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The Green Sheet Online Edition

February 22, 2016 • Issue 16:02:02


Sales gardening 101

People have used gardening in a metaphorical sense for a long time. Eighteenth century French philosopher and satirist Voltaire once wrote, "Life is bristling with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one's garden."

In As a Man Thinketh, published at the turn of the 20th century, James Allen wrote, "A man's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind."

More recently, sales trainers and business coaches have likened tending a garden to caring for clients and prospects. In The Perfect Business, Michael LeBoeuf wrote, "Business isn't hunting, it's gardening." He suggested business leaders focus on "cultivating the relationships and forming the type of work habits that lead to long-term success."

Tending your crop

And in Good Selling!: The Basics, Paul H. Green titled one chapter section "Tend to Your Sales Garden." Green wrote, "With any garden or project you need a plan of desired results, a decision on which seeds to plant and where. Without a plan and the decision to carry it through, your garden will languish, and only the weeds will flourish. Without a sales plan, the weeds of negative thinking and laziness will overtake your garden of prospects."

Green said merchant level salespeople are planting knowledge in their gardens of sales, and they are harvesting sales that result in ongoing residuals. "By planting new positive sales skills and ideas and tending your garden daily through positive self-talk and productive discipline, you will keep the weeds of negative thinking and laziness at bay," he stated.

He also detailed a four-step, two-week plan designed to lead to short-term results and long-term rewards. Here's the plan:

  1. Make 10 percent more calls per day.
  2. Ask for the sale 10 percent more often.
  3. Get up for work 10 minutes earlier each day. Spend this time on self-improvement, tending your garden of sales knowledge and skills.
  4. Give 10 sincere compliments to your prospects each week (two compliments per day).

It's only a 14-day commitment. Why not give it a try? The repetition of 10 makes the steps catchier, but if different percentages for calls and asks make more sense for your business, or if you'd rather get up 15 minutes earlier each day instead of 10 and give 20 compliments weekly instead of 10, of course, adjust your plan as you see fit. But as you work your plan, remember your current customer base, too.

"Like a few plant varieties, such as zucchini, some customers will never need more than the basics in service," wrote business coach Michael Virardi in a blog post. "However, keep this in mind: Even the healthiest plants need to be watered and weeded every so often in order to thrive. Make sure that you sometimes reward your best customers in order to make sure that they keep coming back. Your extra efforts will pay off like a prize-winning giant tomato." end of article

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