By now, I hope you have your list of A-List customers. A-List customers are the ones you do your best work for. You bring out the best in each other. B-listers can become A-listers with a lot of development on your part, as a Businessperson of Worth. Revenue Pothole Customers are the folks whose projects you take on to fill in those gaps in your revenue stream during the year.
Revenue Pothole Customers take up a lot of time, can be a pain in the butt and don’t represent repeat business. They are the customers you are always so tempted to take on, because their projects are easy, no-brainers, a piece of cake, you could do them in your sleep. They are your “just in case my business dries up” customers.
Is your entire customer base comprised of Revenue Pothole Customers?
Many of them may have been the original customers you sold to. There’s some sentimental attachment: they “got you to where you are today.” You feel you owe them something. You wouldn’t possibly think about cutting them loose or referring them to another vendor.
The more you gain mastery in your business, engineering and manufacturing space, the more time your Revenue Pothole Customers take up, don’t they? Revenue Pothole Customers always seem to pop up out of nowhere, with some low revenue job that is “instant cash” for your business. Except these customers really have no place in your current customer base.
You’ve moved on.
Revenue Pothole Customers, those C-list customers you haven’t yet jettisoned from your customer base, can swallow your time and attention whole. They take you back to a mental place where you have no reason to go anymore.
So why even entertain doing business with them? They are the low hanging fruit of project management. You know who they are.
Revenue Pothole Customers are those customers whom you only take on when you are absolutely at your last straw for sources of potential revenue generation for the quarter. Have you figured out just what that dollar figure represents? Have you calculated just what it would take for you to do business with these folks, “just one more time?”
Have you developed criteria for when, and when not, to accept a Revenue Pothole Customer? I suggest you do.
Once you’ve thought about all the reasons (hint: which should be close to None) for accepting work from these customers, you will have drawn your personal line in the professional sand.
You are better than that.
Well done. Your time is better spent on developing those B-list customers into A-listers. Have you worked on your criteria?
Babette N. Ten Haken, is President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC and author of its award-winning blog. She catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development for non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups. Her book on collaboration strategies, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.