Rob Frankel - Branding Expert

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Stacking Them Up Over Newark

Ah, summer. What could be better than lounging around the poolside, kids splashing in their swim masks and blow-up Barney toys, while a balmy breeze blows just enough to gently nudge the condensation from your Corona on to your lotion-lacquered lips?

I'll tell you what: getting more business. That's what.

Personally, I hate summer. I hate hot. I hate humid. And I especially hate the way clients have the nerve to take vacations. I admit it. I'm a business junkie. I sneak my Powerbook into the suitcase on every trip I take. In fact, I make up all kinds of excuses NOT to go to some tropical island paradise because I'm sure they don't have reliable dial up,

Summer sucks. It's slow. And when you add in the increased probability of being visited by annoying relatives, it's downright miserable. At least it was for me until a year or two ago.

A few years back, I realized -- like we all eventually do -- that 50% of business time is spent trying to get new business. The problem is -- and stop me if this HASN'T happened to you -- when you finally get the business, you drop everything to work on the business you get. Which is why I want to recommend replacing your current new business model with one patterned after PATCO. You know, the air traffic control guys.

I personally have shifted my business model away from the traditional linear view, in favor of stacking up business leads the way air traffic controllers do with arriving flights. I'm at it about 80% of the time and here's why:

1. My particular business has very long lead times. I can get a call from a guy who "needs it done by next week" on the first call, and by the time he eventually signs on the dotted line, "next week" has stretched to "six months." That's a long time to go without buying groceries, unless the other prospect you talked to eight months ago finally gave you his job during that time.

2. I'd say that 90% of most "new business inquiries" are just that -- inquiries. People sniffing around like dogs for a bone. Some asking for free stuff; others genuinely interested in doing business but utterly lacking in authority to do so. The truth is that a huge percentage of inquiries simply vaporize on their own.

3. Although it may be hard to believe, prospective clients do NOT have your welfare frontmost in their minds. They've got tons of other things to do, like, um, running their own businesses and paying their own rent.

Put it all together, and you can see how the name of the game isn't BUSINESS, it's DEAL FLOW. And most of us severely underestimate its importance. You can never have too many deals in the queue, because you know that most will -- through no fault of your own -- simply vanish for reasons beyond your control.

And if they don't? Hey, we all should have such problems.

To beat the summer doldrums, you gotta getting a running start in winter. If you haven't, start now. Keep those leads stacked up over Newark. Some will fly away, no doubt. But you'll greatly improve your chances of landing the rest of them.

Rob Frankel

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