14 Tips You Can't Afford to Miss

April 1, 2009
Prospecting, sales tracking, and working time-tested numbers work wonders.

If your thoughts are primarily fear based; if you're envisioning the worst for yourself and your business; if your conversations are focused predominately on bad news — then you're seriously impeding your own success.
Instead of listening to the negativity in the news, buckle down and determine to take three actions every single day to improve revenue.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Focus on the Business During Business Hours. Don't pick up the phone unless it's to generate business. Be ruthlessly disciplined about generating business as Job #1. Any activity that doesn't secure new business should be delegated, or done during non-business hours. Prioritize everything else around this fundamental principle. During business hours, dedicate yourself exclusively to building
your business.

2. Virtually Stalk your Prospects. Describe your ideal client. What types of organizations do they belong to? Join them. What kinds of publications do they read? Read them. What types of events do they attend? Attend them. Differentiate yourself with detective work about your targeted prospects. Research them; tap your network to learn more. This information helps warm up cold contacts, and sets you apart from most others who won't go to this much effort.

Work Backward to Move Forward. If you're tracking important ratios, you know how many qualified prospect meetings it takes to generate one client, and the average sale per client. With only these two pieces of information, you can control how much you sell each month. Determine desired sales volume, then conduct two to three times the number of qualified prospect meetings required to achieve it.

4. Invite Scrutiny. Whose business acumen do you admire? Who's already successful in your field? Whose clientele does your product or service complement? Invite these folks to be your Advisory Board. Meet quarterly to gain their advice on you business challenges. Advisory boards impose a level of scrutiny and accountability that both challenge and comfort. Ensure you get unbiased, unemotional, tough truths by not including friends and loved ones on the board.

. Your Pipeline is your Lifeline. NEVER stop prospecting. In good times or bad, keep your pipeline full! Even when you're flush with business, don't get cocky. Realize that if you wait to prospect until you need new clients; it'll be too late to achieve immediate results.

6. You Lag Before you Bag. The lag time between your first meeting with aqualified prospect and closing the sale is an essential ratio for
managing your productivity. The sales you bag today likely began at least threemonths ago!

7. Play the Numbers. Whether you enjoy it or not is irrelevant; networking is an imperative. Learn how to do it well. If you want to survive the lean times, you have to network regularly, and focus on helping others. Understand that networking is a numbers game. Play to win.

8. Don't Pander; Ponder! Showcasing your wisdom without taking time to probe causal factors can be insulting. Instead, honor the complexity of client issues. Be inquisitive about their goals, frustrations, hopes, and struggles. Then construct a matrix of options, and augment this with the advantages and disadvantages of each.

9. Prepare to Bend by Predicting the Trends. Be vigilant about monitoring relevant trends, since they're always in flux. Even more importantly, anticipate and maintain an awareness regarding forces that could affect the trends you're monitoring. Doing so enables you to foresee and adapt to emerging trends before your competitors do.

10. Don't Defer Getting Referrals. If you're not comfortable asking your
satisfied clients to provide referrals, do it anyway. Once you've delighted
them, conduct a brief interview to learn what they valued most about working with you. Using this information, draft a brief testimonial for them to edit and print onto their letterhead.

11. Publicize or Perish. Both credibility and sales increase from
publishing articles or books, and speaking on your area of expertise. And, it's easier than you might think. Every time you solve a problem for a client, produce an outline of the process from start to finish. Then fill in the outline, and there's your article or a speech. Multiple articles can comprise a book. Writing a book is less daunting if you write only one chapter at a time without thinking of it as a book.

12. Value for Free = Service for Fee. Consider providing an educational session to prospective clients at no charge, but structure the delivery so that they want more. For example, deliver the information you promised to deliver, but make reference to additional, high value information your clients receive.

13. Don't Attend Conventions without Clear Intentions. Recoup the
opportunity cost of attending conventions. Get an attendee list in advance
of the meeting, identify and research your targets before you even leave
town. Then make it your mission at the meeting to establish contact and
engage them. Remember: attendance is not an outcome. Make your attendance result in new business by preparing in advance.

14. Break it Down to Build it Up. Identify key result areas of your
business, such as prospecting, delivery, marketing, speaking, new product
development, etc. For each, write out measurable goals each quarter. Break these down into component parts, and include them in your calendar tool.

Negativity Busters Win
No matter how many of these tips you implement, your own outlook and
attitude can diminish their effectiveness. Those who prevail in difficult
times are the ones who steadfastly refuse to allow negativity to form a
barrier to their success. They instead deliberately and diligently take
constructive action, thereby refreshing and reinvigorating their minds and
their spirits, enabling them to take more action, which refreshes and

Francie Dalton is president and founder of Dalton Alliances, Inc, a Maryland-based consultancy specializing in the communication, management, and behavioral sciences. Her new book, "Versatility", published by ASAE, is available at www.daltonalliances.com. She can be reached at 410.715.0484