The Courage To Kill Sales
Henry Cloud wrote a book called, Integrity. In it, he gives a very accurate analogy of the people who are in our wake and the effect we are having on them. That is, he asks the reader to think of everyone as the captain of their own boat. Those around us — coworkers, customer service people, production, managers — are behind the boat (a.k.a. "in our wake") and are either waterskiing or drowning.
In time, each salesperson builds a book of business made up of a variety of accounts. Some clients were obtained via quote and others when a solution is provided and the price is not an option. Some are low-maintenance while others require an obnoxious amount of handholding. All of us have accounts and clients we would love to get rid of and we probably would were it not for the fact that they give us a substantial enough amount of work.
But what if we are the ones who are drowning? What if we are in the wake of a bad captain? Sure, it seems that the pain and stress they cause is offset by the sales volume, but what if we had the courage to shift sales gears, dump the accounts surrounded by negativity, and replace them with better business?
A few years ago, a client called to tell me he had just lost a $3 million annual account after many months of negotiating. It seemed the competition had come in and provided a deep discount to the point where there was literally no profit whatsoever. I recall he had told me what a nuisance they were to work with. Nothing made them happy and every nuance of the order was nit-picked in one way or the other. Then, after all was said and done they took nearly a year — yes, one full year — to pay an invoice.
All he could see, my client, were the top line dollars. He was ignoring the negative effect this business had on his company and everyone who touched their business. I promised him we would talk again in 12 months and he would be grateful to have cut the tow rope and watch this boat speed away. Sure enough, a year later, we were back on the phone having a good laugh over it all.
Do you have the courage it takes to eliminate bad business? Do you have the faith in yourself and your sales skills (or that of your salespeople) to make such a move?
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