As we approach October we get to make some pretty powerful choices. Do we look at our numbers and make a strong push for the last sixty days of effort and secure a solid finish to the year and a strong beginning to the next; or do we look at those numbers and see that they are better than last years and enjoy the ride and coast to the end of the year?
I face these very challenges each year with clients who have made significant progress the current year and have gone well past their numbers from years prior and even eclipsed their targets for this year, and are looking to “coast” a little bit through the end of the year and start strong for next year. The challenges I have with this are numerous, but it often takes the painful reality of living through these challenges at least once before some learn the lesson.
Yes, you have exceeded your own projections and have well past the numbers you had last year and we still have people in your pipeline with three months to go in the year! I understand that, but here is the flaw in that thinking. We are in a “flow” business. Just like an old fashioned handle well pump where you have to pump and pump the handle repeatedly before you see any result, so is our business cycle. You pump the handle really hard and see no results at first. Then maybe some air, dust, dirt, and then some wet sludge appear. All the time you pump and pump the handle. Finally some dirty water begins to make its way out the spout, followed by some cloudy water and finally at long last some clear, clean, and cold water flows freely from that same spout!
This is exactly the same as our business flow. You work hard to get in front of people and get yourself known. Most people refused to even acknowledge you at first and those that did sent you ever failed client and rejected files. As time goes by and you keep working and providing value and consistency of your efforts, a few deals appear that give you the chance to deliver on your promises. One by one they close and satisfied clients and referral partners begin to refer you in larger and larger numbers, with better and better quality opportunities.
Your perseverance pays off and you have established yourself as a reliable professional and you build a strong image and pipeline throughout the year. The numbers of closing improves and you see all of your targets come into view and you begin to exceed them. The fall comes and the industry begins to take a breath from the long and busy summer. Solid pipelines and back accounts of a job well done allow for the urgency of the basic work fundamentals to wane. Business is still “good enough” and the pipeline still has a good number of deals in process, and a few pre-approvals are showing up here and there. No real urgency to drive more traffic, make those visits, hit the streets and do the ground work.
But just like the water pump, once you stop pumping the water continues to flow for a while. Even if it stops briefly, you can quickly start pumping and get the water flowing again. But there is a fatal flaw. At some point the water doesn’t come back. The once cool, clear flow you worked so hard to generate now is gone! It took some time before you even noticed that it was going. It didn’t just stop completely all at once; but it faded and then failed! And now you must try and repeat the process from scratch again with no guarantee that the flow comes back!
Our business is a process. Our business has a flow and a rhythm to it that can be as painful as it is pleasurable. There is no set timeline for cause and effect. There is no guarantee that your message will be received and reacted too as you had wished. There is also nothing certain that once you are established that the business keeps coming! So don’t back off the pump! The fourth quarter is the time to create new opportunities and relationships. There are many fun things you can do to enjoy yourself while keeping the energy and momentum of your business flow flowing! If you need some thoughts and ideas, just visit “The Coaches Playbook” and look at the module on “Fourth Quarter Strategies” for some thoughts and ideas!
It’s not how you start but how you finish! A strong fourth quarter helps you keep the momentum going and will provide the opportunities and transactions to fill your pipeline going into 2018!
Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com