This is one of my all-time favorites. I actually hear this about 75%+ of the time when discussing a sales program with a company CEO. I am getting good at predicting when they will toss out that gem in our first conversation. Of course, this cannot be farther from the truth in every one of my interactions. Nothing ever simply was created and sold itself and people made a profitable company out of the gate.
Our organization deals with companies who are expanding market or new to market. In learning about their plans, I actually ask them how this statement can be accurate. And if this were true, why are they even discussing a sales program? I understand the genesis of this statement. The CEO/ Founder – has been living this dream for a long time. In some cases, years. They have suffered through trials, errors, loss, mental anguish, and rejection. Now, they believe they perfected the craft of their mission. Their product / service through this process, has faced the fires and is ready for consumption. I get it, I believe they believe this and yet they have not even begun the difficult journey to steady revenue growth.
In September we were discussing a sales program with a two year old International company with plans to expand into the US. The CEO claimed, “Eli, it is really this simple, every time I give a demo, I have a buyer!” He was amped up and brimming with excitement. Then, I asked “This is amazing news, what a great story .. how many customers do you have on board using the system today?” and he replied, “well we have 2 paying customers and 8 ready to purchase”. Yup, that absolutely sells itself.
Not his fault, think about it. He has gone two years, finally has 2 sort of paying customers and several more have accepted price quotes. I am on his side here, I believe what he believes. The product did sell itself. But that is not the real question. The question they really should be asking is, “what is the plan to sustain this beginning and build momentum?” Because once that early sales cycle is exhausted – the revenue counted – a definitive focused and determined team needs to be in place to track down prospects and build real sustainable pipeline.