I published a new blog Tuesday the 16th of November that related to service-oriented owner(s) and key staff members failing to maintain a sales pipeline.  I specifically pointed out that database management, new business solicitation, email programs, social networking and phone calls were not part of some company’s ongoing business practices.

My friend and associate reminded me of the story that he had told me many times:  “Never try to teach a duck to sing.  It’s a waste of your time and it annoys the duck!”  His email quote back to me was:  “Tom, we’ve had this conversation many times, you know not to expect creative people to spend time pursuing new business:  they are devoted to their craft, not selling their services.  So, selling their services is a foreign thing they don’t do very well, don’t like to do and it diverts them from what they like and are good at…that’s where they are happy.  that’s what they live for.  Making sales calls are so distasteful, most would rather go out of business rather than have to do it.  It takes a special mindset and a special person to be able to sell themselves or their services; and, oddly that is rarely a creative person.  Strange, isn’t it, Tom?”

I would say to my friend:  “a business cannot survive if ownership only does what ownership wants to do or feels comfortable doing.   Creating and managing a company’s sales pipeline is critical to a company’s success.  There are a set of business practices that have to be managed, either by the owner or delegated by the owner to someone on their staff or contracted to someone.    Very few people in a service-oriented business can depend on referrals to generate enough new business to sustain their company; or, grow their company.   I am reminded of a comment by another friend:  “Acquiring a new client is a temporal moment:  they will leave someday”. 

For my clients, I always study the composition of their client base:  the 80/20 rule as well as the amount of billings each client contributes.  Bankers know this drill well.  One should not have a client represent more than 5% to 8% of your billings; even at those levels, a company is at risk.

I once joked with a client that “service-oriented companies are always one client short”.  They laughed and said, “and…with one less client…they would be out of business”.  Our conversation continued as they remembered when they last acquired a new client…only when they had lost a client….. They, then said, “hmmmm….maybe we should look at that”.

I would be glad to help you “look at that”.