When I graduated from BC and was facing the gloom and rigors of graduate school, I came up with what I thought was a much better idea, and to the great consternation of my father, joined the Peace Corps, landing six months later in Moshi, Tanzania at the base of Kilimanjaro. Fluent in Swahili, I taught English and had what became a life changing experience. During the next couple of years, I taught, built libraries, inoculated hundreds of people, and as a group, we changed the lives of countless people. Would heartily recommend the Peace Corps to anyone!
Northern Tanzania is an exceptionally beautiful and bountiful place to live. Lush in vegetation, perfect in its climate, Moshi was awash in fruits and vegetables of every color and shape. Most of the year, the markets were plentiful with inexpensive food, and although we did not even think of the phrase “low hanging fruit”, the reality was that the farms were overflowing with just that come harvest time. Each semester, as my students returned from break, we were inundated with gifts of red, green, yellow and black bananas ranging in size from short inches to a foot. Fruit and vegetables everywhere such that it didn’t take much effort to sell what was ridiculously cheap produce piled up in the market.
So, when I hear this phrase “low hanging fruit” that has become nestled in our marketing speak to define a sales strategy, it never really makes any sense to me. The theory is that since there’s an apparent abundant oversupply of prospective business available, and since it’s on the lower branches, we might as well just pick it off, harvest the results and run to the bank. I guess that’s it, right?
First, I don’t buy the theory. If business is that abundant, and it’s staring me in the face, then it’s doing the same to every one of my competitors and basically anyone else who wants to jump in the market. Products become commodities, prices drop, supplies are quickly consumed, the market disappears, and prices jump up. Not sure that I can or even want to try to sell value during crazy swings in the market. Sell lower prices? That never works. Sell “first to market”? That rarely works except for the suppliers who are quickly in and as quickly out, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not smart enough to figure the market timing.
Second, when I’ve experienced these markets, I really didn’t need any professional salespeople-merely order takers. Good work if you can get it, but not sustainable, and it creates havoc within any professional salesforce since they became less sharp when they aren’t really consistently using any of their selling skills. In fact, what I really should be doing-if there is a low hanging fruit market-is hiring inexpensive, temporary order takers at dollars/hour for the lower branches and pushing my professional salespeople to go climb the tree and find the bigger, higher margin deals.
Rather than wasting time and valuable sales talent going after low hanging fruit-assuming that there really are these markets-I would rather skill my salespeople to learn sustainable value propositions that stick to the frontal lobes of their prospects. Value propositions that slap prospects upside the head such that they almost shout out, “Tell me more”, and not sit there numb with their eyes glazing over while they’re really thinking, “So what?” or worse yet, “Wonder what’s for dinner tonight?”
The vast majority of our sales professionals are just that...”professionals”. As coaches, our job should be to work with them and skill them to climb higher into the trees, to sell at the highest levels in the organization of their new prospects and existing customers and to focus on selling value, not features and price.
A couple of ideas...
Click HERE for a Brainsharked presentation on Value Propositions.
For more ideas in creating higher value sales, think about attending our Sales Management Boot Camp on October 2nd-4th.
- Five years
- Over 350 graduates
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Good Selling !