In the interest of being timely, I’m going to steal a little thunder from an upcoming installment in my three-part series of DWM articles regarding what businesses should do to navigate this environment. In a soft market like this, it is critical to keep generating new business. So what exactly is it that we should all be doing today to win new business? GET ON THE PHONE.

When I was an investment advisor, it was always easy to call Granny Goodbucks when you’d made her a tidy sum on the stock you recommended the month before. When the market started to tumble month after month, though, most investment firms found they were saving a tremendous amount of money – on their phone bills. Advisors had quit calling their clients. They were afraid to talk to them because conditions were so poor. Aside from being inconsistent with building a world-class business, that lack of contact creates openings for competitors. I used to make the greatest number of calls when times were tough because you are more likely to find someone who really needs your help.

I would challenge everyone reading this message to make three phone calls today. The first will be easy-to a currently satisfied customer. In addition to your normal banter with them, though, ask them if there is any way you could win more of their business. Ask this question even if you think you have all of their business. You may be surprised with the answer. The second call is to someone whose business you’d like to win. Ask them how you could do so. The final call is to someone whose business you used to have, whether it was last quarter or five years ago. Ask them how you could win them back. If they were recently a good customer, you may find you never lost their business but that their sales are really just down that much.

If any of you take me up on this challenge, I’d love to hear the results of the calls. I can offer a 98 percent guarantee that the outcome will be positive, perhaps in interesting and unexpected ways.

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