Asking For the Advance

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Hi, this is Mo. In this video, we’re going to talk about something interesting. It’s the nexus, or the Venn diagram, of two particular things. The first is the stuff that we teach around business development, which is a holistic business development process. The second are the things that our clients rarely do before they meet us. This is interesting because it’s the middle. It’s the intersection of things that we at BIG know pretty well that few people are doing. And here’s the topic: it’s measuring things that you can control.

I want to tell this story through something I learned as I measured some stuff that was in my control. One of our clients was measuring ‘Asks for the Advance’. Asking for the Advance is something that we teach in GrowBIG®. It’s all about asking for the next step proactively in a way that’s helpful for the client. It would be like saying, “Would it be helpful if we…” and ask the client on a phone call, in person, over email, or wherever for the next step in the process. We find that it can speed things up.

This client was actually measuring ‘Asks for the Advance’. It’s something that I never thought about measuring before they started doing it. The measurement is a little subjective, but it’s very important. I decided to measure my success in asking for the advance and give it a whirl. I’m sort of our test case number one. At BIG, we drink our own champagne, and I wanted to measure how well it really worked.

Well boy, it did. Here are my results for the first several weeks I did it. The first week I decided to do this was on a Friday, so I looked backwards and tried to estimate that week. How many times did I ask for the next step in the process? And I thought it was 6. I’m really sure I went back and thought over my emails, phone calls, and meetings. And what I got was 6. That week after I got 6, I got 26.

I couldn’t believe it. I focused on it and I found new ways of asking for the advance I’d never thought of. I was even mad at myself on several calls after I hung up the phone, I thought I could’ve asked for advance. I didn’t get a check mark, I didn’t get a count that number. Then I had to work harder the next to make sure I remembered. The week after the 26, I wanted to beat my record. I had a little time, I got to 27. It’s amazing what a metric can do to drive behavior. The week after was not so good; I only got 14. After that, 31, an all-time high. After that, 20. Week after that, 29 and that led me to a week when everything changed.

The perfect storm happened. We had an asset that we could send to a client that was really good. We had an article published in a really high profile website. I had time on Wednesday that opened up because a client had to get cancel due to things that they had going on internally. So here I had this full day, I had an asset to send, so I busted it. The whole day I worked on sending the asset out to people, custom crafting an email, making it personalized, finding a way to tie the article to things that they were dealing with, and at the end of every email I would ask for the next step. I made phone calls, I went deeper into our prospect list than I’d gone for a while. I finished that Wednesday night with 31. I had tied my all-time record.

I instantly messaged our COO. She’s sort of my accountability partner if you will. I thought she’d give me a high five over our instant messaging platform. I thought she’d be excited, and she wasn’t. She replied back with one sentence. “Why don’t you go for 50?”

I was angry. I went home that night, I talked to my wife about it. “Can you believe she said that? Does she understand how much work this is? How much time I spent in every single phone call and email and every ask?” After about two hours of complaining I realized, I can get to 50. I’m busy the rest of this week, but I’m going to go for it. If nothing else I’m going to show Darla I can do it and show myself I can do it. I started thinking of strategic partners I could reach out to, prospects that I hadn’t talked to in a while. What was the meaningful quick way I could just check in on somebody? It didn’t always have to be about that article. I ended up Friday afternoon sprinting across the finish line at six o’clock that evening, and I had 51. There was something special about getting one more than what the new goal was, but it got to 51.

The first thing this proves is that measurement works. A couple months later our pipeline had more than doubled because of this one behavior change. The lagging indicator, the pipeline, was perfectly correlated to the leading indicator of asking for the next step in the pipeline process.

The other thing I learned is that when you measure something, it drives focus. It galvanizes effort. It gets you excited. Looking back at that first week I had only six asks, I never would have thought the next week I could get 26. After 26, I never would’ve thought I would’ve reached 50. The point of it is, when you start measuring it creates a benchmark, then interesting things happen with you that make you want to exceed whatever your prior results were. It’s very motivational.

Here’s a thought I’d like to invite you to think about. Is there some kind of behavior, something you can control, something you can measure that you can track on a post-it note, you can put in a spreadsheet, you can tell an accountability partner about? Is there something you can measure that you think would correlate to your long term success that is 100% in your control, that you can start driving focus around?

Measure it and see what results you come up with. You probably won’t know what the number is, but once you get a benchmark number the first week it will drive your effort for future weeks.

Let me know if that helps. I’d love to hear from you. Like all of our videos, we hope that this idea helps you help your clients succeed.