More Than You Can Deliver storytelling is easily dismissed as both incredible as well as un-credible. First, you promise to deliver products, solutions, services and programs exceeding your professional capabilities. Then, your promises surpass your organization’s workforce, as well as manufacturing and assembly, competencies.
Pursuing those carrots, and lucrative client opportunities, leads you down a slippery slope. First, you convince yourself that, of course you can deliver what clients ask for. Then, once the sale is consummated, you admit those deliverables are not exactly in your current wheelhouse. (And never were part you our business model). Eventually, you bite the bullet. And, outsource program components to professionals more suited to serve your clients. Or, do you?
Over time, customer experience and satisfaction fall short of what is anticipated. Word of mouth becomes a problem. And your sales cycle begins, again, with less opportunities to work with clients you would love to work with. Why continue to jump at carrots beyond your reach?
Moving beyond packing more than you can deliver syndrome requires niche-specific, and honest, professional focus.
The contract sales force for one small manufacturing client I worked with is responsible for identifying and landing contracts. When the business owner asked me to help take their business to the next level, they were focused on selling more. Selling more than they could deliver, that is.
Because the real story emerging became that, once contracts moved in-house, employees had no background or skills training on how to deliver on these contracts.
Yes, of course, the company enjoyed three successful prior years of growth. Because their sales reps were better judges of their capabilities to deliver, than the business owner was. As a result, the reps sold to low-hanging fruit clients. Clients dangling low-hanging carrots. So, who would not think they were poised to move to the next level? Except, even those low-hanging fruit projects involved timelines, quality, and non-billable hours due to rework. And, due to past success, the business owner now targeted more complex projects and those carrots dangling way beyond everyone’s capabilities.
Yet, the small manufacturer saw no reason to hire an internal (or outsourced) engineer to oversee current, let alone future, technical specifications. Instead, the single most technically inclined, non-skilled employee dealt with pre- and post-sale engineering and customer satisfaction issues. Of which there were many.
Consider the liability of this business practice and business model. Especially the impact on customer retention, over time. Full ethical disclosure here. Instead of moving the business to the next, unfeasible, level, I recommended re-tooling (literally) and recalibrating the business and hiring models for this business. And improving quality of skills, output and service when serving current clients. So the company could then leverage existing client endorsements to acquire more discerning clients.
Regardless of whether you sell, manufacturer or serve clients, do you pack more than you can deliver into your business story? Instead of trying to be all things to all people, consider the value and integrity in sticking to the specific deliverables which make you the go-to resource for successful and retained clients. The types of clients you would love to work with, in the future.
Babette Ten Haken’s One Millimeter Mindset® Storytelling for STEM Professionals and Left Brain Thinkers speaking programs leverage purpose-driven value differentiation through storytelling, to create and retain successful employees and clients. Find out more about Babette’s professional story here. Babette is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association. Her playbook of communication hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Babette’s speaker profile is on the espeakers platform. Contact Babette here.
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