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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

(SALES) Have Your Most Productive Year Ever

My Dad grew up on a farm in Lipton, Saskatchewan. Current population 372. He grew up with seven brothers and the family business was farming. Farming is not an easy life. There is always something to be done.
Some of my greatest childhood memories were spending time on the farm. Driving huge tractors, cultivating soil, planting seeds, and milking cows.
Here are some of the lessons I learned:
? You have to cultivate and prepare the soil before you plant the seeds.
?    You have to plant the seeds if you want anything to grow.
?    You have to nurture and take care of the seeds in order to get the best crop.
?    You can?t ?hurry? nature. When the crop is ready, it?s ready. You have to be patient.
?    You have to harvest when the crop is ready.
?    As soon as the crop is harvested you start preparing the soil again for the next crop.
There is a repeatable process with farming. Sure technological advances have given my cousins the ability to farm thousands of acres instead of hundreds, but the basic principles remain the same.
In sales there are two prevailing philosophies: hunting and farming. I?ve heard sales companies recruit for sellers asking, ?Are you a hunter??
Hunting is a great sport. You enjoy nature, you stalk your prey, and then you kill. I?ve always wrestled with the sales philosophy that was built on stalking and killing. My hunting friends frequently come home disappointed. Despite having the latest equipment they spend hours in the woods and come back empty-handed. There are no guarantees when you hunt.
Farmers win when they grow their crops. Farmers can have confidence that if they take the steps I?ve outlined above -- barring natural disasters or a weather crisis -- they will be harvesting a crop. A hunter can do all the right things and still not get anything. . . not so in farming. Farmers grow; hunters kill. For me the choice is obvious.
Sales, like farming, is a repeatable process of events, timing, and patience. Some of the events are within your control and some, like weather in farming, are completely out of your control. If you effectively follow and implement the steps in the proper order and sequence, you have the expectation of being able to harvest your crop or grow your business.
In sales the general steps are:
? Identify a prospect.
? Develop a relationship.
? Identify a need.
? Create a solution.
? Implement the solution.
? Repeat.
Admittedly that?s a gross oversimplification of the sale process. In fact, at Sparque have a tool we call The 10 Most Wanted
list. This tool takes you on a journey through 16 potential steps in the selling process with 10 prospects. We provide much greater detail than the six steps I?ve outlined above.
In farming there are clearly defined ?seasons? based on the calendar and the weather. For salespeople, the sales cycle is the growing season. If the salesperson plants enough seeds and plans for possible damage, she can harvest a good crop. In retail, or many business-to-business sales, the ?harvest time? was the holidays. The few weeks after the holidays are a great time to be preparing:  pulling weeds (dead accounts), planting seeds (prospecting), and preparing the soil (researching your prospects).
Do you have your plan in place for 2015? Have you begun to take the steps necessary to have your best crop ever? The news about the economy is better than it has been in a long time. Gas prices are the lowest they?ve been in years. Unemployment is near record lows, and interest rates remain low. It would appear that the ?uncontrollable? conditions are perfect for having a great year.
If you want to use the farming model for sales, you need to focus on two main things: (1) The number of qualified prospects in your sales funnel, and (2) their status in the funnel. In other words, how many seeds in the ground, and how are they growing?
The good news about sales is that the ?growing season? isn?t defined by the calendar or the weather. If you find yourself with too few prospects, you can always add more. If the prospects in your funnel aren?t growing fast enough, you can create strategies to move them closer to buying, or weed them out.
The steps to being successful in sales and in farming are predictable and repeatable. Send me an email and I?m happy to share the 10 Most Wanted
list so you can begin the journey of having your most productive and fruitful year ever.
Jeff Schmidt is EVP and Partner at Sparque, Inc. You can reach Jeff at
Twitter: @JeffreyASchmidt
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