Tips to help your business avoid becoming a casualty of the economy

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 succumbing to all the negative blathering, buckle down and determine to take three actions every single day to improve revenue. Here are some suggestions.

1. Don't pick up the phone unless it's to generate business. Be ruthlessly disciplined about generating business as job No. 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.

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. This information helps warm up cold contacts and sets you apart from most others who won't go to this much effort.

3. Work backwards to move forward. You should 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? Invite these folks to be your advisory board. Meet quarterly to gather advice on your business challenges. Ensure you get unbiased, unemotional, tough truths by not including friends and loved ones on the board.

5. Remember: 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. Remember that you lag before you bag. The lag time between your first meeting with a qualified prospect and closing the sale is an essential ratio for managing your productivity. The sales you bag today likely began at least three months ago.

7. Play the numbers. Whether you enjoy it or not is irrelevant; networking is imperative. Learn how to do it well.

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. Even if you're not comfortable asking your satisfied clients to provide referrals, do it anyway.

11. Publicize or perish. Both credibility and sales increase from publishing articles or speaking on your area of expertise. It's not that hard. 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 voila, you have an article or a speech.

12. Don't attend conventions without clear intentions. Recoup the opportunity cost of attending conventions. Get an attendee list in advance of the meeting, and 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.

13. Break it down to build it up. Identify key result areas of your business, such as prospecting, delivery, marketing, etc. Then 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. They instead deliberately and diligently take constructive action, refreshing and reinvigorating their minds and their spirits, enabling them to take more action, which refreshes and reinvigorates.

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