Here's a philosophy to help you get through what's likely to be another tough year: Accept what's going on, and learn. It seems half the economists say we've hit rock bottom while the other half predict the worst is yet to come. They're no help; as playwright George Bernard Shaw noted, "If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion." But that line of economists does point one way–toward fear. You must decide whether to succumb to this mindset or fight it.

To battle back, try these two ideas. They work in tandem, one enhancing the method of communication and the other providing ways to improve your message.

1. Prospect Like Bunches

Situation: Clients are difficult to reach and hard to schedule for appointments. Solution: Instead of making 100 phone calls over a long period to get a few appointments, contact 100 people at once and have them call you. How? By making 2010 the year you write your first e-mail newsletter.

Publicize your next special offer or the latest new product by sending a personalized e-letter to all of your closest customers and prospects. There are numerous software programs that enable you to insert a client's name directly into an e-letter. The content you include should be relevant to your market and provide tips for your audience along with a soft sales pitch.

You will be pleasantly surprised by the results you achieve from people who are grateful that you have communicated so professionally rather than making an inconvenient phone call during their busy day. The result will be that people contact you to schedule appointments rather than your having to cold-call them. The quality of your sales calls will escalate while the long-term sales results will be more powerful.

2. Practice a Second Language

Situation: Your message and promise to customers is dull and listless and you don't even know it. Solution: Rethink your message to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Too many dealers' websites deliver the same boring messages about their companies. They boast about their legacy–e.g., "We go back generations"–while sticking with old adages such as "We provide exceptional service and value." Such a claim might be true for your company, but it is the same promise that your competition makes.

Try to stand out from dealers that can't stop talking about themselves by first giving your website the "we-we test." Count the number of times you reference your company in terms of "we," "our," or the name of your company. Then count the number of statements focused on "you," the customer. You quickly get a sense of the message you deliver, intentional or not. The more you talk about your company, the less customer-driven your image.

Instead of saying "We are...", try saying, "You get." Instead of describing "three generations of family tradition," try saying, "You get the confidence of a company that has thrilled customers for 50 years." Instead of "value," offer "confidence." Instead of "service," promise "products and resources that improve your profits." Then deliver on your promises.

The challenge today is the competition for mindshare. Given the constant bombardment of information and growing stress from operating with limited resources, the winners will be those that provide a positive promise of convenience, dependability, and profits for the customer. Efficient communication is a vital step toward managing client expectations. Develop constructive content and effective delivery of your message. In a world of negativity, positive results will come to you.

Rick Davis is president of Building Leaders Inc., a Chicago-based sales training organization.
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