possible.
While it's sometimes difficult for us to admit that we're human, many people I work with have difficulty understanding why they overwork.
Think about it...what does your typical week look like? Or consider just one day?
If you're like many committed entrepreneurs who started a business because they were sick of the daily corporate grind and wanted to have freedom and control over their schedule, you probably...
have one, two, three, (four??) cups of coffee to get going in the morning...I'm so glad I quit coffee years ago! : )
check your email on your smart phone or tablet, perhaps before you even got out of bed...
go to the office and are immediately immersed in an overwhelming to do list, figuring out what to do because someone didn't finish their part of a project on time, putting out a couple of fires, dealing with an angry or frustrated partner or employee, looking at your to do list again - woefully, this time...
grab lunch on the go or eat at your desk, and then it all starts over again for the afternoon...
rather than leave at a reasonable hour, you stay late (maybe very late) to focus on your work that you couldn't get to because you were helping everyone else do their work...
when you do make it home, you probably check your email again, eat or drink something to relax from the day, then have trouble sleeping because there are lots of thoughts running through your mind about all the things you need to focus on tomorrow...
Any of this sound familiar?
This the classic pattern of an entrepreneur with Super Hero Syndrome.
For right brain entrepreneurs, we get an extra dose of Super Hero Syndrome. That's because our brains complicate things further because we have difficulty prioritizing, estimating how much time it will take to do something, and we don't think to consider what is already on our to do list before we commit to something else. (This isn't criticism. It's an acknowledgement of how your brain naturally organizes and processes information.)
When you're working these kinds of hours - as admirable and necessary as you may think it is - you are actually putting your business at risk, even while you think you are making progress. As a business owner, you need time to recharge. But when you are this busy for this amount of time, you put yourself at physical risk of adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems, obesity, colds, and a multitude of other health issues. All of these put your business - and your life - at risk.
If you are overworking, you have engaged the amygdala, a very small reptilian part of your brain that regulates the fight, flight, or conserve response.
But, in today's hyper competitive marketplace it's more important to be strategic than at any other time in history. If you aren't being strategic...well, you know what happens.
But, when your amygdala is engaged, you literally cannot be strategic. When you are in the fight, flight, or conserve mode of operating, you have an extraordinarily limited field of vision. At this point you aren't thinking long term. You're thinking "How can I make it through this crisis?"
Bottom line, you can't see opportunities, and definitely not the richest, most effective ones. And you can't develop the distance from your business to gain a strategic viewpoint or new insights.
All this is the result of overworking. And it's a self-perpetuating system.
If you take a moment to be honest with yourself, you know that's true.
It's time to save yourself from Super Hero Syndrome.
Identify what it takes you to recharge - and then schedule it. It might mean yoga, 8 hours of sleep, eating local, organic produce in your diet. Or a combination of all these. (This is just an example, and it's what saved me from my own Super Hero Syndrome.)
Get clear on the results you want and why you want them. Truthfully determine if they are essential to your business success and personal happiness.
Set very clear boundaries around your time to work, play, and rest.
So what are your Super Hero tendencies? We all have them, and sharing this in the comments below isn't a sign of weakness. Sharing this out loud, or publicly, is actually part of the process of Super Hero Syndrome Recovery.
In the next blog post, I'm going to talk about the brain function, beliefs, and specific habits that create this problem.
This week we finished the first teleclass in a series examining and explaining some common traps for right brain entrepreneurs and executives. The first class focused on why you are overwhelmed and overcommitted...the patterns that lead to this...and waht you can do about it in practical, straightforward suggestions.
Prefer to listen via phone? Temporary playback phone # is: (805) 399-1299
Download the handout for the class. (This is a graphic-heavy file, so takes a bit longer to download than a typical pdf or Word document.)
Class Description: At some point, most right brain entrepreneurs experience being overwhelmed and overcommitted.This ends up not just affecting your stress levels and successes at work, but it also carries over into your personal life, how you feel about yourself, and whether or not you feel as passionate about your business as when you first started it.
The bad news is: these two factors create a self-perpetuating cycle – and it seems like you’ll never get out of it.
The good news is: there is a way to break the cycle, and I’m going to show you how to break it!
[caption id="attachment_822" align="alignright" width="350"] photo by a2gemma, flickr.com/photos/78453620@N00[/caption]
In this class you will:
learn the 5 primary reasons you keep finding yourself overwhelmed and overcommitted.
determine how being overwhelmed and overcommitted is impacting you and your business.
learn how to identify the hidden beliefs that keep you overwhelmed and overcommitted.
discover what you can do about it…in both the long term and the short term. (You need strategies for both in order to relieve the pressure you are under currently, as well as build structures and support that create an environment which prevents – and protects – you from being overwhelmed and overcommitted.)
