The majority of the startup and SME (small manufacturing enterprises) CEO’s that I work with eschew selling. SME selling is someone else’s responsibility.
After all, this CEO has a PhD degree in an advanced engineering, medical or IT discipline. Their core curricula never included one single course in sales, let alone SME selling.
There’s a problem, though.
Your SME or startup has insufficient critical mass. You have 2 – 7 total employees. Although SME selling is “someone else’s’ job responsibility”, no one in your organization is standing in line to take on that responsibility.
So your enterprise languishes in inaction and negative cash flow.
Soon you realize that business doesn’t just “happen” by itself. The marketplace doesn’t come to a standstill to give you time to execute and deliver what you’ve just sold.
Someone constantly needs to make things happen. That someone is, unavoidably, YOU.
Sure you can hire contracted sales people for your organization, as you avoid your responsibility one more time. Sure these contracted sales people can close sales and bring revenue to your door.
Except for one small detail.
Until and unless you understand how and why your contracted sales people are closing sales, you might end up working to support your sales folk’s mediocre SME selling habits.
Chew on that one for a while.
Are your sales people selling to anyone who will buy? Are the buyers purchasing based solely on price instead of value? That’s the easiest sale to make.
Is that the type of customer you want to do business with?
- There’s something immensely compelling when you, the CEO, call on a prospective customer. Your leadership actions translate into your taking responsibility and accountability for your company’s throughput and manufactured outcomes.
- There’s something incredibly trustworthy when you, the CEO, sit around the table with their decision makers and look eyeball-to-eyeball when stating your capabilities and hammering out assurances.
- There’s something tremendously ethical when you, the CEO, roll up your sleeves and speak CEO-to-CEO about the issues that challenge both of your businesses.
That’s what selling is all about, folks. There’s nothing slimy, sleazy, cheesy or manipulative in any of these three scenarios I’ve just described, is there?
There’s something human and collaborative when you engage prospective customers in a business conversation.
You both just might learn something from each other which becomes the beginning of a beautiful and enduring business relationship.
My advice: Don’t be in such a hurry to hand off the most critical function of your startup or SME to someone who has far less vested interest than YOU in achieving a sustainable outcome.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She was named one of the 2014 Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers by Top Sales World. To build your SME sales strategy, start off by reading my book, Do YOU Mean Business.