If you’ve been around long enough it’s bound to happen: Slips & rejections.
Just when we were putting together a world class 1st quarter we had four large deals slip out of March and into next month–which happens to be the start of the 2nd quarter. If that wasn’t sobering enough, I was rebuffed by a prospect I tried to hire to be our new Director of Product Development. From hero to zero in less than 10 days.
It’s no surprise 3 of the 4 deals that moved were with new resellers in different parts of the world… one in China… one in Dubai… and one in Mexico. One of the downsides of the early stages of building a sales channel is the uncertainty in forecasting deals with new partners. Your relationship is not yet fully established so they’re not as likely to be forthcoming with information. And language barriers only make it more complicated. But this is why I make it a practice, whenever possible, to bring a deal to them from our own inbound marketing efforts… there’s nothing like an unexpected deal from a new partner to close the relationship gap in a hurry.
On the positive side we wound up with a surprise supplemental order from our partner SAIC – where we’re part of a major Polycom deployment with NATO. Yes, THAT NATO. So, when our allies schedule their video conferences myVRM will be driving the peace process! And, lastly, I was introduced to a great company in North Dakota by a regional Cisco sales rep who found us via a Google search. How cool is that? (I always point out the “positives” after a tough stretch to keep me balanced).
The biggest downside of delayed contracts is the effect it has on cash flow. Sure, we’ll close these deals next quarter, but that puts pressure on our “in-bound” cash. And we want to avoid jamming all of our growth into 4Q13 because (1) it’ll put a serious burden on fulfillment, (2) force us to delay hiring staff earlier in the year, delaying their assimilation, and (3) the increased pressure wreaks havoc on staff as they press harder to hit goals.
I’m always amazed at how crazy and uneven it is to grow an SBE. Some weeks are great. Some awful. I have to remind myself: don’t let the highs reset your expectations; don’t let the lows drag you into the mud. Just Crazy.
Fun news… Did you see the episode of Shark Tank when Mark Cuban invested in the guy who drew personalized cats for people? No kidding. His name is Steve (Twitter: @CatDrawingGuy). He followed me on Twitter today. I got such a kick out of it… Here’s our exchange:
Running an SBE is like feeding a toddler… it’s only a matter of time before it gets real messy. Partner up!