The Law of Harvesting

05 April 2021

The Law of Harvesting

Written by Jim Mathis

WII-FM: What's In It - For ME?

About ten minutes before I left my hotel room for a presentation, I received a cold-call from a guy working for a company that prepares taxes for small and medium-sized businesses.  He was formal but totally inattentive.  He rushed right into his calling script.  

I could tell because he was reading it like it was a high-speed radio ad.  He talked on and on about his services without pausing for a breath (or a response from me). He rattled it off so fast that I knew he had done no research on me or what I did for a living…  

And he wanted to do my taxes!

Finally I told him nicely that I could not talk with him now. But...  before I said, "thank you" he hung up on me. That's a first!  I have been hung up on a few times (less than seven) in my sales calls but never hung up on by the person selling to me!  Has that ever happened to you?

He was so busy reading his script and telling me information that I don’t think he had a clue what seed he was planting in customers’ minds.  He probably doesn’t care but I am sorry it ended.  

I wish there had been more time for us to talk.  I would like to tell him how to make his calls more effective and how to harvest a big crop from the seeds he is planting.  However, like the parable in the Bible, he is throwing seeds indiscriminately… not cultivating the right ones that are guaranteed to prosper. He needs to reinvent his approach and attitude.

Looking back I wish I could have shared the Laws of Sales Harvesting.  I heard a variation of this on a church retreat in college. There are multiple sources, but these laws apply to your sales.  If you know these laws, you will reap the rewards of a great crop of sales:  

  • You reap WHAT you sow.The First Law of Sales Harvesting is that you get out what you put in (What goes around, comes around).If you plant tomato seeds, you will get tomatoes.  If you plant apple seeds you won’t grow oranges. Duh! 

 

In the same way, you will get the benefits of many buyers by planting the seeds that grow buyers.  People don’t care about the features you are selling; they only care about the benefits to them.  If you plant seeds just about your features, people won’t know the benefits of your products or services.   And your “crop” won’t grow!

Make your sales about the prospective buyer (the benefits to them).  I heard a speaker say years ago, “Nobody cares about your products; only how they can benefit them.”  I learned watching the cable show, Pawn Stars,that the more someone sells their own value to the shop owner, the less he wants to buy their item.  No buyer cares about what you value or your problems.  They all want to know what is in the deal for them!

Face it, we have become obsessed with what we think we deserve… to the point that the new National Anthem should be:

“Oh say, can you see, 

What’s in it for me?”

We are really into self-indulgence.  In fact, almost everyone’s favorite radio station is “WII-FM” (What’s In It – For Me!). Arguing about the features or shaming me into buying fails every time.  It loses the benefits and focuses on emotions.  Emotional buying usually ends with one emotion: regret. 

I never bought anything because I LOST an argument with a salesperson.

I never have sold anything because I WON an argument with a buyer.

So what can you learn from sowing/selling in a narcissistic market? 

Don’t argue!  Rather take advantage of buyer self-focus. Ask more questions about the buyer, their customers, their competition and their business and history.  If you ask great questions and engage prospects, you will reap their benefits. You will reap exactly what you sow.

  • You reap LATER than when you sow.The Second Law involves time. Sales success is about time and numbers. What goes around comes back at some point after time.

 

This past spring I was in Illinois. I learned that there is a narrow window that farmers can plant to get their crops in and matured in time for the fall harvest.  Nobody plants expecting to harvest immediately.  The work a planter does today won’t be reaped for quite some time.  In sales most people don’t buy on the first call.  You have to put in time and many contacts to get results. 

Persistence might pay off; but diligence makes you respectable.

Sales results are all in the numbers. In the best-selling book: Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results, I wrote about a report on sales success:

“In a study conducted by the National Retail Dry Goods Association it was revealed that unsuccessful first attempts lead almost half of all sales people to quit: 

  • 48 percent of all sales people make one call… and stop!
  • 25 percent of all sales people make two calls… and stop!
  • 15 percent of all sales people make three calls… and stop! 
  • 12 percent of all sales people keep calling and calling and calling…

And wouldn’t you know that those 12 percent make 80 percent of all sales!”

It takes time to close a deal. I have only sold twice in my life on the first call (and I made them wait for a day to make sure they were sure they wanted to buy!). 

Some people say I am persistent and there was a time when I liked that characterization. But in a market where there are pestering sales people all competing for the same thing (with usually the same approach), I started to dislike the word. There isn’t a lot of difference between the words “pest” and “persistent.”  In fact, they share too many letters in common.


I started to use the word, “diligent.” It implies hard work and faithfulness to the customer. It is positive in almost every way.  I tell customers I am calling back to be diligent to their request.  This gets very positive feedback.  And I keep calling… 

I heard a saying several years ago:  

Apathetic sales people have hungry children!

 

If you practice diligence now it will pay off later.  I know that for every cold call I make today, it will reflect in about six months to a year with more clients. That is why I laugh when someone says, “We aren’t looking for anything now, but we will be next year.” “That’s okay,” I say. “I need to work next year, too!”

That remark usually gets a positive response.  And when I call back the next year I have a better chance to close the sale.  You will reap later than when you sow.

  • You reap MORE than what you sow.The Third Law is that for every seed you plant, the yield (results) will be more numerous. What goes around comes back… in abundance.

 

For instance, as I write this I am flying over the cornfields of Nebraska and Iowa. It has been a very rainy season and the corn is tall and abundant.  Each stalk is producing one or two ears of corn with many, many kernels (seeds). Do you realize, of course, that each stalk that is producing all those kernels was started with just one seed?  

In the same way, the sales numbers mentioned earlier work in your favor. The calls you make today will result in more business tomorrow.  I just presented for the third time to a group that I cold-called six years go.  They keep bringing me back and each time, it has resulted in more people who want to hire me. That happens frequently with my business every year.

It can happen to you, too.  The calls you make today will multiply what you reap in the months and years to come.  You will have more business than you know what to do with if you put in the efforts (sow more seeds) today.  

Great sales people know that 60% of their business comes from repeat customers… repeat customers who not only keep buying from them but tell their friends and acquaintances.  Great sales almost always result in great referrals, and vice-versa.  You will reap more than what you sow.

The seeds you plant today will yield multiple harvests.  Stay with it now and you will be more prosperous in the future. 

About the Author

Jim Mathis

Jim Mathis

You can reinvent yourself!

Hello!  I am a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), is The Reinvention Professional™. I help leaders compete in a changing and challenging global marketplace.  As a best-selling author of Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results and international coach and consultant, I have reinvented myself and my own business numerous times.  

I share my expertise in an interactive, common-sense style.  I write on topics to help you begin the journey of reinventing what you do, how you do and and for whom you do it.  You may receive my monthly free e-newsletter by sending a message to subscribe@jimmathis.com with the word, SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.

Your feedback, comments and personal reinvention stories are welcome!  Let me know how you are changing your strategy and changing your results.

Thank you,

-Jim Mathis, CSP, MDiv.

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