“Sowing the Seeds of Love”
By John Kennedy
Years ago, I had the chance to speak at the ANLA Management Clinic in Louisville, Kentucky. As was always the case, it was a wonderful gathering of industry folks looking to get the next great ideas to build their business and grow their profits.
The best ideas were always found at either “Muggets” over a cold beverage or at the “Swap Shop” where great minds offered ideas that worked for them, and were willing to share with others (one thing I love about the green industry is a willingness to openly share ideas to help each other).
One of the presenters at this event spoke about a concept called “Watering the Bamboo”…some of you may remember it. The concept was fairly simple - yet profound.
There is a type of bamboo in the Amazon that grows at an unbelievable pace (roughly 90 feet in 60 days). That kind of growth could kill a business, but it is one we would all love to have as a problem, right?
Well the story is a little more complicated than that. The first year you plant the seed (six feet into the soil) and you water the area often… and nothing happens.
The second year you water the area often, and guess what?…nothing happens. This is where most folks would give up and call it a waste of time. “That’s a lot of water”, “nothing is happening”, “I can’t wait for results to happen over time, I need them now”, blah, blah, blah!! And most would, by the power of impatience, lose out on the opportunity.
It’s not until the third year that the tremendous growth occurs—90 feet in 60 days!!
Out of ten folks who planted the seed and began the process, only one of them stuck with the plan and saw it as an “investment” of time, and not a “waste.”
Last year, I challenged one of my favorite clients, Manor View Farm in Monkton, Maryland to add new clients to their list of customers (actually the challenge came from within by the employees who knew “you can’t squeeze more juice out of the same oranges”…at some point you need to go out and get new oranges). Great example of employee lead and ownership driven change.
And get new oranges they did.
In 2013, the sales team targeted 25 new accounts to generate a goal of $250K in new sales in 2014. They pursued them, pitched the benefits of the company and the products and services that they offered, and then the team delivered on the promises that the sales folks made.
The team celebrated each and every new client by posting the names of the client on the “success board” as well as the sales goals on a weekly basis, and made sure that first order (and every order after) was perfect. Nice job Team MVF!!
A perfect product, delivered in a timely way by caring friendly people…. nice promise to make…nicer promise to deliver.
The final numbers for the year showed that they nearly doubled their sales goals for the year by the effort made in prospecting the year before (90 feet in 60 days)-WOW!!!
The benefit of “watering the bamboo” is they now have a list of clients that they will continue to grow while at the same time also plant new seeds for business in the future.
Planting the seeds doesn’t mean we will see immediate results, but it does mean that we are investing the time, talent and treasure to make sure that the new sales of tomorrow are being watered today.
As we continue to enjoy the wave of opportunity coming to our industry over the next few years, let’s not get into the bad habit of saying “we have too much business right now to worry about prospecting” and “we can’t handle the business we have right now.”
So start sowing those seeds of love now, because you are going to love what they can do for you in the future.