Direct Marketing Article
14 Tips for Small Businesses to Thrive in a Down
By Francie Dalton
If your thoughts are primarily fear based, if youíre envisioning the worst
for yourself and your business, if your conversations are focused
predominately on bad news, then youíre seriously impeding your own success.
Instead of giving succor to all the negative blathering, buckle down and
determine to take three actions every single day to improve revenue! Here
are some suggestions.
1. Donít you DARE Pick up that Phone Unless itís to Generate Business! Be
ruthlessly disciplined about generating business as JOB ONE. Any activity
that doesnít 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
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, sets you apart from the most others who wonít go to this
3. Work Backward to Move Forward: If youíre 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? Whoís already
successful in your field? Whose clientele does your product or service
compliment? 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.
5. Your Pipeline is your Lifeline: NEVER stop prospecting. In good times or
bad, keep your pipeline full! Even when youíre flush with business, donít
get cocky. Realize that if you wait to prospect until you need new clients;
itíll be too late to achieve immediate results.
6. You Lag Before you Bag: The lag time between your first meeting with a
qualified prospect and the closing the sale is an essential ratio for
managing your productivity. The sales you bag today likely began at least 3
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. Donít 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 theyíre always in flux. Even more importantly,
anticipate and maintain an awareness regarding forces that could affect the
trends youíre monitoring. Doing so enables you to foresee and adapt to
emerging trends before your competitors do.
10. Donít Defer Getting Referrals: If youíre not comfortable asking your
satisfied clients to provide referrals, do it anyway! Once youíve 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. Itís not that
hard! Every time you solve a problem for a client, produce an outline the
process from start to finish. Then fill in the outline, and voila, you have
an 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
13. Donít 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 calendaring tool.
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 Ė who 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
About the Author
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, ďVersatilityĒ, published by ASAE, is
available at www.daltonalliances.com along with more information about her
consulting. Reach her at 410-715-0484