That morning I am sitting at my computer staring blankly at a database filled with companies and contact details. The Wizard of Oz had given it me as a present. To make me successful again. Yet cold calling remains a hard block for me. There must be a way around this, surely.
“Thanks for the database,” I thank the Wizard for remembering to send it to me again after the previous version got deleted, by accident I must add. “What shall I do with it? Cold calling is really not an option. What about email marketing? I could make up a Mailchimp email marketing my services. What do you think?”
“Good idea,” the Wizard smiles at me encouragingly.
“What should I emphasize?” I ponder. I am quite relieved the Wizard is letting me off with email marketing instead of cold calling. “Google Analytics, Adwords, SEO or Conversion Rate Optimization? Or something else?”
“I have no idea what you should emphasize,” the Wizard answers with a lilt of annoyance in his voice. “What are you good at and what do you enjoy doing? What are clients looking for? How can you offer a better service? Why do they need you?”
“Okay this may also be my problem. I dont know,” I admit reluctantly. “I dont know anymore what I enjoy doing or what I am good at or what clients want. Up till now I was mainly offering Google Analytics and dashboarding. Also Adwords. And some… And some copywriting in between with SEO. I think I fairly much enjoy what I do. For some time I thought I didn’t like the analytics and the dashboarding anymore. And for some time I thought I just wasn’t that good at Adwords or at delivering insights. I really like my blog writing, the tarot, doing yoga and travelling. But none of those are full time professions which will allow me to live comfortably. So back to what I know how to do and that’s the Google stuff, like it or not.”
“Why not trying and answering my questions?” the Wizard no longer tries to hide his annoyance with me. The cloud he is floating on is starting to turn an angry colour of purple too.
“I didn’t answer your questions?” I ask quite bemused as I was sure I just gave an extensive answer.
“No,” the Wizard snarls again. “Just lots of waffle.”
“Okay then I am good at talking about analytics, how to use it and why,” I reply again adamant to give a satisfactory response. “Same for Adwords etc. So I would make a good coach. Yes I am good at waffling. I am good at talking to people. I like talking about all the subjects I just mentioned.”
“Well then that’s what you emphasize,” the Wizard points out the obvious impatiently.
“Clients are looking for magical insights and solutions which will give them more insights,” I tell him with my eyes cast down on my hands. “Pity you can’t do the tarot for online marketing and analytics.”
“If you like talking to people, get on the phone and talk to people you don’t know yet,” the Wizard is egging me onto cold calling again. “You should read and practice charisma.”
“I could offer a better service if the Star worked more with me because together we are good,” I add extra enthusiasm to this idea as I want it to clearly outshine the prospect of cold calling. “I could get an aupair to take over the household and kids’ stuff. Then the service would be better and we could grow. Only I have no money for that. So it’s back to just me. I don’t like talking on the phone. I can’t sell and I can’t cold call. I also don’t have time for cold calling. We are going in circles.”
“Ok start there,” the Wizard answers amused. A circle is round. There is no beginning and no end.
“Start where?” I retort. “Just me? Yes it is just me again like back in 2011 before I had my melt down.”
“No you are avoiding fundamental issues to a successful business,” the Wizard twirls round and round, quite happily amusing himself on his lofty outlook on my life. “I am not interested in ‘could’ or ‘would be’ things. I like what is real and possible today that will produce momentum for tomorrow.”
“I am clueless,” I snap back again. “Today I have a full time job at BNP which makes growing my business difficult, especially for calling or meeting new clients. I now have a year to build up something again so that when the Star comes back next year I have a proper business again to employ her. The agency I work with now talked to me about analytics coaching for companies like Telenet and Belfius. Just one-off sessions, 5 or something per company. It just means a day off from BNP and talking at these companies, for a higher rate of course. I will just keep plodding on. Hate this feeling of being stuck. And the panic.”
“Yes I understand,” the Wizard empathizes.
“Wim will help me sell my Merc when he is out of hospital,” I say with certain dread. I always loved my Mercedes C-class. Hate the idea of having to get rid of it. But it must be done to cut costs. “When the Star is out I will use the Mini.”
