Lessons Learned:1st Year Entrepreneur
Many years ago, in a land far, far away a young man stepped into the role of adulthood and very quickly became a father. I’m not sure what was scarier, that time in my life or jumping into the life of entrepreneurship!
Both required adjustments as to how I viewed myself and where I was going. Whoever, the latter came with a partner and a “guidebook” that provided wisdom and experience. Of course, I am referring to my wife and business partner, Amy. I highly recommend that if you are going to jump into the world of entrepreneurship find someone to share the ups and downs, laugh and cry, and kick you in the seat to get you moving from time to time.
These are a few of the observations from my first year full-time at being a family-owned, operated and growing business. It required learning new programs, software and most importantly sales in a vastly different industry. And quite frankly, if I could tell you one thing…don’t ever stop being willing to learning. Our world and technology are changing so quickly around us that if you quit learning, you would fail miserably. As for sales…that is the piece that has changed probably the least. Yes, I know we have programs, apps, CRMs and all kinds of gadgets to assist you. But true selling is still at its core unchanged. So, my schooling into this new entrepreneur position began formerly in Jan 2020.
These are the highlights of the rookie year.
“Clients are farmed AND hunted,” Professor Amy would explain, in her coaching voice. (Added for that cinematic effect)
Let me explain in more detail. As a co-owner of a multi-faceted business like ours, sales are critical. We are constantly working to make new contacts with potential customers and referral partners. This process is what we refer to as hunting. This is accomplished by networking, client referrals, our social media, and past clients returning for more coaching.
Farming on the other hand is a different process. Here we cultivate the relationships that we are establishing and begin to “drip” or if you would rather use the term “influence” them towards an active role as a client of ours. Always steering, yet not overly pushing, them toward the end goal. People like to be educated, informed, and not sold to. Both farming and hunting work beautifully together when done correctly and on a consistent basis. Even a year into our business, I am still learning this important lesson.
A question that we often get from salespeople is this one, “how many times should I continue to call on a potential customer/client before I walk away with nothing to show for my time”?
Well, I once read about a survey that was done by an insurance company and the average number of sales calls that were required for good agents was 7-12 times or until the potential customer asked for you to stop calling on them. Follow-up is critical to continue to be seen by these potential customers/clients so that you stay top-of-mind. I know it sounds like you eventually wear them down like your 6-year-old asking and asking for you to let little Johnny stay over for the night and you keep saying NO!
However, true follow up isn’t about sell sell sell. It is truly about relationship building. Offering value. Adding quality to the collaborative relationship. It has taken Amy many months of drilling this into my head for me to actually see how that works over time. I am not a very patient person and it is probably because of this that I to have struggled. I vow to beat this habit and become a follow-up disciple!
Speaking of touches, I have watched in amazement as my business partner has crafted, what I call the “Art of the Gifting”.
She gets such positive feedback and a plethora of thank you’s. She uses cards, positive emails, inexpensive gifts, and many, many more trinkets to smooze and shower her clients. And they love her for it! Apparently, this is such a phenomenal and forgotten tradition, and yet it works. We used the good ole’ US Postal system this last year to send gifts and such to those who were in lockdown and shelter in place just to keep them engaged. Many of these clients were elated and excited that we took the time to do this.
While I am sure these are not the only lessons that I have learned this year, they are very important and can mean the difference between filling a sales funnel or floundering in business. So, I would say to you who are reading this to take a little advice from one who has walked the path and give it a try.