Whilst out for a Breath of Fresh Air last week with a new contact who has recently set up her own business we were talking about her plans to find clients.
One comment she made was that she doesn’t want to contact too many people because she is afraid that she will end up with too much work. It is not the first time that I have heard this.
I was thinking of this conversation as I was sowing vegetable seeds in my raised beds at the weekend and yet again I was fascinated by the similarities between gardening and sales and business development.
Having made a small furrow in the earth, I brushed the soil from my hands and read the instructions on the lettuce seed packet. How deep and how far apart should I sow them?
I know that I need to sow considerably more seeds than the number of lettuces I want. They are sown very close together and once the seedlings pop through the soil towards the sunshine, I will remove about two thirds of them (thinning out) to give the others room to grow.
I will water and feed them regularly and remove any weeds that appear so that the weeds don’t smother them or use up the nutrients that the lettuces need, to grow into strong and succulent plants for my salad bowl.
And what about having too many for me to eat? Firstly, if I sow small quantities regularly, they will mature at various intervals and I will have lettuces to pick for many months. Secondly, if I have too many, I can always give some away to family, friends and neighbours.
So what are the lessons for selling?
• For every new client or customer that you want, you will need to contact a lot more targets. You will get to know your conversion ratios over time.
• Understand what each target needs in order to develop into a client – what conditions do they need to grow?
• Be prepared that not all targets will want to work with you and neither will you want to work with them – some will not grow and some you will want to thin out.
• Nurture them over time – depending on what statistics you read it will generally take between 3 and 7 contacts to turn a Business to Business (B2B) target into a client.
• Regular sales and business development activity will mean that you can enjoy a consistent and ongoing harvest.
• If you are worried about having too much work, develop a contingency plan including making links with other people in your line of work who could help you. It is a nice problem to have!