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Relationship Farming And Tough Times: Opportunity For Pruning

Relationship Farming And Tough Times: Opportunity For Pruning

Terry Brock, MBA, CSP

The dismal economy has given you and me, as small business owners and salespeople, a real gift. Yep! You might not initially think of it as a gift but this really is.

Before you pop the champagne, let’s look at what is going on and what we can do about it. Yes, times are tough now. Just look at the recent collapse of Indy-Mac, the massive problems with Fannie Mae and Freedie Mac, daily increases in the price of oil, problems in the housing sector, the auto sector and other areas of the economy. And if that weren’t enough—- Budweiser is going to be owned by a bunch of Belgians! Is nothing sacred???

Yet, in the middle of all this bad news, you and I have a special opportunity that we didn’t have in earlier, better times. You know the metaphor I use in building and maintaining relationships. I think of it much like farming. You have to study the soil, till the soil, plant the crops, nurture them and perform many other tasks to produce a good harvest.

There is another important part of farming. It is called pruning. You have to cut back on the things that aren’t producing.

This is the same for you and me in our businesses. We have to be relationship farmers. You have to prune activities, tasks and yes, people in your life where results are not in line with your goals. During thriving times it is easier to just say, “Let’s grow the business more. We have plenty so it is easy to avoid the tough decisions.”

Serious marketers and relationship farmers know there is a time to cut activities, tasks and yes, even relationships that don’t work. This is hard and requires serious thinking. You also don’t want to cut the muscle when cutting the fat. Use your best judgment here.

Jack Welch helped us when he talked about his annual 10% cut. He would annually cut the bottom 10% of people, activities and tasks that were not producing optimal results. This required serious thinking in terms of what is right for the business. It is a big part of Relationship Marketing and Relationship Farming.

In Relationship Farming, you have to decide which “crops” are not giving you the desired results you need to keep the business going. What activities are you engaged in which could be delegated or divested? What vendors do you have who could be eliminated or replaced?