Blowing snow is something we’re used to in Minnesota. You can learn five critical selling strategies from this tedious task.
For the first time in several years, we have a Christmas covering of snow and cold temperatures. The last couple of winters were mild and snow blowing was minimal all year. Can I learn critical selling strategies from blowing snow?
What the heck does blowing snow have to do with critical selling strategies? Please stay with me for a minute and read on.
Maybe you’re one of those Minnesotans who “hates winter” and, for some reason, still lives here. I’m not one of those, give me cold over blistering heat any day of the week!
After all, you can layer up and do whatever you want to do even if the thermometer shows a negative sign in front of it. It’s your choice.
When it’s 115 degrees with 85% humidity, it’s hard to escape that oppressive combination. The best thing to do is stay in an air conditioned environment.
This morning I woke to about 6 inches of new snow and temperatures in the low single digits. The duty of clearing the snow was inescapable. And it was cold. -8 degrees type of cold.
As I was firing up my “Beast” snow blower, I thought about my plan for attack. I wondered if snow blowing had parallels to critical selling strategies for success?
Huh? I know, I’m a sales and marketing nerd. Maybe you are, too? I decided there were strategy similarities and here they are:
Begin by wearing the right clothes.
Do you know the difference between a committed exerciser and an interested one? On a rainy day, an interested exerciser gets out of bed, looks out the window and thinks:
“Shoot, it’s raining. I’m going back to bed.”
A committed person gets up to the same conditions and thinks:
“It’s raining. I better get my rain gear to get my exercise done.”
It’s the same with snow blowing and selling.
If you must blow the snow and it’s cold and snowy, put something over your face, wear good gear and just get down to it. Before you know it, you’re done.
Selling is the same. If it’s raining, wear a raincoat. If you’re going out on snowy, slushy days, wear shoe covers or bring an extra set of shoes along.
And if you’re an inside selling person, this still applies to you.
Because of the rain or snow, it will take you longer to get to your office. When you sit down at your desk each day, have a plan, protect your time, set your daily goals and go to work on them.
Regardless of the weather…
The critical selling strategy here is preparation.
Assess the Conditions.
I step out from the garage to see which way the wind is blowing as this will determine my plan of attack to move the snow. Will I need to start with a divide and conquer right down the middle of the driveway? Or is the wind going to be blowing the snow right back to where I’ve already cleared?
Good selling representatives achieve their goals and sales quotas. To help them do this, they’re connected with their management and marketing teams. They know their resources, how to align incentives and execute critical selling strategies.
Pay attention to the edges.
Can plowing snow teach you critical sales strategies?[/caption] One of the aspects of strategic snow blowing is paying attention to the edges. In the early Fall, people place orange rods in the ground along their driveways and sidewalks.
These thin stakes demarcate the edges. Clearing snow to the edges make sure the width of roadways, driveways and sidewalks stay the same. Otherwise, things can get tight over time!
In your selling territory, what stakes do you have in place to make sure that you are always pushing on the edges? With no markers, the edges blur, competition creeps in and opportunities get blocked off.
Clean edges come from a system. One that will guide your thinking and actions on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. Are you setting daily goals and meeting them? How about monthly and quarterly, too?
In my experience, it’s the little victories that pile up to create big ones. It’s easy to let the small wins go unnoticed and the edges get blurry because I’m too focused far down the road.
Help your neighbor.
My family and I moved into our home more than 18 years ago. Our neighbors on both sides were here when we moved in and both are still here now.
One family, the Shaeffer’s, are good friends and their kids are the same ages as ours. On the other side, the Mullin’s, are good neighbors but we’ve never been friends. I can’t say why, that’s just how it is.
Sometimes when I go out to clear snow, I’m the first guy out in the neighborhood. When this happens, I do their sidewalks and move of the pile the city snowplow leaves at the end of the driveway. It’s a pretty simple gesture and I like to be of service.
When Matt or Paul gets up first, or I’m out of town and Jean is home alone, they do the same for me. It doesn’t take long and it’s a nice surprise to go out and find my work partly finished for me.
Recently, a successful software selling friend, shared some advice with my son, Mike. As a recent computer science grad, Mike is new to the software selling business.
He told Mike a story of his early days selling an enterprise software solution. Once a month, Steve met with three other reps who sold products and services complimentary to his. Over time the three became friends and exchanged many leads.
Steve added some commentary to the story that resonated with Mike and I hope he remembers. He told Mike that the greatest benefit he got out of operating that way wasn’t the leads for his network. It was the increased ability to solve problems for his current or prospective customer.
So by helping his neighbor, Steve gained for himself, too. Sounds like a good deal to me!
Execute to completion.
If you’ve ever blown snow, you know that it’s impossible to get all the snow removed from the area. The wind blows, the snowblower misses a little bit and pretty soon you have what I call a 90% job.
Well, the beauty lies in the last 10%! Have you ever seen a driveway in the middle of winter in Minnesota with the snow piled high and the driveway clean? It’s a thing of beauty – I know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder….
Executing the last 10% is also a critical selling strategy, too. Early in my career a mentor said, “This is an easy game to win that we’re playing. Do what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it and you’ll be successful. Because so few people follow up it’s mind boggling.”
Many reps have a great critical selling strategy and fail because they stop before the goal line. Sending an email or leaving a voice mail is not follow up.
Follow up is delivering what you promised. Did you send an email? Not done. How about leaving a voice mail? Nope, that doesn’t do it either. You must do something that moves you closer to your goal and is quantifiable.
That, is follow up. And your customers will love you for it!
I’m wondering why we use the past tense of “Sales” for someone who handles selling? And, yet, we don’t do the same for Marketing? As in, “That’s the Sales department over there and Marketing is on the third floor.” It’s passive, let’s change it….
If you have a chore in your life that you like to apply to your work, please leave a comment below and tell me about it. I’d love to hear your story…