Six Things Sales And Marketing Have In Common With Farming
While the old analogy, “what you sow is what you reap” probably comes to mind, you might be wondering just what other sales & marketing wisdom can be taken from digging in the dirt.
You might be surprised by the similarities, not just in processes but also of the mindset needed to be successful.
Sales and marketing today are very different than they were, even just a few years ago.
Your ideal clients now have plenty of choices easily available to them and access to the information that will help them make that choice.
If you want them to choose YOU, you need to give them a good reason.
You need to be easy to find, you need to stand out and most importantly, you need to make it very clear why you are the only choice for them.
So how exactly do you accomplish this?
You do this by building a relationship and establishing trust with your ideal clients.
Oddly enough, building trust and relationships is a lot like farming.
Here are the six stages of farming and how you can take these lessons into your sales & marketing to be successful – and yes, fruitful.
Long before you begin planting you must plan it out.
While you could just throw any seeds you have randomly through your fields, this would not produce what you want, you would not be maximizing the space and it would be difficult to maintain your farm.
The same goes for sales & marketing.
To make the most of your resources, create a system or plan that you can easily maintain and that will get the results you are looking for. To do this you will require a strategy and a sales funnel.
Start by ensuring you know who your ideal clients are and their specific needs and challenges.
Once you’ve done this, the next step is to determine the best content to create that will help them meet their needs and overcome their challenges, in a format they would prefer (articles, infographics, videos, etc.).
Once this is done, you are ready to begin the preparation stage.
The preparation stage in farming includes collecting all the tools and seeds you would need to carry out your plan.
In terms of your sales & marketing, this translates into actually creating content and collecting all the resources you will need to put your marketing plan and sales funnel into action.
This involves creating educational and entertaining content, lead magnets for your sales funnel and producing or curating any other resources you might need.
Like with the seeds, you must ensure that your content and resources are new and fresh. They have to be based on what your ideal clients need right now. Stale and old content will not produce the results you are looking for.
Just as you need to prep your soil in farming, so to must you prep your digital platforms. These can include your website, newsletter and social media profiles.
For example, everyone should have a professional looking social media profile photo that will be used on all of their social media platforms.
As well as your profile photo, you want to create consistent branding in each of those places with your cover photos and descriptions.
This consistency not only makes you look professional (creating trust) but also makes it easier for people to identify you no matter what platform they are on.
When you have finished planning and prepping your farm, it is time to plant the seeds.
Again, this is also true of your sales & marketing. After you have a plan and the resources in place to carry it out, it is time to act.
Keep in mind that like the seeds you plant on your farm, those that you plant in the minds and hearts of your ideal clients will take time to come to fruition.
Trust and relationship building takes time. It is a process.
Planting seeds online comes in many formats. You have followers across all kinds of social networks, yet many don’t have any clue as to what you do. Without being overtly salesy, you can plant seeds as to what you do and who you help.
If you are a speaker, for example, you will want photos of yourself speaking that you can include in your content or on your social media profiles. This is a subtle but powerful way to let people know that you are a speaker and acts as social proof.
If you are a consultant, it can be extremely effective to share stories of your work with clients. These stories can be humorous (in positive ways) or share great successes or break through moments for your existing clients. The power of these stories is that not only does it help your audience to emotionally connect with you, but they can also better imagine themselves working with you to receive their own successful results and “aha” moments.
As I work with many professionals and industries (such as financial services) where trust is essential to their success, I can tell you it is paramount to let people get to know you better. This is important in building a level of trust and connection.
A great way to allow people to get to know you better is through videos and even livestreaming. Video is an excellent way to allow your ideal clients to get a sense of who you are as a person and if you do it right, position yourself as an authority on your topic.
After you are done planting, if you ignore and neglect your fields they may never germinate. Alternately, they may begin to grow but will soon become an overgrown mess filled with weeds and dead plants.
To have a healthy and fruitful farm, you must first water your seeds so they will germinate and grow. You must then continue to nurture them with consistent weeding and watering.
Marketing and sales are similar in this respect. Building trust and relationships with people online requires consistency, effort and dedication from you.
You need to spend time engaging with those people who are interacting or engaging with your content and resources.
Spend time replying to comments on your blog. Answer questions that people ask on your social media sites. Thank those people who are sharing or commenting on your content.
Provide support to customers with problems. Even if this means that you just acknowledge them and their issue first on social media and then take the conversation offline.
Most importantly, treat people like they matter and are important to you and your company.
Continue to have touch points and stay top of mind with further educational content and contact.
You have invested the time and work, you are now ready to harvest.
But this doesn’t mean you can just sit on your laurels. The fruits of your labor will not harvest themselves and you only have a small window of time, so don’t let your work go to waste.
Just like farming, harvesting from your sales and marketing funnel requires active and timely work on your part. This is where the sale happens.
Once you have developed a relationship and established the trust of your ideal clients, you will be the person they turn to when they need someone who does what you do.
Don’t let these potential customers who are ready to buy from you, slip through your fingers.
If you are a service based business this means you must move the relationship offline and have a discussion in person, by phone or video chat. While some people will be ready to buy right away, some may need more time and communication, especially if it is a larger investment.
The best and most successful farmers always take the time to analyze what worked and what didn’t work at the end of each season.
It is this process of analyzing which allows the farmer to tweak their plan to ensure they are even more fruitful next season.
Like with farming, sales & marketing is an ever-evolving system which requires you to continually evaluate and fine-tune your plan, your processes and your content and resources.
Remember that the digital space is constantly changing and evolving and so are your ideal clients. You must be willing and able to adapt as necessary to keep your business relevant and profitable.
Becoming effective and profitable with your sales & marketing is incredibly similar to being a successful farmer.
Just like farming, there is no instant miracle grow that will take you right from seed to fruit. You have to be consistent and dedicated as well as patient and attentive, planning for the long term and looking at things from a big picture perspective.
It is the care and devotion that you put into your farm each day that will ultimately be rewarded with the biggest fruit. The same can be said for sales & marketing.
Need help to create your own successful sales and marketing plan?
Melonie Dodaro is founder of Top Dog Social Media that helps brands and businesses, use social media marketing and social selling to boost visibility, attract new customers and increase revenue. Dodaro is also the author of The LinkedIn Code. To learn more visit www.TopDogSocialMedia.com