6 invisible problems of success: Why sales funnel overload is a bad thing for your business

A successful business is good… unless the business becomes too successful too quickly. When success strikes suddenly, 6 difficult-to-see problems threaten to destroy your business. Here are the 6 problems that you’ll never see sneaking up on you:

You sell less per person

As the number of contacts in your sales funnel increases, your ability to focus on the relationship with each individual diminishes. Therefore, the percentage of contacts who move from one stage to the next decreases. It’s an invisible problem because you have more people going through your sales funnel so it’s hard to notice that you’re actually doing more work with less success. It’s a serious problem: It impacts your cost structure and you end up spending more time and money per person (when, in fact, your goal should be to spend less per person).

You are forced to spend more on gap filling

In an emergency, priorities change. Last year, when a freak rainstorm flooded my basement, I was willing to pay a considerable amount of money to clean it up — far more than I would normally want to pay in a non-flood situation. Likewise, when the “emergency” is a greater-than-predicted onslaught of sales funnel contacts, you’ll spend whatever is necessary to keep things going, even if it costs considerably more. Some examples include overtime for staff, making more resources and bandwidth available, and rapidly scaling up infrastructure. This is an invisible problem because you don’t always realize that you are reacting. It seems like you’re addressing the need. However, when the dust settles, and your sales funnel returns to normal, you’ll end up with a large bill and plenty of unnecessary infrastructure that you’ll have to support.

You run out of inventory

If you sell products, your inventory is physical stock. If you sell services, your inventory is time (and sometimes information or ability or inspiration). When the number of contacts in your sales funnel increases predictably, you can increase your inventory predictably. However, if your sales funnel increase is sudden, you might not have time to increase your inventory accordingly, and you’ll burn through any excess stock quickly. This is an invisible problem because, on the one hand, it is good to clear out your inventory. But unless you can increase your inventory to the right amount, you’ll end up turning away people who want to buy from you… and this problem can plague you for a while to come as you play “catch-up”.

You’ll lose track of the pulse of your business

Successful people know what is going on in their business at all times. If there’s a small blip in one area of the business, they can focus in on it and fix it. They handle challenges while they’re small, BEFORE they become problems. However, when you’re run off of your feet from a flood of sales, you are no longer fully aware of what’s going on in your business. This may not seem like a big problem, since you’ve always had a handle on your business before, and since this onslaught is probably a temporary bonus. However, the sudden rise in sales can mask the seriousness of the problem: When you’re not aware of your business, you’re not in control of your business. Risks increase while productivity and profitability decrease.

No evangelists

As your business increases — and your busy-ness increases! — it’s easy to ignore the post-sale relationship. After all, you’re so busy dealing with the current situation. That might seem to be an acceptable solution now but it’s a serious invisible problem because it will have a costly effect in the future: You have to work harder for each new Audience member and Lead, so each sale becomes less profitable.

You don’t build for the future; you only react to the present

Scaling a business intelligently is key. You need to make sure that your business grows at the right speed — a slow-to-moderate growth that is manageable. You can build for the future by creating new products, trying out new marketing methods, exploring new partnering relationships. But when you’re overloaded, you end up ignoring these things just to keep your head above water. For a very short term, that might seem like the right decision. However, it’s an invisible problem because it hurts your long-term business: You end up “treadmilling” through the same products to the same people at the same price. There’s no growth because you don’t have time to move your business forward.

These 6 invisible problems of success are serious. They don’t just bruise your business in the short term. Rather, they can permanently harm (or even destroy) your business by keeping your focus on the immediate problem rather than the future opportunity.

Click back here tomorrow and I’ll you how to avoid these problems.

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