Break the Minnow Mindset
Bonnie Marcus of Women’s Success Coaching interviewed me for her podcast last week. I mention this only because Bonnie calls her podcast a “bragcast.” She is driving home a point: that women often do not assertively claim credit for our accomplishments. One of Bonnie’s chief goals as a success coach for women is to encourage and empower us to talk about our achievements in a positive way. [p.s. It is fun to record a bragcast with Bonnie Marcus!]
This experience reminded me of an incident with my son Brad when he was a kid, a story, which I think illustrates Bonnie’s take.
When my son Brad was in kindergarten, his teacher left the room briefly one afternoon. While she was gone, a couple of sixth graders stopped into the kindergarten room and teased the children. Brad came home in tears.
“I’m never going to sixth grade!” he cried.
“Why not?” I asked him.
“Because they’re so big!”
Brad suddenly had a terrifying vision of his future: one little five-year-old in a classroom of big, scary sixth graders! He didn’t understand that all of the little kids would grow up together and become the sixth grade meanies!
I have often found a similar type of misunderstanding among business owners. It’s a mindset that makes you feel small even as your customers and competitors have grown bigger and meaner. We hear you express this fear as a refusal to turn down business that is no longer essential, profitable, or suitable for the company you are becoming. You have grown as big and as important as all the other sixth graders, but your self-perception hasn’t grown alongside your business.
Here are some give-away comments:
- “It’s not a great deal for us, but the customer is prestigious.”
- “This customer may be too small for us today, but we’d better take them because they might get big later.”
- “We can’t turn down this deal; the customer is influential in our marketplace.”
- “We’ve built this business on doing the things that bigger companies turn down!”
How do you break the minnow mindset?
The consequences of this misunderstanding can be deadly to your business. Instead of doing bigger deals, better deals, and more profitable deals to feed your growth, you run the risk of devoting too much attention and too many resources to a growing number of accounts that are too small for you.
My key recommendations:
- Outsource smaller accounts to a strategic partner
- Develop your target filter for new customers in terms of criteria that will feed your growth
- Measure and re-assess how your business makes money, and become single-minded in pursuing those methods
- Map your sales processes to meet your criteria for bigger sales to bigger customers
- Manage your sales organization to achieve your goals for business development and growth
All of these ideas require that you cast aside the minnow mindset. Can you? If you have an example to share, we would love to hear it!