Be patient – You are a christmas tree farmer

Yesterday, I ran into a 24-year old young man who is the son of close family friends. I’ve known “Jake” since he was a little kid, so I’ve seen for years that he has a magnetic, charismatic personality, and has always been able to attract friends.

About a year ago Jake started working for a local firm selling life insurance and investments – a very difficult career for anyone to start at a young age, with its long sales cycles and the need to get people to trust you with their money.  He and I work out at the same club, so I see him on a regular basis and have a chance to hear updates on his progress. Some days I’d see him, elated, after a promising meeting with a prospect.  Sometimes he was discouraged he wasn’t closing more sales yet.

My comments to him:  You have started a career path where long-term relationships create riches.  If you have enough great meetings with prospects now, you will start to build relationships with some of them.  When you are 40, some of the relationships you start this month may be paying your mortgage.  Meetings you have next month will start relationships that will help send your kids to college.  If anybody can make it in this business, you can. The only question: Can you wait?

In most businesses, customer relationships are your most valuable asset. Jake has chosen a business where this is especially true, with great rewards for those who can create and nurture long-term relationships.  But we’re all like Jake to an extent: Can we be patient and invest now, one relationship-building encounter at a time, in building those relationships that will help us prosper in the future?

Certainly, Jake could use his exceptional relationship-building skills for more short-term financial gains.  He could be a waiter in a fine-dining restaurant, creating 45-minute relationships that, I’m sure, would earn him the largest tips of all the servers.  But, beyond the few repeat customers who ask for him, these relationships wouldn’t create lasting value for Jake.  If his insurance job is like that of a christmas tree farmer, being a waiter would be more like that of a migrant worker, earning wages for today but starting over tomorrow.

I’m rooting for Jake, and for his firm. If he and they can be patient, all will benefit, including Jake’s future clients, since We relationships create strong benefits for both  buyers and sellers.

It’s easy to look at Jake’s situation and think, “I’m glad that’s not me. I could never sell insurance.” And yes, specifically, I could never sell insurance. I’d go nuts.  But Jake’s job really isn’t selling insurance. It’s building relationships that differentiate him from other providers in the minds of his clients.  And when we recognize that we again remind ourselves that Jake’s challenge is our challenge: Do we want to be the migrant worker or the christmas tree farmer?  Do we want to build our business around short-term transactions that produce their yields now, or do we want to invest in a rich, bountiful future harvest?

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in We relationships
One comment on “Be patient – You are a christmas tree farmer
  1. Christmas tree farmers may work hard on their future harvests, but they need the lessons from this post, too.

    Against their best efforts, my husband and I have developed a relationship with the family farm we visit for our Christmas tree. At this farm, you cut your own tree, and it’s great fun. But our favorite part of the experience is the bah-humbug attitude of the multi-generational family staff.

    The best example was last year, when the pater familias handed us the saw and started into his long-winded spiel, “Stay on the gravel and only cut trees on the left side. When you finish, come back here. We’ll tie down the tree while you go into that tent to pay. While you’re in there, buy a wreath or whatever other shit she’s made.” He spoke so fast that I don’t think most kids would catch the color commentary… I hope.

    My husband and I may have a perverse sense of humor, so we enjoy this spectacle. But, of course, imagine how many more loyal customers this farm would have if they instilled a little bit more “Christmas cheer” into the whole process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Subscribe to the Blog
Email:  

On Steve's Mind
Get Steve's newsletter featuring his ideas and practical advice delivered to your email inbox.
* = required field
Latest Tweets
Testimonials
Doug Ducey
In one morning, Steve re-energized the way we look at marketing. The only question we had at the end of the session was, ‘When can we get him back?'

Doug Ducey

CEO & Chairman, Cold Stone Creamery, Governor of Arizona
Ward Alles
Steve Yastrow knows his stuff. That's why our management team has read all of his books. And that's why we've had him as a keynote speaker at both client and employee events. From creating brand alignment, to selling more effectively, to providing top-notch customer service, Steve offers words of wisdom based on real-life experiences. He always engages his audiences with questions, interactive exercises and great storytelling that keep you coming back for more. Read Steve's books. Then book Steve. You'll be glad you did.

