Open for Business

A rhetorical question is "asked solely to produce an effect rather than to elicit a reply," as defined on It may not fit this definition exactly, but when your boss asks, "How was your Christmas?" your answer is not nearly as important as the desired effect this common post-holiday question is meant to produce, which is, "welcome back to the grind, I hope you're ready."

A business year spent selling requires you grind it out. Not all weeks are the same, nor are the turbulent days within those weeks that fly by one quarter at a time. Business won, business lost, and even proposal activity are like the weather. Once you have done your rain dance, you have no control over the outcome. You can however, always control your preparation.

Here are two simple steps that will bring you nicer weather this year, as well as stronger protection from the inevitable storms. The first step is for you (not an assistant) to type up a Word document listing the names of the top 25 people you need to influence this year to earn the business they influence. Try naming a few right now. The first five will come easily, but then most of you will start to stall. The mistake we all make is, we think about our business based on the names of the accounts we covet as opposed to the names of the people who work on those accounts.



So before the new year is a full week old, type up your list (I would be more comfortable with a minimum of forty names), and include accurate contact information for each and their role in the decision-making process on the accounts you have chosen to win this year. What you will find through this exercise is that you can go relatively deep on the accounts that are currently running business with you, but on accounts you have not won, the names of those you need to win over will not be complete enough. So spend the next few days filling in those gaps.

Now once your entire list is complete, contact everyone on it with a creative mailing along with a letter or a hand-written note (hold off using e-mail). Your written communication should be to the point. Let them know your property offers a solution to the marketing challenges they face, and it is your intention to earn their recommendation (fill in "again" when need be) this year. Couch this message as formally or as informally as you need to, based on the relationship in place with your recipient. Then conclude by sharing your agenda to meet with them this quarter by phone or in person, whichever they prefer, to validate your intention to help them succeed this year.

Once your mailing has dropped, then employ e-mail to help close a combination of face-to-face and voice-to-voice meetings (as for the latter, if a conference call is scheduled with a predetermined and agreed-to agenda, it can be very effective and should be counted as a "sales call"). These two relatively simple steps will produce forty well-targeted sales calls to add to the mix of impromptu calls you will go on this first quarter.

If everyone in your sales organization, from publisher on down, took these steps in the first week of the New Year, your whole company would get off to a great start, and Christmas could come a little earlier this year.

Next story loading loading..