The seller-doer marketplace is demanding when it comes to fueling one’s revenue stream. It is a world where everyone wears multiple hats, simultaneously. The person selling the products, services or platforms may not only bring the contract in-house, they may also put on their project management or engineering hat to create output. They can find themselves in the role of customer service rep creating an interface between their customer and the rest of the staff. If production and assembly is shorthanded, that same individual may roll up her sleeves to get the deliverables out the door. Then it’s time to put the sales hat back on once again, and hunt for more business.
That person may have the title of CEO.
There’s an adrenaline rush associated with remaining hands-on performing the internal tasks resulting in the input-throughput-output that serves one’s customers. However, once your business gains traction in the marketplace, demands from business volume and production outstrip your ability as CEO to remain actively involved in the day-to-day excitement and firefighting.
It’s time to be the CEO. Really. That means trading Doing for Selling.
The more your business grows, the bigger the demand to generate revenue to support your infrastructure. The more you generate revenue, the greater the demand on your time to lead your organization and leverage your professional network to fill your sales pipeline.
Are you stuck in the day-to-day and unable to wrestle yourself free to create that network to be leveraged during selling trips? Perhaps your habit of remaining involved in busy work (even if you are Everything within your company) prevents you from winning business that can move your company from small to mid-cap status.
You may be far more comfortable than you realize in your role as Chief Executive Doer.
If you are a technical, financial, engineering, architectural or software business owner or manufacturer, chances are you took your technical acumen, applied it in a consulting capacity, won early clients, gained traction and created a full-fledged business. You remain firmly rooted in your technical mindset and discipline: it’s what got you to where you are today.
It’s just that you never quite became a world-class Seller.
If the truth be known, you don’t feel comfortable having selling conversations, even after all these years. Those conversations still feel unnatural. They make you feel behind the 8-ball. You hope they are over quickly. You hope there is no competition and you can win the contract easily.
You retreat into Doing, hiding behind busy work and tactical firefighting. Your habits short sell yourself and your business. You are not able to win the types of contracts that can take your company into a new marketplace, because you won’t learn those rules of engagement.
Perhaps you decide to address this situation by hiring a VP of Business Development for your firm. That individual can be anyone from your brother-in-law to an outside sales professional who was a tactical quota-driven rock star in their last job. They become your hired gun. You are off the hook to Sell. Your directive to them is to go out and bush rustle and generate business.
Except the type of business they bring in-house may look like it was, indeed, rustled from bushes. The buck stops with you.
If you cannot clearly articulate the tangible benefit customers can expect to gain from doing business with you and your company, how do you expect your business development folks to aim at appropriate target customers? Understandably, these folks do know the industry and marketplace. However, think about the power of having the CEO supporting their efforts by spearheading the strategy behind their business development initiatives.
Doer CEOs who become Figurehead CEOs need to keep their fingers on the pulse of business development. Perhaps it’s time to move one millimeter or so outside of your current comfort level.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, catalyzes revenue-producing business transition, startup growth and professional development, one millimeter at a time. She works with manufacturing and engineering firms and small business entrepreneurships. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page.