How would you answer an aspiring salesperson who asks — “How long does a typical sale take from start to finish?” I thought about this answer and realized Mother Nature has answered this question since time began. Selling is like planting seeds so we can reap the fruit of our efforts. We just have to know where and when to plant the right seeds and how often to water them to get good results.
Mother Nature and Selling
The world has different types of climates, soils, plants and trees which are like selling to different types of businesses and customers. I can see a clear example in my back yard where four years ago we planted a tree. The tree we planted has only grown three feet and has not created the shade we wanted for the area. It apparently wasn’t a good match for the soil or our climate. However, a small tree sprouting on its own, a few feet from the planted tree has reached the height of the tree we planted. One started from a seed and the other had a five foot head start.
Each tree has the same watering schedule, soil and climate, so what is the difference? The difference is the application of the seed. If we performed better research before selecting a tree, we would have learned that our selection was NOT suited for our climate. We should have planted a shade tree that thrives in our climate and grows at a rapid rate. Our mistake was corrected by Mother Nature. If we were a business, and Mother Nature was the competition, you can clearly understand the advantage of experience.
What would happen if we applied Mother Nature’s s selection process to customers with the seeds of opportunity? We would certainly get better results and could blow away the competition! It just takes is a little research to determine which customers are better suited for our products or services and plant the right seeds. When we focus our efforts on planting the right seeds with the right customers, we will grow our business faster.
A Plan for Stubborn Customers
Mother Nature has a plan for even the most stubborn customers on the planet. Take for example a granite rock. You would think that nothing could grow in a rock, right? Well, think again. The Sierra Juniper is a tree that Mother Nature created which will grow into a rock. Yes, into a solid rock high in the Sierra Mountains. The process could have started with a bird dropping a seed. The seed finds a crack in the rock and begins its germination. The snow provides the moisture as the sun creates the warmth. The roots follow the crack and get nourishment from the rock as it attaches itself permanently through each season. As each season passes the tree develops and becomes stronger and larger.
Mother Nature and the Selling Process
If you ask Mother Nature, how long does it take for a seed to germinate? The answer is — it depends on the seed, the soil and the watering schedule. If we plant the right seeds, in the right soil, we can improve our success. As salespeople, planting the right seeds of opportunity in the best soil and the right nourishment cycle is our job. The salesperson must understand which seeds are the right ones to plant with each customer. He/she must also stay in contact with them like a drip system to nourish the account. If you are in sales, this sounds like the selling process doesn’t it –it is!
One of the first steps in the selling process is determining if we have an opportunity for a sale. If we don’t’ have an opportunity, or the soil is poor, we should move to a more appropriate prospect. However, the seed we are considering might not be the right one. Another seed might be better suited for this prospect. If this is the case, try another seed like another service or product that is better suited. A successful salesperson will learn from their experience and take good notes to enhance future selling opportunities. As your selling experience develops you will learn which seeds of opportunity fit the right customer profiles. This wisdom is the experience a great salesperson uses like Mother Nature uses to select which seeds to plant and where to plant them.
The selling process has an account development aspect just like Mother Nature. When it comes to a nurturing plan, Mother Nature is very consistent with rain, snow and sunshine. If a business is to take lessons from Mother Nature, a business must have a plan of maintaining regular contact with profitable contacts. These contact actions are telephone calls, letters, notes and emails that remind the prospect of our product or service. These actions nourish the account until it is ready to purchase from us. In Mother Nature’s example, the Sierra Juniper is nurtured by melting snow and warm sunshine in the toughest climate until it is ready to blossom.
If we go back to the original question of how long does a sale take, the answer depends on the opportunity. If we plant the right seeds in the right accounts, we will achieve success faster. If we don’t do research and understand our opportunities, sales will take longer. The more consistent we are in our efforts to nurture our accounts and plant the right seeds of opportunity, the more successful we will become.