“Good idea,” the Wizard makes another happy twirl on his pink fluffy cloud.
“It makes sense money wise,” I look at all practicalities of trading my Merc for the Mini. “You just can’t put anything in the Mini. It is tiny. But the Merc costs double the mini. Of course once the Star is gone and the Merc is sold then the panic is over. At least until next year. That’s like 3.000 Euro cost less per month. Of course my expenses in childcare will go up. And my sleep and life quality down.”
I sit up straight in my chair as I noticed I had started to slouch: “I keep getting chest pain. Especially in my right boob. Maybe I’ve got breast cancer and then all this would have been for naught. I know I am waffling on, but could you be brutally honest with me?” I now look intently at the Wizard hoping to get a straight valid answer from him. “How much help can I or should I expect from Wim, or from anyone for that matter? I have gently removed my employee, made my life difficult, and now I am going to get rid of my car too. When is he supposed to step in and say ‘that’s okay baby, I’ve got your back?’. I know I am responsible for my own choices and decisions. But really I shouldn’t be sitting here wailing and waffling on to you… Do I expect too much? I think I do actually…”
“Your guess is better than mine,” the Wizard flashes me a mysterious grin.
“I expect too much,” I conclude for myself. “And I do too much. I need to learn to do it all by myself. Nobody will save me. I remember that much. And I will have to see a doctor about my chest pain.”
“I wonder if you would best serve yourself by reading a few business books,” the Wizard coaxes my thoughts in another direction.
“Any recommendations?” I like this idea. Read up on things. Get new ideas. “Tim Ferris? I like the sound of the four-hour work week.”
“Time management springs to mind,” the Wizard tells me without batting an eyelid. “Assertiveness another. The art of negotiations perhaps. One plus one makes three.”
“Yes those all sound like interesting subjects,” I clap my hands with cheer and joy. “Shall I Google them or do you know a few books worth reading?”
“Google it,” the Wizard always evades being too specific when it comes to advise. Nothing is better than finding it all out for yourself.
“Okay. I need to relax right?” I repeat some advise I received a few months ago and never managed to apply. “And trust that things will unfold as they should. That’s what happened with the Star. Mind you, lots of coaching from your end to see the right solution.”
“Yes,” the Wizard nods. “Be patient.”
“I never know when to be patient,” I go on with doubt creeping in my voice. “Or if waiting is just waiting a long time for nothing to happen. You see this time last year I told myself that I would give myself one year to find something else to do with my life, something fulfilling and lucrative.”
“Try and plan before you act,” the Wizard gives me a stern reproachful look. “When you have considered the pros and cons, act.”
“One year later I am on the verge of bankruptcy and telling myself I now have a year to grow my business for the Star to come back,” I tell him as I marvel at the irony of how things have turned out.
“Gut feelings are not accurate,” the Wizard gives yet another mysterious reply. “The reptile brain makes mistakes. You need to think before you just do things. Knowledge helps. I am still waiting for the answers to my questions.”
“To your questions?” I enquire as I remember the previous thread of our conversation.
“Yes you have a year,” the Wizard confirms predictively. “Don’t let fear stop you. Cold calling is just phoning someone you haven’t met yet. You might even meet someone who could replace Wim.”
“You told me not to look for lovers in my work place,” I remind him. “I can’t do any of this anymore. I am very scared of the future. Don’t think I’ve ever felt this alone in my entire life. I just can’t do this. I can’t save myself and my kids. I am fed up. Cold calling really scares the shit out of me. I wish you would stop bringing it up. Besides I don’t have the time to be sitting at the phone making calls. Not at BNP anyway. ‘Hi my name is Fiona. Would you like me to coach your marketing team on optimizing the digital journey for your clients?’ Couldnt we just make a video with that message and then put that in an email and send that out instead? You are waiting for answers to which questions?”
I look round at the Wizard. His cloud has turned a nasty purple colour and gray streaks are swirling dangerously like a huge thunderstorm brewing. And with a clap and a bang he has disappeared into thin air, leaving a smell of Sulphur behind him.
* Disclaimer : Any resemblance between the fictional characters in this story and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle by chance more than by choice.