We also explore how your brain, beliefs, and brawn (habits) play such a significant role in creating overwhelm and overcommitment.
Last week I met with Bob, who owns a small business and wanted to talk with me because he felt trapped by his business.
He started his business several years ago and has lost sight of his original vision. He's overwhelmed by his very long to do list. And while he enjoys the freedom of being his own boss, he feels anything but free.
Most business owners start their businesses because they crave freedom. Right brain entrepreneurs crave freedom and making an impact more than anything else. Yet, hundreds of entrepreneurs I've worked with in the past have felt trapped rather than free.
What most don't realize is they have built themselves a lovely little trap, called their business. And they perpetuate it every single day.
Everyone likes to think their business or situation is unique, but being trapped comes from very specific habits and beliefs that contribute to the problem.
There is a way out, but it takes very personal work to identify and change your specific beliefs that are creating your trap and getting a better understanding of how you process information and make decisions so you can actually create the freedom you crave. (Hint: I am trapped is one of the hidden beliefs many people have.)
I wrote about several of our beliefs in a previous blog post.
There are three main areas that determine how successful we are at running our businesses and our lives: our brains, our beliefs, and our brawn (habits). Today I want to talk about beliefs. Specifically, the hidden beliefs that keep right brain entrepreneurs and executives overwhelmed and overcommitted.
Whether we like to admit it or not, our beliefs really do drive our behavior, which in turn creates our habits, which in the end, determine our experience and success.
The problem is that some of the most powerful beliefs are hidden. They might be truly hidden from us in that we aren't even aware of them consciously. And they can also be beliefs we are aware of but keep hidden. We keep some of our beliefs hidden out of embarrassment or shame ("What would people think of me if they knew I believed that?"), and sometimes we hide them because we don't want to admit how powerful they are.
A prime example of how beliefs end up creating a chronically overwhelmed entrepreneur is my client Marcus.
Marcus is smart, talented, influential, and has a tremendous amount of potential. Like many of you.
Marcus says Yes to nearly every opportunity he is presented with, commits to helping every person who asks for it, and has a to do list a mile long.
He’s 40 years old and has been overwhelmed for at least the last 20. He has a reputation of being a great guy who was dependable and you knew would always help you out. But his effectiveness has started waning over time. Being overwhelmed started to wear him out, and when he called me, he was constantly stressed, worked 7 days a week, felt like he could never catch up, and had started losing clients.
In our very first coaching session I taught Marcus how his brain worked. This was eye-opening for him. He realized that because he doesn’t store sufficient detail, and because he wasn’t writing down what he had committed to doing for other people, he was forgetting his action items and was disappointing his clients and his family. As well as himself.
Understanding how his brain worked was just part of the picture. Uncovering hidden beliefs that were holding him back was the next step.
Clearly, the way he was working wasn’t working anymore. Yet he had built a reputation on how he worked, so he felt even more trapped.
Within a few sessions, we were able to shift the beliefs that were contributing to overwhelm, implemented a system for capturing everything he committed to, including details, and a way to comfortably say No and requests for help that he knew he couldn’t fulfill.
That was Marcus's specific situation, but it is by no means unique. In fact, it is a remarkably common experience for right brain entrepreneurs and executives.
I've been working with right brainers for 15+ years, and I've discovered that there are commonly held beliefs that most right brain executives and entrepreneurs have that contribute to their chronic overwhelm.
Here are Marcus's hidden beliefs that kept him overwhelmed:
I am trapped
I am a martyr
I can do more than most people.
I can’t find good people.
I disappoint others.
I have to do it all myself.
We changed these beliefs using a shamanic energy medicine technique and Marcus is now reporting much less stress and overwhelm. So, Marcus is on the right path to breaking his bad habits.
Yet, many of us wear these beliefs as badges of honor. We take pride in our ability to do more than most people. This may work extremely well when you are bootstrapping a business or in startup mode, but it severely limits your ability to grow and expand when you can no longer do it all.
We become so accustomed to stress that most of us think overwhelm is a natural and normal state. Or even if we don’t think it’s natural and normal, we think it is a necessary part of being in business.
Overwhelm is a signal that you are stressed. Stress limits your field of vision and it prevents you from being strategic, even though you think you are.
Eventually it prevents you from remaining competitive and relevant, which leads you to work even harder, resulting in becoming even more overwhelmed. It’s a vicious cycle - but it's one that can be broken and realigned.
If you expect to be overwhelmed as a business owner, you are setting up yourself and your business for failure. Isn't it time to change the beliefs that are creating your reality?
I've been working with right brained entrepreneurs for the past 15 years, and nearly every single one of them stays stuck in a pattern of overwhelm. Yet, most of them have no idea why they stay overwhelmed. It really comes down to habits. Yes, staying overwhelmed is a habit. These habits stem from the way we process information and our belief systems.
