Sales had deteriorated; anticipated new business had not materialized and vendors were calling.  Payroll was due that day and very little money existed to pay the firm’s staff.  As a consultant, I was frankly scared for my client and his employees.  The business situation had been shared with the key staff and yet, no one was working “new business”.  No phone calls were being made although each staff member had been given a short list of prospective clients to call and pursue. 

I have found that working new business is the black sheep in a service-oriented business.  This involves uncovering opportunities and then winning over the relationship.  It often does not happen unless the owner(s) or a new business person solicit new relationships.  Seeking new business is foreign to them;  they believe they shouldn’t have to do it.  I have seen many service-oriented businesses fail because the sales pipeline dried up; and, it’s normally because it was not a priority.

During the years that I worked in large corporations, there were healthy budget allocations for research and development and, also, for sales and marketing.  Management realized that cutting edge product development and a serious investment in sales and marketing were critical to business growth.  It is also true for small relationship-based companies; and, the owner(s) rarely invest in business development.  I am often amused when companies buy software like Salesforce but don’t have anyone trained to implement or maintain it.  And, often, I have seen companies invest in lead generation and end up with hundreds of new business leads but the leads sit on someone’s desk and the phone call, the letter, the email to create dialogue never happens. 

I once joked with a client who was suffering from business loss without an active sales pipeline and I said, “what are you waiting for…..a miracle phone call”?

In other situations, management insists that they are going to divide the leads among themselves and hold each other accountable for making calls.   Bah…humbug….that doesn’t happen either.  One of the most revealing insights I have learned in working with entrepreneurs is that they cannot hold their employees accountable because they have not followed through with their own accountability.

If you need help reviewing your new business process and making it the priority it deserves, let’s have coffee.