Workin’ on the Farm

Mark Frasco - President


Yesterday, one of my good friends sent me this picture. This is a barge leaving the Port of Toledo for a grateful port on the other side of the world. This ship is carrying 26,000 tons of corn. That’s a lot of corn… about 52,000,000 pounds.

This got me thinking about corn, but more specifically the production of corn and other crops and how they’re grown. What is the process of growing crops? Seems simple enough, but in fact it is a very complex process.

The steps, according to Mahtab Rasheed, in his “Farming Life Cycle” article, are crop selection, land preparation, seed selection, seed sowing, irrigation, crop growth, and harvesting. After investigating these stages a bit, it became more and more obvious to me that there are very strong analogies to the process of business growth. Now, I’m not the first to make this connection; after all, a few generations of sales trainers have referred to business development personalities as hunters or farmers.

We need hunters. They thrive on the “hunt” – identify, pitch and close. The faster they can get the order and move to the next, the better. They are often extroverts, active, somewhat distracted, independent, and adrenaline driven. Hunters work the trade show booths, they network, and they negotiate and close the deal. Sure, they work more than one deal at a time, but not too many. They typically want to focus on the one that is closest to closing. Again, we need hunters.

So, what is it about the farmer that gains our attention? Doesn’t farming take a while? Can we afford farmers? Why not just enjoy the prize of each hunt?

Let’s take a look at farming and farming sales process activities:

Farming

Farming Sales Process

Crop Selection

  • Evaluate comparative pricing of different crops

  • Research market demand and sales potential

  • Determine budget required for the cultivation of each crop

Strategic Architecture

  • Evaluate and determine what you intend to sell

  • Decide how it will be sold – the steps, the structure, the cost

  • Determine who ideally will buy it

  • Discuss why they’d buy it from you

Land Preparation

  • Fertilizers need to be chosen

  • Properly layout the field for efficient irrigation

  • Level the field for optimal growing surface

Sales Tools

  • Design sales tools, such as call plan, opportunity filter, sales funnel

  • Organize your CRM

  • Design marketing materials

Seed Selection

  • Learn pricing and quantity required per acre

  • Determine suitability to area or climate

  • Investigate resistance to disease

  • Locate offices for distribution of seed

Target List

  • Determine characteristics or traits of ideal buying systems: location, size, industry, other demographic definers

  • Determine ideal buyer type: engineering, IT, purchasing; C-Level, technical, user

  • Finalize list based on your differentiating factors – reducing the competition

Seed Sowing

  • Determine best conditions and timing for sowing

  • Determine best method for sowing

  • Determine optimal depth to sow

Build Awareness

  • Implement proactive, consistent outreach, creating interaction that leads to trust

  • Don’t forget human interaction – it takes one to know one

Irrigation

  • Determine amount of water needed

  • Determine the frequency of irrigation

  • Decide on the best timing for irrigation

Relationship Development

  • Determine the correct frequency and media – 10 – 12 interaction per year

  • Create a learning rhythm, profiling the buying system

  • Learn level of interest, timing and budget for your solution

Crop Growth

  • Care for growth, by maintaining proper density of plants per area

  • Review and compare crop characteristics, rate of growth, leaf size, crop color, etc.

  • Determine proper frequency of fertilizing, plowing, weeding

  • Be aware of pest and virus attacks on crop

  • Intervene, based on indicators

Relationship Management (Nurturing)

  • Identify power and support in the buying system

  • Identify buying cues and design solutions that closely fit the need

  • Leverage all that you know to reduce competitive threats

  • Determine optimal communication channel and customize content and frequency

Harvesting

  • Determine the most proper time for harvesting

  • Finalize storage needs

  • Identify cost of transportation

Positioning

  • Determine timing of the deal

  • Evaluate various solution sets and comparable pricing options

  • Evaluate various delivery methods and collaborate on best to implement

  • Position and propose the winning solution

So, why don’t our sales systems more closely replicate that of the farmer’s process? If I had to venture a guess, it has to do with the need for attention to detail and perseverance. Each discrete step of farming isn’t in itself very complex, but the structures, analysis, processes, learning and adjustments across the system require higher-level thinking.

I was a hunter for many years… a good one, if I do say so. Whereas in the day, I was keenly aware of anything that moved; I now work to plant my business growth future firmly in the ground… farming style.

Questions or comments? Please contact Mark Frasco at mfrasco@teamCOACT.com.