Every business needs clients, and the best businesses have the right number of the right clients and a flow of business that is reliable and sustainable. The “right” number of clients reflects the capabilities of the business, its capacity and product supply. The “right” clients get great value from the products or service and because of that value, they pay well and on time. More than that though, they refer and recommend the business and help to maintain the flow of business. That is something that every sustainable organisation needs.
The business audit (click here…) overall results show that generally small businesses believe that their products are well, or very well, differentiated in their markets, yet they also commonly report their pipeline of business to be worse or much worse than their peers – and is delivering unpredictable sales volumes. Whilst those results confirm that many businesses need to improve sales, it is often not about the number of them, its about quality.
When you get a call from a good prospect, in your target market, wanting your core skill there’s no reason to turn the work away, provided you (honestly) have the capacity to handle it. Yet for many, there is an issue when it’s someone from a different market, that you don’t know so well, or wanting a different skill. When things, as they always will be from time to time, are quiet, and a possibility of work comes along that isn’t quite the right client, or for quite the right product there is always going to be a temptation to take it.
The best businesses resist that temptation.
What happens if you succumb? Can you do the job justice? Will you deliver the quality that the client expects? Have you got spare capacity (and what does spare mean)?
Over and over in my mentoring work, I see clients who have taken on a piece of ‘available’ work and then had a bit of a nightmare. The client isn’t their target client (so they don’t really understand the culture, or issue as well as they might have done). The work isn’t quite your normal fare either, so it doesn’t fit their process as well as the other work, they make mistakes, and have to learn a new way of working. And the end result? The client is disappointed, or worse, feels let down. That mood spreads. You don’t get referrals, a seed of doubt is growing in the market. If your business relies on word of mouth, you better be sure the word is good.
In some cases, it can be worse than that. The relative performance of the work for the new client can lead businesses to start to doubt their capability, their skill. Self-doubt is like cancer, it pervades the organisation, and damages it.
Building Better Business isn’t about the number of sales, although that can have a part to play, its far more about ensuring that what you do is the best of what you do, all the time. Making a sale isn’t the important thing. Delivering, surprising, delighting everyone you work with matters far more.