Two weeks ago I spent the weekend planting some grass seed in some bare spots in my lawn. The bare spots were a result of my successful anti-weed campaign last year, so this being spring time I spent the time to plant some grass seed in those bare spots. I faithfully read the directions and followed them exactly, preparing the soil, and planting the seed. After that my only job was to water my seed. However not an hour after completing all of the work, my neighbor came over and said things like, “I think you are supposed to do it this way.” His suggestions and input immediately cast doubt on everything I had done and I began to worry about whether or not I had done the planting properly. I had to go back and re-read the directions and arrive at all my conclusions all over again. I even got onto the internet and read up on some of the lawn care sites to reassure myself I had done things properly.
Days went by and nothing happened. I faithfully watered the seed every day, but each day I struggled with the doubt and anxiety of whether or not I had done it properly. After a week I thought for sure all my work had been in vain and I needed to start over. I was tempted to go out several times and rake the soil and replant. Day seven brought a few sparse, incredibly small sprouts. “That’s it,” I thought. “That’s all I am going to get.” I was sure I had done it wrong. Too much water, not enough water, or I planted it incorrectly. However, I resolved yet again to wait and see and to continue watering.
Day nine brought hundreds of sprouts. Glorious sprouts. Bright and healthy green, they were pushing up through the soil. There was much rejoicing throughout the land (my front porch). Later as I was contemplating my experience, I realized that people can be this way while they are prospecting for new business. At Diverse CTI, our process of prospecting is all about growing relationships. We do not “hunt” for customers. We are farmers. We have learned to grow relationships with people until they are ready to buy on their own time.
For new “farmers” this can be very frustrating at times because it is easy to lose patience with the process. Doubt and worry begin to creep in and make us think that it isn’t working. Our false instinct can cause us to revert back to “hunting”. Although this can be successful, in the end, it only leads to a win-lose relationship. You have beaten the customer into buying and have “won” the deal, but you have lost the trust and long-term relationship that would have grown over time yielding far more than one deal.
For you sales people out there I encourage you to become farmers! What a reward it is to grow partnerships with people rather than hunt them. Learn to be good waterer’s, do not grow weary or lose heart. The results certainly take longer and far more patience is required, but the results are lasting and yield many times over.
- Take time to sharpen the saw by honing your relationship building skills. Read books that strengthen your “empathy bone” so to speak.
- Make sure that you are feeling what your customer is going through and respond in a real way, avoiding the scripted responses to objections and concerns.
- Finally, do things every so often that remind them of you without constantly asking them if they are ready to buy. Form broad relationships with people, instead of narrow constricting ones that only allow you to talk about whether or not they are going to buy something or not.