Yup. Time marches on. The end of the 1st quarter, 2012 approaches! Is everyone getting jitters about meeting their quotas, numbers, bonuses, payroll, you name it?
About three (wow, three) years ago, I wrote a post titled “5 Steps for Spring Cleaning Your Client Closet.” Remember what we were doing as Spring ’09 approached? Beginning to realize the full impact of the economic meltdown of the past two fiscal quarters.
Many of our “client closets” had been cleaned out for us, involuntarily.
Because we were doing business with customers who had no business being our customers.Because we were doing business with legacy customers who had been with us from the start, but whose business had dropped off due to various factors we – or our bosses – hadn’t (a) noticed, (b) taken the time to discuss with them, or (c) due to our company’s moving into new directions.
Fact of the matter is, I live in a place where there are seasons. And when I “change out” my clothing from summer to winter and winter to summer, I also take a long look at the direction in which my business is going. At least twice a year (but more like, constantly).
Take a look at the people and customers and organizations who inspire you to do your best work. Take a look at the people and customers and organizations who, quite frankly, drain you and your company’s energy, resources, creativity and insights. Because it’s more important to them to be negative rather than collaborative. Take a look at the bottom line value (yes, it always does seem to come down to “worth”) of your continuing working with these customers.
And trim your client closet.
Your “best” customers may neither be the ones who represent the largest revenue contributor nor the ones that represent the longest-term “sexy” projects to work on. They may give you a ton of small projects which tie up your production lines – often at the spur of the moment – and derail operations. They may want you to drop everything and manage their latest crisis – causing you to jiggle every other appointment you had scheduled – simply because this is a “big name” customer and, therefore, in their mind, have the option to be divas. Ultimately, how does working with customers like these impact your overall productivity and profitability?
Does every project need to be a crisis? Because if it does, perhaps you thrive on excitement and firefighting – which may not be in the best interests of long-term business building.
Perhaps the first thing to clean out in your client closet is your “mental” and “emotional” script of what it looks like, sounds like and feels like to head up your own business. Then you’ll establish that 10,000 foot eagle’s eye view of your client closet – and understand why you attract the types of customers that you do.
Do your “best” customers share the same value systems as one another? While they may come from diverse industrial or entrepreneurial segments, they need to be willing to collaborate across silos within their organizations and with each other in a forum setting. We all do our best work like this, together. We all learn from each other.
And, together, we inspire each other.
You don’t need more customers. You need more customers like the ones you do your best work for. The ones who bring out your best.
Head to your client closet.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.