Just back from my last business trip, I take a moment to meditate a bit on what is going to happen in next months. Which customers will continue cooperation with my company and which of them will unfortunately finish it.
After founding two companies since 2009 I can say that the most unpleasant element which is always present everywhere is what I just mentioned. While we are fighting to maintain customers and do our best to expand their business, many times is hard to take strategic and managerial decisions because we are not able to retrieve all the elements we need.
First of all, and this is the most important one, because affects our balance-sheet is payments. Today many companies are working in a so called “limit situation” that means, you are the last of a chain of payments.
If your customer doesn’t receive money you are not paid or you are paid with delay. Another reason could be represented by the fact that you are considered as low priority because you are a consultant. Customers prefer to pay their employees first and then you. Again we are talking about delays. In this case I recommend avoiding dealing with customers paying you with too much delay. It’s better to look for new customers paying you less but regularly.
Anyway there are many other elements that influence this status of uncertainty like unclear sales strategy, management not properly willing to take decisions which may be very important for the future development of the company, products roadmaps not really established and respected, bad product performance and so on.
Having to deal everyday with this kind of “not so motivating” environment is quite expensive in terms of efforts and of course proper motivation. The unique way to fight against this is work at the highest level of quality and deliver a best in class service even when is not easy at all. This is the differentiator you must always show to everybody.
Today you are obliged mainly to live our business in this way and, above all, if you want that your company survive for the followings years, you are obliged to increase as much as possible your customer portfolio using a tactic I use to call “tireless”.
For doing this work up to 16 hours per day, trying to maximize my presence in social networks, maintaining up to date my company’s documentation for marketing and going to selected events where you can meet potential customers.
In this way, even I know is really hard, I can assure you that my business is going quite well and customer base is increasing, permitting me to be quite satisfied and happy to look at the future with a positive feeling.
You can ask why we should do this. The reason is quite simple. Customers acting in the way I described before are often unable to face the market in the proper way and sooner or later they will face serious problems. I experienced many cases where companies even closed forever. If you work with such kind of customers is quite sure that unfortunately you are going to lose them.
The market today is requesting high performance (see my previous post), good corporate image, best in class products and services. Competitors are so strong that you can win them only demonstrating that you are really better than them and, as you can see, is not always so easy.