The Cobbler’s Kids

November 13, 2015

Make sure you are taking advantage of the services you offer.

The cobbler’s kids have no shoes, there are only wooden spoons at the blacksmith’s house, the lady who sells fans only fans herself with her hands — these are just three of many related proverbs. It seems every culture has a proverb (or two) that leads back to the idea that many of us neglect at home what we work on all day long. I was reminded of this three times in the past week. The first was when I was visiting a good friend and saw blue tape over his ice dispenser. I laughed and commented because he owns an appliance repair business and is very good at his work. His wife chimed in that she has to start the washing machine with a pencil because the start button is broken, and it has been for a while. The second reminder occurred when my financial advisor was asking me how much income I’ll need on a monthly basis when I retire and what kind of nest egg I’ll have to have to generate it. When I turned the tables and asked him the same question, he did not have the answers. Last — and most embarrassing — I was giving a seminar on sales cycles, and while I was discussing the importance of understanding your company’s sales cycle and how profitability could be dramatically increased by increasing the number of successful sales or reducing the length of the cycle, I realized that I had never really analyzed my own company’s sales cycle. I left feeling fortunate that no one had turned the tables on me, as I had done with my financial advisor, and determined to rectify what I now saw as a glaring problem. Now, all of these examples (except the icemaker, I really needed ice!) can be explained away by a lack of desire to do at home what one does all day long, or perhaps by some sort of deep-seated rebellion. And, hopefully, they can’t be explained by the fact that the cobbler doesn’t really value shoes, the blacksmith can give or take quality cutlery, and the marketing guy doesn’t truly place value on such things as a sales cycle and its impact on the bottom line. I can’t speak for the cobbler, the appliance repairman or the financial advisor, but in my case, I had simply never thought about applying the concept of a sales cycle to myself. When I think of sales cycles in general, my mind instantly turns to my clients and where, in their sales cycles, my company might be able to help. In the context of giving a seminar, like the one this week, I am focused 100 percent on the client(s) and their needs and not on how the ideas relate to my own company. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of running a company: making sure clients and staff are happy, obligations are being met and futures are being planned, etc. In the end, it is perhaps not that surprising that one’s own house is easily overlooked. However, while that makes it understandable, it doesn’t make it right or even excusable. So, I offer a piece of advice to those taking the time to read this column, especially those in a service business. Make sure that you are taking advantage of the services you offer. As a marketing guy, I can tell you there is no better advertisement for a cobbler than well-shoed children, for a financial planner than a well-designed personal financial plan, and for a company that stresses the value of marketing plans and has an owner who wrote a book on the subject than to actually have a marketing plan. For those who have already taken advantage of their own services, congratulations. For those who haven’t, join me as I spend a few hours analyzing my own company’s sales cycle and place a quick call to my friend to see if the ice dispenser is working yet.