sales

farmer eavisGlastonbury tickets sold out in under 90 minutes. It would have been faster, but there were the inevitable IT issues. This generated around £30 million of income in just 90 minutes. Not bad for a farmer, eh?

But a farmer is used to taking care of his land and livestock and making the most of them and getting the most out of them. Michael Eavis is doing exactly the same with his annual festival as he’s done with his dairy farm.

In sales there is often the differentiation between the Hunter and the Farmer type of selling (there is also the Poacher and the Trader, but that’s for another time). The Farmer salesperson looks after his existing customers and nurtures and develops them.  The Farmer cultivates his relationship with the land and things that feed him. The Farmer protects his livestock and their future – as the Farmers’ future is intimately linked with them.

Most businesses folk (and sales folk) feel more comfortable in the Farmer role than the Hunter role due to the existing relationship that exists. Yet, at times the Farmer can get a little lazy and rely on the relationship to feed them, without putting the nurturing effort in and responding to the changing needs of the client. Research shows that around 2/3 of customers leave a supplier because they do not feel that they are properly engaged or cared for and that the supplier is indifferent about them.

Michael Eavis has done a wonderful job over the years of developing his festival so it meets the changing needs of the customer. I recall the outcry when dance music first came to Worthy Farm. Now, it’s an integral and lively part of the event.  Likewise when “posh camping” and R&B music acts headlined the Pyramid stage. The loyalty that his customers show to the festival is impressive and is a result of this nurturing and responding to the changing customer needs.

The folks who bought those tickets don’t know who will be playing yet! How many other businesses could take £30million in advance and without announcing exactly what you are going to get?

That’s impressive farming.

The_Journey_Cuthbert_of_Lindisfarne

I’m struggling to resolve the following observations:

Many, if not all of the folks I work with say they are “busy”. That’s not unusual, like the hard drive that always fills up regardless of its size, so the work day fills up with “stuff” regardless of how many hours we put into it.  When breaking down the components of “busy” it seems that working on getting the in-box down – or clear – is the main drain on time and energy. Emails arrive at a faster rate that they appear to be dealt with.

However, statistics appear to be showing that there is a decline in overall email use. This is more marked the younger you are. In fact the only age group where email use is growing is the 55+ age group. This is explained by many connecting and communicating via text, social media and phone messenger services. For those under 35 there is a drop (year-on-year) of around 40% in email usage: now that’s a lot! My take on this is that younger folks are not using email to communicate outside of work – older folks are carrying on as normal and still keep sending lots of information to lots of people (often ‘just in case’ or ‘FYI’ so they can “CYA”).

Direct mail shots are dying away… email shots (unless highly targeted and relevant) are treated with the CTL+D key. Social Networks have the advantage that you can communicate in an open space (so everyone sees the conversation – great for customer service) or in private (for those 1-2-1 messages) – this seems to me a much better way to communicate within and outside of the office. Some have responded to this with a company Facebook page. Great if you are in a B2C market, but many organisations IT departments block access to Facebook during office hours. So for the B2B market – what do you do? Linkedin?

So, how long before company websites are more like a social networking site; shared by the staff and customers? This open, honest and transparent way of doing business is the future, I think. Website content will be less the company saying how great it is and what it does for the customer – but more about the customer telling the company what it thinks about them (positive and negative) and what it needs to do to grow. That’s the kind of organisation I’d like to do business with – how about you?

Scary or liberating?

hiding-from-customersI recall one evening, when I was a teenager (a very long time ago) my Mum coming into my room as I was on my bed listening to music. “You not going out tonight with the lads?” she asked. “No” I replied, “they are out with their girlfriends”. Mum then left my room to get on with the sorts of things that Mums did but returned a little later and put her head around the door. “If you want to get a girlfriend too, chances are you need to get out there, I doubt if she’s going to be knocking on your door saying ‘There you are, I found you’ any point soon”.

The wonder of Mum’s is that they are invariably right. The problem teenagers have with Mums is that this is the case. But after a while, I did manage to “get out there” and did find a girlfriend. So this little story has a happy ending.

Wind forward 10-15 years or so. I am in my first sales job (having moved across from a technical support position) and my Boss comes into the office. He gives me a little smile as I am reading through my letters of the day (that’s what we did before email) and shuffling some papers. My boss walks over to me and looks under my desk. He says nothing and then wanders over to the cupboard, opens it and peers inside. He then goes to the other desk in the office and looks under that. Turning to me he asks “I can’t see them Trevor, where are you hiding them?” with a confused expression I ask  “Hiding what?” He gives me a very serious look “The customer’s Trevor, I can’t see them anywhere…”  I start to formulate a response when it dawns on me the point he is making. I’d become a little too ‘office friendly’ in much the same way I was ‘bedroom friendly’ during my teenage years. By boss was making exactly the same point as my Mum had been. You have to be ‘out there’ in order to find, make and build new relationships.

So if you are reading this in your office on a Monday morning and your “to-do” list is keeping you there for most of the day (or week) ask yourself “Where are those new customers?”