Having trouble staying focused on the task at hand due to all the opportunities your core competencies appear to entitle you to pursue?
You are not alone.
Even if your mature business or startup has generated a business plan, you feel the world is your potential oyster. Everyone can benefit from your product, platform or service. Well, maybe.
As the CEO of your startup, you task your first hire, the VP of Business Development, with the goal of “going out there and selling to anyone who will buy.” After all, they are the consummate sales person with an immaculate and impressive resume. That’s why you hired them. They can sell. Not something you want to be doing.
Plus, you never really bothered to learn your market space like the back of your hand. Hopefully your VP of Sales can make something out of your, well, not much.
Yikes, you couldn’t wait for someone to buy into you (and Angel investor, perhaps?) so you could offload business development and sales responsibilities to some sort of “sales type.”
And that’s how you let your customer base “happen.”
As the Sales Manager of your mature business, or even the VP of Sales, your goal is to cultivate new business from your existing customer base and, well, anyone else who will buy what you are selling. Not much difference from the start-up, in the long run.
As a result, the objective for business development and revenue generation for your small business , solo-preneurship, or fledgling enterprise is basically to chase after whatever piques your interest. It’s like coming home from the grocery store with two new kittens. They looked so cute and needy, sitting there in the crate, as you were leaving with your cart full of groceries (e.g., raw materials for your enterprise). Someone put them in your hands and you were “sold!” You didn’t bother to think what their cost of acquisition was (ongoing support and maintenance). Especially after they are diagnosed with ringworm.
We all have acquired, and subsequently been stuck doing business with, clients like that. With regret and 20/20 hindsight.
Selling, and business development, isn’t an indiscriminate practice. Even if you have a jaded and stereotyped bias towards the profession. Even if you are a college-graduate from an entrepreneurship program. Even if you are the CEO of your own start-up.
There is an art and science to it. Hiring your first VP of Sales can become the equivalent of bringing home that cute little kitten, or responding to a bright shiny object in a storefront during Christmas.
You can end up with a real gift or a dud.
Similarly, pursuing any and every market space which you feel your product can serve is as practical as herding kittens or trying to box up all those bright shiny objects you have collected over the years, thinking you might use them only to donate them to a charitable cause.
You remain unfocused and all over the place. Even if you’ve been in business for years and years.
You just can’t seem to be able to sit still and remain focused on maximizing your profit potential in your existing market space using your best stuff, your optimal offering. Instead, you need to constantly pursue something new and entertaining. And probably unprofitable for you in the long run.
What specific market or type of customer makes the most sense for launch or re-launch? How can you focus on that type of customer, build a loyal customer base, and use their referrals to leverage entry into a new market space?
Discipline your impulsiveness and your short attention span. Harness and prioritize your possibilities. Learn your market space instead of relying on someone else to “collect” it for you.
Otherwise, you aren’t doing anyone anywhere near the amount of good you can achieve if you stop chasing after everything that you fancy and start focusing on serving your potential customers’ needs.
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. 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.