An entrepreneur had developed a product, and he was doing incredibly well. He was able to afford a great house and employ his entire family, all at very healthy salaries. His business was doing so well for two reasons. First, his was the only product like it in the field, and second, he kept his cost of manufacturing very low.
In the last two years, however, everything changed. His revenues took a nose dive, and it was all because competitors came into the market offering updated products at much better prices.
Similarly, another entrepreneur’s operation had been going very well until about five years ago when his sales began to level out. Though the business had few employees, it had done very well with its small number of customers up until this point. But when the market began expanding, he was not getting his fair share.
In both of these cases, the owners had become complacent. They were satisfied with their existing sales and decided not to invest in marketing, because things were going so well that they thought nothing would stop their upward trend. Unfortunately, however, something did stop it. They stopped making an effort to grow sales and monitor what competitors were doing in the market.
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Every organization should monitor both their current sales levels and their pipeline for future sales
The lesson we learn from these businesses is that every organization should monitor both their current sales levels and their pipeline for future sales. When I asked these entrepreneurs about their pipeline, both gave me that funny look that told me they did not have a clue.
The outlook for both of these firms is questionable, but they may still turn it around if they can develop a system that allows them to get a handle on their potential sales. There are tons of programs out there to help with this. I found many options by just Googling “programs to manage sales pipeline.”
It is too early to tell if these firms will be able to pull out of their sales slump. Their decline did not happen overnight, and it will take years to turn the businesses around. What disturbs me the most about these cases is that I am not sure the owners are willing to change. They are both convinced they are doing all they can to fix their problems. I really hope they can make the necessary changes before the end.
Now go out and make sure you have a process in place that allows you to evaluate your pipeline of potential sales. This is really going to make a difference in your business.
You can do this!
Jerry Osteryoung, a business consultant and Jim Moran professor of entrepreneurship (emeritus) and professor of finance (emeritus) at Florida State University, can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.