This week I want to tell you about a daily habit that has the power to substantially increase your sales – and sharply reduce the hills and valleys in your business. I call it Daily Sales Networking, and it goes like this…
The program in a nutshell
Daily sales networking simply involves making outbound calls – to prospective customers, and to sources of leads, referrals and introductions to prospective customers – on a daily basis. That last phrase, “on a daily basis,” is the key to success. The idea is to make a minimum number of fresh, new outbound calls each and every business day – without exception. Using what we call our “Min-Max System” you establish the minimum number of calls that you commit (to yourself) to make each day (that’s the “Min” part) and on days when that first call goes well, and you’re on a roll – you keep on making calls – and take it to the “Max.” (That’s the “Max” part.)
Many of my clients commit to making just *one* new call or contact each day – usually because, as business owners, they have so many other responsibilities. (If you’re a professional salesperson, this doesn’t apply; you will want to set a minimum that is higher, obviously.) But even if a business owner makes just one completed call a day, that will total about 22 new sales connections every single month. Compare that to competing business owners who may (or may not) make even a few new calls each month. That’s why I describe this program as a game changer. If you do this – and if you keep it up – you will be unstoppable. The “valleys” in your business will be shallower and less frequent – and your likelihood of success will increase significantly. (My clients who get on the program – and stay on it – report feeling a real sense of control over their sales, often for the first time since they started out in business. And, of course, they also experience an immediate, and sustained, increase in sales).
While most of my clients are in Business to Business (B2B) sales, daily sales networking is very effective in B2C (Business to Consumer) as well. Clients in retail and professional services of all kinds tend to have difficulty with the concept at first, but usually have great success once they’ve expanded their comfort zones (we do this by coming up with good “non-salesy” reasons to call — like hosting special events and calling to invite them, before we segue into talking business. business.)
Email and LinkedIn can be used as well
No. You are not limited to the telephone. You can email a potential source of an introduction to a prospect you want to meet – or you can use LinkedIn to request an introduction from a contact. The medium you use doesn’t matter, as long as you make a fresh new call or contact each and every day.
The keys to success
- Set the “Min” bar so low that it would be embarrassing *not* to make that minimum number of calls each and every business day.
- Prepare lists – in advance – of the various people you can call – by category.
- Create a special data base and spreadsheet and update it continuously.
- Brainstorm who to add to your list with other people you work with.
- Categories may include past and present clients, who may be sources of referrals and introductions; other business owners who work with the same customer segments as you; vendors you deal with; people in your personal and business networks who may be able to introduce you to a prospect you want to reach; LinkedIn contacts who may be able to refer or introduce you, and so on.
- Always ask questions like, “who should I be talking to?” and keep building your lists of people to call or contact.
- Don’t make cold calls. If you want to reach out to targeted prospective customers – without a referral or introduction – make “warm calls.”
- While cold calls are “salesy” (because we’re usually trying to get an appointment), warm calls offer something of value in the process of introducing ourselves to prospects.
- For example, if you’re holding a special event (a beef and beer or wine and cheese open house, for example, or a lunch and learn; an anniversary event, or a new product introduction) that gives you a great reason to call – both to introduce yourself, and to request their direct email addresses so you can send them an invitation. Knowing who to call at prospect companies is now easier than ever. Simply look them up on LinkedIn and research their websites. (Important note: These invitation/introduction calls can turn into conversations that lead directly to sales.)
- Pick a best time to make your calls (many of my clients find that 11 a.m. is perfect. The early morning rush is usually over. So is morning coffee. And no one has left for lunch. Another good time is 7 a.m. Many business owners are the first to arrive at work; there are usually no gatekeepers, and you may have a better chance of getting right through.)
- Key point: Don’t skip a day and try to make up for it later. This could be the death of your program. You can’t make up these calls later, because there just won’t be time. (If your “Min” is two and you skip a day, that means your Min is four the next day – that’s double your original Min – and you won’t catch up. Miss two days and your Min is now six. Result: You will just let it go !!). If you must miss a day, there’s no need to make it up; just make your Min the next day.
- No matter how busy you are with other things, there is always time to make one call in an entire day. Remember, in many cases, you’re going to get voice mail, so if you have well scripted voice mail messages, you can often make a complete new call in less than a minute. There are no excuses.
- If in your enthusiasm, you were too optimistic about your “Min” number, adjust it downward (many people I work with think they can easily make a minimum of five new calls a day, when in reality they discover that two is a challenge. Set yourself up to succeed; not to fail.)
- Remember that there is a “Max” element to the equation. Just because you set a Min of one call, doesn’t mean you have to stop at one. When you’re on a roll, keep it going!
- Use the buddy system. Partner with a salesperson or other business owners – and hold each others’ feet to the fire (gently, of course).
- Make your lists as large and diverse as possible. This introduces variety and even an element of fun to your program. (“Hmm. Which vertical or specific prospects will I target this week?”)
- Because this is pro-active “outbound” sales generating activity, don’t count calls where you’re responding to incoming leads. The idea is to make a ritual of contacting a minimum number of “new” prospects or sources of introductions to new prospective clients, each and every day.
- To be effective, the min max program has to become a ritual. You don’t leave home without getting dressed. You don’t leave work without making your Min. Because continuity and consistency are the keys to success, self discipline – and mutual support if you use the buddy system – are the most important keys to your success.
When a client starts a daily sales networking/min-max program, they invariably experience a boost in sales. And, when their sales drop off, I’m no longer surprised to learn that they “got too busy” (with those new sales) – and let their min-max program slide (“welcome back, hills and valleys”). When I call a client to check on their progress – and they say that sales are slow – the conversation often goes like this.
Them: “We’re surviving, but things are very slow
Me: “What do you think is happening?”
Them: “People are really confused about where the economy is heading and just aren’t buying…”
Me: “How’s your Min-Max program going?”
Them: “Pretty good. I’ve been too busy to make calls every day, but I try to catch up by the end of the week…if I can…”
Me: (Speaking silently to myself). “Here we go again…”
Magically, when they get their daily sales networking/min-max program going again, sales rise again – even in the worst of economic conditions. Go figure?
Special Note: Our new edition of “The Business Owners Survival Guide,” is now available
The new 2020 Coronavirus Edition delivers 40 pages of the best ideas developed during my 35 years of turnaround work with small and mid-size companies in crisis. This edition is published as a PDF file, so you will receive an immediate download. My promise as always: No filler and no fluff. Just 40 pages of hard hitting ideas you can choose from, tweak, and apply immediately.
When you receive your copy, please print it out, and use the spaces at bottom of each page to make note of ideas that catch your attention, or that you come up with while reading. Then prioritize your ideas and write up specific action steps that you will take. This will help you turn the raw material of ideas into the finished product of things that actually get done. Please see below for topic highlights and ordering. Enjoy!