As a result of providing marketing consulting, training and
coaching to a variety of individuals and industries over the
years, I have come to recognize that people generally
approach the business building process in one of two ways.
Everyone tends to be what I identify as either Cultivators
or Harvesters. The problem is the business building process
requires both cultivation and harvesting. Read on to
determine which you are and how to assure that you are both
cultivating and harvesting new business.
Harvesters are the great sales people of the world. These
are the people that don't mind, may even enjoy, spending two
or three hours a day cold calling. They willingly spend a
day starting at the first floor of an office building and
visiting every office on every floor to try and get an
appointment. Harvesters will close business. However, they
also tend to leave a lot of green fruit on the tree because
their approach is geared towards those individuals who have
a need now and are willing and able to purchase ? the so
called low hanging fruit. Harvesters tend to move from
orchard to orchard seeking out and picking whatever fruit is
ripe at the time. They are constantly seeking out a new
orchard that might have ripe fruit.
Cultivators tend to rely on the other elements of the
promotional mix such as advertising, direct mail, networking
and public relations activities to develop business.
Cultivators prepare the soil, plant the seeds, nurture the
seedlings, and provide care to the fruit as it ripens. They
grow their own orchards so they have an ongoing supply of
ripe fruit. However, Cultivators sometimes are so busy
tending to the orchard that they forget to pick the fruit,
leaving it either for the Harvesters as they make their
daily rounds or to rot on the tree.
Clearly, in an ideal world the Cultivators and the
Harvesters would work together to assure a constant supply
of ripe fruit and to be sure that the ripe fruit is picked
daily before a competitor picks it or it spoils. That is why
in large corporations you will find both a marketing
function and a sales function. However, most small
businesses don't have the luxury of two separate functions.
Many small business owners have to both cultivate and
harvest new business as well as oversee or even implement
the myriad of other functions required to keep a business
The purchase decision involves a process of moving from
unawareness to awareness, awareness to preference or liking
and finally to conviction and purchase. Promotional
activities such as advertising and direct mail are most
effective in the awareness building stage. Public relations
activities and networking tend to be most powerful in the
preference and liking stage. Direct selling tends to be the
activity that actually closes sales.
Blair Singer in his book Sales Dogs says "The more marketing
you do, the less selling effort you have to deal with.
Prospects put up their hands and come looking for you
instead of your having to sniff them out. It's the art of
having sales opportunities come to you" In effect what he is
saying is the more effort you put into cultivating your
orchard, the less time you have to spend out looking for
fruit in other people's orchards. The challenge for
Cultivators is to make sure they call on the prospect once
they've raised their hand.
If you're a Harvester how can you develop cultivation
? Implement activities to develop awareness that
allow you to reach many potential customers in less time
than it would take you to reach each one individually.
. For example send out a predetermined number of letters
each week to prospective customers you have not met and
that may not yet be aware of your product or service.
? Develop systematic ways to stay in contact with
prospects that are not currently ready to purchase such
as a regular newsletter.
? Develop credibility through active involvement or
a leadership role in a trade association or organization
that your potential customers are involved in.
If you are a Cultivator how can you assure you are
harvesting the rewards of your work?
? Initiate one-on-one follow-up when someone
expresses interest. Don't expect even very interested
people to follow-up with you.
? Don't approach the initial meeting as a "sales"
meeting. Rather than trying to sell, use the initial meeting
as an opportunity to really learn about the prospects, their
problems and their needs.
? Learn to love objections. If someone has an objection
to your product or service at least they have an interest.
An objection is easier to deal with than a lack of interest
? Rethink your attitude toward closing a sale. Think
of it as gaining commitment for an action.
If you are a Cultivator, the harvest will never be your
favorite time of the growing season. If you are a Harvester
you will never relish the work it takes to grow and ripen
the fruit. However, successfully building new business
? 2003 STRATEGIES-BY-DESIGN May be reprinted with credits
and contact information.
Julie Chance is president of Strategies-by-Design, a
Dallas-based marketing consulting firm specializing in
marketing programs including marketing coaching for
professional service providers and specialty retailers. If
you are interested in additional information about how to
develop more leads, turn those leads into loyal customers,
and obtain a greater return from your marketing investment,
Julie invites you to sign-up for their free marketing tips
newsletter at http://www.strategies-by-design.com.