By the time you are really feeling the need for something to happen, it's often too late.
I encounter this a lot in my work with entrepreneurs. It usually goes like this:
Someone casually puts me in touch with an entrepeneur that they think might be interested in "learning more" about demand generation. We find time for a phone chat or a coffee.
At this phone call or coffee meeting, I find out that they aren't actually needing insight or advice, they need help. Serious help. They're in big trouble. Sales are low, not ramping, or non-existent. Money is gone or almost gone, they tell me they are looking for ideas and potential solutions and interested in exploring their options.
At this point, more often than not they are well past the "needing ideas" stage.
What they are really feeling is the onset pain of the early stages of a dying business.
I've been in their shoes enough times myself to be able to see this very clearly now. They are looking for something quick, or a quantum leap. And I often hear things like,
"We just need 1 or two really solid clients and we'll be through this blip."
"We've got a major contract right on the verge of closing that will carry us through this and get us to the next level, but it's just taking longer than we anticipated for it to come through."
Sound familiar? Yep, they are excuses.
I totally get it. I made these mistakes. I was right there. Want to know what happened? Those 1 or two really solid clients never materialized or the major contract right on the verge of closing never came to fruition. I was left wishing I'd filled my schedule with the smaller clients instead, regardless of what others told me.
Now these issues are much more common in B2B start-ups when you are selling higher-ticket, higher-touch. It's naturally a more complex sale, it takes longer, there's more at stake and the decision making process is less straightforward.
This is exactly why building a pipeline of lots of clients, instead of just 1 or 2 is what you'll need to help you get through the setbacks that will inevitably happen. Having a strong sales pipeline in place before the storms come can help you face some of these situations in your business with more grace:
- They don't sign (or worse, they ghost).
- An unexpected expense arises.
- You need to obtain financing and can't get a loan or an investor (your incoming client receivables can be used to back a loan).
- You need to expand, but you can't afford it.
Do not wait until the setback comes, dig your well before you are thirsty. Once you put your sales pipeline in place, and make actively prospecting a habit and a task you do each day, (instead of a last minute hair on fire panic that leaves you kicking yourself and wishing you'd done months prior) is the best gift an entrepreneur can give themselves.
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