Do you have feast and famine months in your small business?
Times when you’re so busy you don’t know where to turn and then times when it’s so quiet that you’re desperately willing the phone to ring with a new customer?
Avoiding the feast and famine cycle is one of the hardest parts of small business sales and one of the key early focuses of my small business coaching.
It’s hard because in the famine times:
- you’ll be frustrated at the lack of activity
- you’ll be stressed about maintaining cash flow
- you’ll doubt your ability and business idea
- you’ll waste money with knee jerk advertising
But I’ve got some good news for you.
I’m going to show you exactly why the feast and famine cycle occurs and how to rid your business of it forever.
Building a Sales Pipeline
The key to ending the feast and famine cycle is to build a sales pipeline.
Like the pipeline that comes into your house to carry water.
If your water supplier has a problem, and the water stops flowing through the pipe, your supply dries up and nothing happens when you turn the tap.
That’s the feast and famine cycle in a nutshell.
You have to ensure that you feed your sales pipeline with a constant flow of new opportunities.
The more opportunities you have coming into your sales pipeline, the lower the risk of famine.
How to Find New Opportunities
I suggest that you pick five small business marketing activities that you focus on every day to pro-actively add opportunities to your sales pipeline.
Such as building a blog for of compelling relevant content, connecting with people who could use your services via LinkedIn, using small business email marketing visiting local business in your town or city to start relationships. The list is endless, hence why you need to focus.
It’s not a magic number but if you do less than five you risk not having enough new opportunities coming into the sales pipeline, and if you do more you risk getting overwhelmed and not doing your best at any.
Building a Small Business Marketing Mix that Works
Consider these three questions to help you pick your five focused small business marketing activities:
1. What’s already working?
How did you find your current or past customers? Take a look at all of your current and past customers and review how you found them. Review any activities that worked for you previously, has anything changed, have you stopped doing something? Can you make that activity work for you again?
2. What can you start today?
Don’t pick things that will take a long of time to get started.
If you’re already in famine you need to get opportunities into your sales pipeline quickly, don’t wait two months to get your website redesigned or to go on a course about how to use Twitter for business.
Focus on things you can start today, when you have opportunities in your sales pipeline you can easily review the results of your marketing mix and decide if you should add something that will help you build for the future.
3. What do you enjoy?
It’s no good having an activity in your small business marketing mix that you don’t enjoy, you’ll put off doing it and hate every moment of it. That isn’t the best way to build your sales pipeline.
Focus on marketing activities that you are willing to commit to 100%, that you’ll be motivated to spend enough time on to get results.
Don’t Copy Your Competitors
Notice that I didn’t say “look at what your competitors are doing”. That’s because you need to stand out from your competitors and pick five methods that you are happy with.
It doesn’t matter what your competitors are doing – build a small business marketing mix that you enjoy and that will work for you.
Get Help to Fill Your Sales Pipeline
You don’t have to fill your sales pipeline on your own.
It’s good to have five focus small business marketing activities for continually adding new opportunities to your pipeline, but you can get other people to help you – more hands to the pump as the saying goes.
Remember to ask past customers, colleagues, friends and family if they know anyone who could use your products and services or if they have requirements themselves – you’re looking for new opportunities, not always just new customers.
One of the reasons you should build customer relationships is that customers who are willing to be advocates for your business can spread the word and help build your sales pipeline.
Never Turn off the Supply
The two dangers with the feast and famine cycle are that you are not proactive enough to constantly fill the sales pipeline and that when you get too busy you stop.
If you stop adding to the pipeline the supply will go dry, contacts will go cold and sooner or later you’ll be in famine.
Always ensure that you keep adding to the sales pipeline. Find ways to be more efficient with your small business marketing when you’re busy but never stop your focus activities, the more opportunities you have in your pipeline the better.
To end the feast and famine cycle in your small business you need to be constantly proactive, focus on a small number of marketing activities and never stop filling your sales pipeline with fresh opportunities.
Have you experienced the feast and famine in your own small business? Please leave a comment and let me know how you’ve coped with it.