Because right brainers can handle more complexity than left brainers, we tend to make things more complex than they really are. One of the ways we do that is by saying YES to new ideas or tasks or action items without evaluating how much time and effort it will take to complete them. (Hint: A left brainer would never do this.)
To make things even more complex, we don't evaluate how much we have on our plate before we say yes to those new ideas, tasks, or action items. This compounds the problem.
All that is built on top of our belief systems.
The belief patterns most right brain executives and entrepreneurs have that contribute to their chronic overwhelm are:I can do more than most people.
I can do more than is humanly possible.
I’m smart enough that I ought to be able to figure all this out.
I can’t find good people to do the work I need them to do.
I can’t afford the help I need.
It’s important to stay busy.
I can do things faster and better than other people can.
If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.
If I want it done right I have to do it myself.
I’m uncomfortable saying No.
We wear many of these beliefs as badges of honor. We take pride in our ability to do more than most people can. However, this may work extremely well when you are bootstrapping a business or in startup mode, but it severely limits our ability to grow and expand when we can no longer do it all. (I've discovered a shamanic energy medicine technique that actually changes those belief patterns and I'll demonstrate it on a free webinar on October 10th - see below!)
We become so accustomed to stress that most of us think overwhelm is a natural and normal state. Or even if we don’t think it’s natural and normal, we think it is a necessary part of being in business.
But every right brain executive and entrepreneur I talk with started their business so they could enjoy freedom. Overwhelm is a trap. It is the opposite of freedom.
Overwhelm is a signal that we are stressed. And when we are stressed it’s limits our field of vision. It prevents us from being strategic, even though we think we are. Eventually it prevents us from remaining competitive and relevant, which leads us to work even harder, resulting in becoming even more overwhelmed. It’s a vicious cycle.
If you expect to be overwhelmed as a business owner, you are setting up yourself and your business for failure.
If you want to learn what to do about this, please attend the teleclass on Thursday, October 10th at noon PT/3pm ET.The class will be approximately 75 minutes long.
If you're a right brain entrepreneur or executive, the odds are stacked against you. In most Western cultures, business is structured as a left-brain activity. But that doesn't mean you can't stand out and be wildly successful. In fact, it means it's easier for you to stand out...and hence be wildly successful. In fact, what business desperately needs right now are the unique gifts you bring to the table as a right brain entrepreneur.
BUT, it means you have to overcome these 4 roadblocks to stand out, be valued, and contribute effectively.
Roadblock #1: Assuming Too Much Responsibility
Rather than being a jack of all trades, spreading yourself too thin and taking on too much responsibility, you must recognize and monetize your gifts - the things that are easy, natural, effortless for you...the things that you are good at and love doing.
Most right brainers I work with have no idea what their gifts are, so they spend most of their time doing things that are more difficult, take more effort, and are dramatically less rewarding, not to mention depleting and exhausting.
Here's my rule of thumb: If you spend a lot of time worn out, stressed, and frustrated, you aren't monetizing your gifts.
Here's what it looks like when you do monetize your gifts:
You're excited and really enjoy your work.
Your work is extremely high quality.
And others are impressed by and appreciate your work.
Roadblock #2: Starting Too Many Things...and Finishing Few
Right brainers are full of ideas. We can make connections between concepts that others cannot, use our imaginations to create possibilities, paint the picture for others to follow, and think extraordinarily fast on our feet.
People love us for that.
But most right brainers also have a very long list of unfinished projects because we usually have way too many things going at one time. Many of us have what's called "the shiny object syndrome" where we get seduced by new ideas or possibilities, and we get bored with the details and the amount of effort and time it takes to complete things. If we're leading other people, it's often confusing and disheartening when we don't follow through and complete the things we start.
What we have to realize is we are GREAT at starting things, but we are not so good at finishing them ourselves.
Most right brainers I work with think they are good at almost everything, but when pressed to finish projects or ideas, they try harder and harder, get frustrated, their to do lists grow longer and longer, they get stressed out, and they think there's something wrong with them but they have no idea what.
The key to finishing lots of things? Partner with finishers. Here's what it looks like when you partner with finishers:
Your list of unfinished projects becomes complete.
Your to do list shrinks (over time).
The world gets to finally see and appreciate your ideas, which can generate significantly more revenue and satisfaction for you.
The added bonus is that you begin to trust yourself more, your self esteem improves, and you have proof your ideas are actually valid.
To overcome this roadblock we must partner with people who are great at finishing things, and empower them to do so. What's important to realize is that the part of our brain that is good at starting things (one of our gifts) is not good at finishing things. So don't spend a lot of time, money, effort, and resources trying to become good at finishing things because our brains and our habits will rarely allow us to do so proficiently.
