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Practice Management > Building Your Business

When times are hard, sell

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Eric Schmidt, the 100th richest person in the world, with a resume that includes work at Google and Apple, once said, “Revenue solves everything.”

When you have money consistently coming in the door, few problems are too big to tackle. You can hire new staff. You can bring in experts. You can outsource the work you aren’t good at or don’t particularly want to do.

As long as the business is moving forward, you will likely have the resources and the morale to handle new challenges. When new revenue (from completely new clients) stops coming in — despite how much momentum and power consistent revenue gives a business — a strange thing happens. Advisors, or business owners in general, turn their attention to almost everything but finding new business.

When they perhaps need growth the most, they instead fiddle with the backend of their businesses. They check and recheck their drip systems. They adjust their LinkedIn profiles. They check in with existing clients. They obsessively fine tune the plans and packages they offer. But they don’t make new sales calls. They become a party host so obsessed with getting everything just right for the big event that they forget to invite anyone.

Pulling back from your commitment to pursue growth through client acquisition is a monumental mistake that will ripple throughout your business. As revenue declines, the problems in the business will start to feel much larger and even direr. The resources you have to solve them are now painfully finite, and the stress of having to lurch from one fire to the next will eventually show in your temperament with your staff and with your clients.

When times are good, sell. When times are hard, sell even more. That can mean committing time and money to marketing when others don’t.

In fact, you should set up your sales pipeline in such a way that you almost have no choice but to sell. For example, in our business, we have two dedicated sales people. They are good at what they do, but we never hand them leads. If we hand them leads, we have just put obstacles between them and what they do best. If too many of those obstacles pile up, they will find little excuses here and there to avoid calling the leads or to call them as aggressively as they should.

They aren’t bad salespeople. This is just a natural human tendency.

Instead of handing leads to our sales people, we give them to a dedicated appointment setter. This individual has one job, and one job only. There is no side work or easier call to make. They set appointments for our sales team, giving our sales team a steady supply of new business opportunities that they have no excuse but to take. The lead has been vetted and the appointment has been set. The salesman can enter the opportunity focused entirely on the sale.

While it’s true that converting a cold lead to an appointment is technically part of the sales process, we’ve found that setting an appointment is itself a sort of sales process, and that process is different enough from the rest of the sale that it warrants its own expert. We’ve seen a great deal of success with this model in our business and in the businesses of advisors we work with.

For advisors, handing off everything but the actual sale itself provides two big picture benefits: The advisor can spend more time on actual growth, and the advisor eliminates the excuses or distractions that might have kept him or her from seeking out new sales opportunities.

Structure your business in such a way that growth remains your priority. Find a way to eliminate the distractions that keep you out of appointments and put systems in place where you have almost no choice but to sell. Start an appointment setting program. Build a network of professional partnerships. Host more webinars and events to get in front of new prospects.

If you strengthen your sales, you strengthen everything else in your business.

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