#111: If You Don't Want to Play Small Ball, You Have to Sell
I had a conversation with a friend last week where we were discussing her decision to leave her consulting practice and return to a corporate job. There were many reasons (like how ridiculous it is that no one can afford to buy health insurance outside of a traditional employment arrangement), but one that she mentioned was that she didn't want to play small ball.
It's a fear I share, because I've been running a $20 million dollar-plus company for more than a decade. I don't want to someday decide to leave that business and suddenly find myself bumping along with a business that makes $250,000 a year, and no clear path to scale. (There's absolutely nothing wrong with a $250k business, if that's what you want. Seriously. We all get to decide how and where and what we want to do as entrepreneurs and that's half the fun.)
I have a plan for how I'm going to lift myself beyond that mark, if and when I make the choice to do it, but I talk to so many people in business who want to grow their marketing consultancy or their PR firm or their coaching business beyond where it currently is, or create a business from which they can eventually exit, and they simply don't know how.
Or they do know how, and they don't want to, because the answer is sales. Developing a strong sales function in your company is the only way to scale beyond where you are now. (Seriously. More sales is the only way to grow, folks.) And so many people are squeamish about the idea of doing the business development work needed that they stop themselves before they can even get off the ground.
Therefore, I've made it my life's mission to convince everyone that sales is not gross. It's not something icky that we should shy away from. What's gross and icky is the way sales has been done for (thousands of) years—pushy, aggressive, one-sided, etc.—and that's the reason so many people think of sales as something they'd never want to do.
So, discard the notion of sales as gross, or icky, and get out there to scale your business. If you don't want to play small ball, don't. Sell your way to being a home-run hitter.