Roadblock #3: Hiring for Potential vs. Hiring for Proof of Competence
As right brainers, we crave respect. Since that's our perspective, we assume others also crave respect - and we want to give it to them way too early. Because of this we often don't make people earn our respect. In hiring, this can become a big problem because we sense people's potential (it's also one of our gifts) and we automatically respect people for that potential.
Many businesses, particularly small businesses or startups, need people who can work independently, take on the role completely on Day 1, and do what is required immediately with little orientation or training. If you hire people based on their potential, it requires that you spend a lot of time training and mentoring them, supervising their work, giving lots of feedback, and explaining your expectations in great detail. Most of us don't have the luxury of taking the time and effort required to do that.
Most right brainers I work with pride themselves on giving people opportunities, in part because many of them got where they are because they were given opportunities. However, this practice often creates a tremendous amount of overwhelm, missed expectations, stress, and additional work for the person who hired them (that would be you). So while you might feel great about giving someone a chance - an opportunity to learn and grow - you could be sabotaging your business.
Here's what it looks like when you hire based on proof of competence:
People start their roles being able to anticipate our expectations because they've already done it.
They can make an immediate impact on the outcomes you need.
They know the job better than you do.
Roadblock #4: Helping Everyone Else vs. Helping Yourself
Right brainers love to help people. Most run businesses that serve others well, while leaving the owner worn out, stressed, financially strapped, and chaotic.
Most right brain executives focus on what the clients need vs. what their employees (or they, themselves) need. This usually results in high staff turnover because expectations are unclear. When the sole focus is on helping the clients, vs. valuing the needs of the employees and owner as well, people will search for somewhere else to work where they are valued and appreciated.
Most right brain entrepreneurs and executives call me for help when they are in a crisis. Either they are completely worn out and they want their lives back, their businesses are at risk of going under, or their staff is ready to mutiny. Usually they've played with a million strategies, but haven't completely followed through with any of them.
Here's what it looks like when you help yourself, as a right brain entrepreneur or executive:
You're really clear on what your needs, your employees' needs, the business's needs and your customer's needs are. I often ask my clients, "Did you start your business to focus on everybody else, or to create the freedom and life you wanted?"
Then you create the systems, processes and procedures that get those needs met. You literally design your business with this in mind.
You're able to run a profitable business with happy employees, happy customers, and you finally have the time and energy to have a life you really enjoy.
If you're facing any of these road blocks, use my 15 years of expertise of helping hundreds of people just like you take the steps and make the changes required to overcome them.
Working across multiple industries, including advertising, public relations, design, software development, gaming, etc. often gives me unique insights into emerging trends that most people may think are isolated to their particular field or profession.
One trend I'm noticing now is that the sales process is changing in each of these industries. It's not just that the sales cycle has nearly doubled in the past 4-6 months, but that the decision making structure, itself, has been transformed and the ultimate decision makers have changed.
Finance is playing a greater part in these decisions, and is often becoming the ultimate decision maker.
Boards of Advisors are also playing a much greater role, and are often the final decision maker for projects.
That didn't used to be the case. And it's like the rules have changed, but nobody told you.
No one should be surprised that the finance department has become more involved. After the long recession and recovery, financial decisions are under intense scrutiny and must be managed well. However, when finance people are making purchase decisions for areas they aren't qualified to make, it requires you to educate financial decision-makers on the benefits and expected return of what you are selling.
Remember, finance folks are "numbers" people. They love data. Naturally, then, there is a greater demand for measurement. This new requirement is tough for most sales people and small business owners in creative fields who aren't used to quantifying the results of their work.
I'm also hearing from my clients that when it comes time for their prospective client to make a decision about working with them, either the clients didn't communicate at all, or communicated that the Board was reviewing the decision. This is highly frustrating and not anticipated by most sales people.
What this change now requires is asking your clients specifically who will be making the final decision? What's the process for making the decision? And it may even require incentivizing your customers to make a decision by a particular date.
Here is a perfect example.
I was working with a client in public relations who was facing this challenge. To help their prospective client make a decision sooner rather than later (which is important for your own cash flow needs), we created a bonus if the client made a decision early, and a savings if they made the decision by a particular date.
What this new trend means is:
You may have to approach the sales process differently and provide different (new) types of information, depending on who is making the decision.
You may have to change your expectations on the length of sales cycle and the amount of effort you need to expend to land new business.
You probably need to get more creative about how you help clients make decisions in a time frame that works for your business, and that makes them even more confident about the decision they end up making.
Have you noticed this trend happening in your own business? What has changed about your typical sales cycle, or about the decision-making process your own customers are using?
Leave a comment below to share.
If you need help creating a strategy, work with your coach, or call me, to get help.