Too many customers

Last week I had a nice lunch with a client of mine. He told me that the Metaalunie is one of the largest SME trade associations with more than 15,000 companies, all in our industry.

Just to fact-check and quote from their site:

Koninklijke Metaalunie is the entrepreneurial organization for the SME metal industry. Its more than 15,000 members realize a combined turnover of 30 billion and it employs a total of 180,000 people.

Of course, that’s pretty impressive, especially considering how important our industry is in the Netherlands.

But what do most of these companies have in common?

They are all busy!

Most metalworkers have no trouble finding work. When you step into such a company, you will not find anyone standing with a broom in hand waiting for the phone to ring for a job.

Nor is the problem the lack of the number of customers. Many family businesses have order books with sometimes more than 100 customers (at the same time).

How is it that some do not advance or even go bankrupt?

I think the problem is quality, not quantity.

Sometimes we compensate for the quality of our clients by adding more of it, but we know that many small, inexperienced, unprofessional or otherwise unfit clients are no substitute or repair for having the right type and size of client.

The point is:

If you find yourself reaching a plateau, a kind of glass ceiling, then more clients is often not the right answer.

It is better to go for projects in which your company excels. But to do that, you have to make room by selling “NO” to those who don’t fit in here. And that really is totally fine!

Here’s a question to ponder:

Suppose you could double the sales of your top 20 customers. What does that mean for the level of stress, risk of errors and unnecessary extra meetings? And what does that mean for what you are left with at the bottom?

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