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The Most Important Business Building QuestionsThe Most Important Business Building Questions

by John Chapin

What will I do today to grow my business?

This is the most important question to ask first thing in the morning. Your answer should revolve around proactive activities to grow your business. Ideally that activity consists of lots of in-person calls at best, and phone calls at the very least. Cold e-mails are one of the worst, if not the worst, forms of initial communication unless accompanied by a phone call or in-person visit.

I tell new salespeople, “Your number one priority in life is to go out and talk to new people about what you do. Everything else comes after that.” The only exception is if they have kids. In that case, the kids come first and the second priority is sales calls. It isn’t paperwork, cleaning your desk, spell-checking a letter, or answering a call from a client to tell them something basic like what address to send their paperwork to. Those tasks are done off-hours and ideally, most of the time, by other people.

One of the primary goals of your activity is to talk to and meet new people. This is one of the challenges I have with networking groups. You’re talking to the same people over and over again whose number-one priority is to sell you something as opposed to the other way around. I don’t have a problem with you going to Chambers of Commerce and BNI groups as an add-on, or for fun because you like the people, but you only go to these after you have your 50 cold/semi-warm calls (or whatever your number is to generate the new business necessary) done first. If you haven’t hit those numbers, you don’t go to the comfortable networking meeting and waste your time. That’s like eating candy so you don’t have room for dinner. Same with social media. That is done after your proactive marketing. Networking groups and social media aren’t proactive, they’re reactive because you have to rely on other people to contact you or give you leads. You can’t control your numbers that way. When you go out and knock on doors and ring phones, you control the numbers. I’m not saying don’t do other networking and social media, I’m saying you do them after your in-person calls and phone calls.

Note: A variation of the above question is: “What will I do tomorrow to grow my business?” You of course ask this question the night before. Come up with one, two, or three ideas and then set some goals around those. For example, 10 in-person cold calls, 30 follow-up phone calls, and 30 follow-up e-mails. You might even add sending out five handwritten notes. In blue ink of course.

What am I doing right now to grow my business?

Use this question to stay focused on your sales numbers during the day. If it’s currently prime time (the time in which you can reach prospects), you should be prospecting, presenting, and closing 80% of the time, or more. I recommend you make two signs in the largest font possible on your computer that say, “Am I prospecting, presenting, or closing right now?” Put one at your work desk and the other in your car if you make in-person calls. If it’s 5 a.m. and the answer is ‘no’, that’s fine. If it’s 11 a.m. on a Wednesday and your prospects work a typical 9-to-5 day, and your answer is ‘no’, that’s a problem. Granted, some of this time might be travel time but, the focus should be on driving to make a cold call or follow-up call with a prospect. Also, you of course want to use your time wisely by grouping calls together.  

What did I do today to grow my business?

What are your results at the end of the day? Did you hit the numbers you needed to hit to be successful? How many people did you call on and how many did you actually talk to? Based upon your annual, monthly, weekly goals, and daily activity, did you get done what needed to get done? All of this leads to the ultimate question, the answer of which best determines sales success or failure: How many new people did I make aware of my business today?

Also remember how important persistence is. 81% of appointments are made after the fourth contact. 80% of salespeople don’t make the initial four contacts. The average executive gets 400 e-mails a day and has 52 hours of unfinished work on their desk. It’s not that they aren’t interested or don’t want to hear from you. When they have a to-do list of 76 items and you show up as number 77, it’s most likely going to take some time to move up the list. Either way, on the day they do wake up thinking about doing something related to the product or service you sell, you want to be the next thought in their brain.

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to:  John has over 31 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail:

John Chapin

#1 Sales Rep w 32+ years’ experience, Author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards) – also the largest sales book on the planet (678 pages).


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