Sure, things look good on paper. You have at least six weeks of projected accounts receivable. You can pay your subcontractors or employees. You project a strong sales pipeline for the rest of the year.
That’s what worked for your company in the past. That’s the scenario which should play out for the remainder of the business year, right?
Your small business may be in sales denial.
Small business sales denial starts when you, as your company’s CEO, start book-keeping and filling in the blanks on your accounting spreadsheet program, instead of correlating profitability with type of customer.
Small business sales denial continues when you believe the projections forecasted by your sales folks instead of scrutinizing how realistic these projections are compared to your short-term cash flow scenario.
That’s when you start expanding when you should be examining whether you are in growth mode at all. That’s when you start making capital expenditures so you are able to accept future complex projects that haven’t been sold yet. That’s when you start positioning your company to win business your business model was never created for.
I spend a lot of time working with small businesses who are doing great things. When we play 20 questions at the start of our engagement, they receive top marks in all areas of assessment.
Seriously, so what?
Which CEO is going to give themselves negative marks on an initial assessment? They want to focus on onward and upward. They don’t want to focus on what they’ve overlooked.
The majority of small business sales denial is grounded on assuming that your current customer base will be retained year after year.
The majority of small business sales denial also assumes that your current customer base represents the appropriate business mix for continued growth.
The majority of small business CEOs in sales denial leave customer base development and retention up to contracted sales professionals who have loyalty to a number of other companies.
When that happens, you – as a small business CEO – start working for your sales people instead of vice versa.
Small business sales denial is a question of recognizing and embracing your role as the Chief Sales Officer of your company. Your customers would much rather be speaking with the CEO – the real horse’s mouth – than one of your sales reps.
If you haven’t been going on sales calls with your reps, make this activity a monthly practice. Taking the time to intimately understand your customer base can mean the difference between flat-lining or growth, expansion and sustainability for your enterprise.
There’s no excuse for small business sales denial when you lead your revenue vanguard. In fact, your business outcomes can be revelatory.
Which customers will you visit this month?
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, is a management consultant and business coach. Babette develops business, technical and engineering professionals of worth. She remodels startups and small-to-medium manufacturing and service companies experiencing difficulty with unpredictable revenue streams (sales denial).
A recognized Top 50 Marketing & Sales Influencer, Babette’s blog won the 2014 Bronze Medal, Top Sales & Marketing Awards, Top Sales World. Her book on communication and collaboration strategies and tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.