Ward Alles

CEO, Core Creative
Alex von Bidder
In these high pressure times of bite-size communications we all hunger to be listened to and cared for individually. Our customers know great hospitality, the kind that is not about selling but treating their needs as our highest priority. Steve Yastrow’s teachings are applicable to any business that values long-standing success based on personal relationships.

Alex von Bidder

Managing Partner, The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York
Ditch the Pitch is a great read-- interesting, fun, and easy to follow. And I’ve already seen the concepts work. Just yesterday, I called a client and had a conversation that was 95% about the client, as the book suggests. At the end of the call, he sent a new matter my way. I ditched the pitch and it resulted in new business.

Attorney

Chicago, IL
american-licorice-logo
We have seen huge benefits from Steve's input. Steve is unlike any other consultant I've ever worked with. He takes a genuine, deep-seated interest in our business. He is intuitive and able to identify problem issues quickly. We wouldn't be as far along in acheiving of our long-term growth strategy if we hadn't actively and aggressively pursued Steve's Brand Harmony.

Michael MacDonald

Executive VP Sales and Marketing, American Licorice Co.
Chris Miller
I rarely book speakers more than once. But I’ve used Steve four times! Steve has our association’s interest at heart and works tirelessly to deliver customized programs. He always ranks highly with our affiliates because he is outcome-focused, fast-paced and highly engaging. Anyone looking for insight and understanding into marketing, branding and sales should book Steve!

Chris Miller

Executive Director, Professional Systems Network International
Mike Depatie
Steve Yastrow is at the forefront of the next evolution in marketing. We have implemented many of his innovative ideas... and have seen very positive results.

Mike Depatie

CEO, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
Alex von Bidder
Steve Yastrow's teachings are applicable to any business that values long-standing success based on personal relationships.

Alex von Bidder

Managing Partner, The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York
jim-evans
Yastrow and Company introduced Brand Harmony and their Be the Brand concept to our team at Jenny Craig.  I believe these new ideas contributed in helping us triple the company's revenue during my years as CEO.

Jim Evans

former President and CEO, Jenny Craig
Kathleen Phillips
Not only is Steve's content sound, but the energy he displays in delivering it will knock your socks off.

Kathleen Phillips

Ernst & Young, Chicago, IL
roma-maxwell
Rancho La Puerta has enjoyed continued success because of the work we did with Yastrow and Company. Together, we implemented business strategies that have contributed to our success. Steve and his team truly believe in our brand. I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that needs help building the bottom line.

Roma Maxwell

Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Marc Allen
We are absolutely better off after engaging Yastrow and Company. They helped us look at our business from our clients’ perspective, resulting in a cultural shift throughout our organization. These changes have made a big impact - we’ve gained new clients and strengthened relationships with existing clients. The investment was well worth it.

Marc Allen

Vice President of Sales, AMD Industries
Chris Tucker
Steve is a creative and collaborative speaker who communicates his ideas clearly and concisely. He immediately understood our business needs and provided a better perspective on how our customers see us as a company. I have referred Steve to our customers in the past and I will continue to do so. He’s intuitive and has a unique way of looking at business. Steve has the experience to turn a project into something extremely valuable for any organization. I strongly recommend working with Yastrow and Company.

Chris Tucker

Director of Business Development, MBX Systems
Craig Dwight
Steve’s approach to integrating all customer contacts into a comprehensive marketing message is a must in today’s information age. We have partnered with Steve to develop our integrated and comprehensive marketing message, and as a result of his excellent work, his new book is required reading for all of our employees.

Craig Dwight

Chairman & CEO, Horizon Bancorp
jim-winter
Steve put together a program that produced spectacular results, and the quality of our communication and customer satisfaction is vastly improved. I’ve been in business for 40 years, and Steve’s the first consultant that I’ve gotten my money’s worth from. We’re going to continue to work with Steve and the bright, energetic people that are on his team.

Jim Winter

COO, Dimension Design
David Sank
I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that is intent on enhancing their customer experience. Prior to working with Steve, we were communicating various messages to customers. Steve and his team helped us achieve a cohesive brand message that we as a company live daily. Steve is an incredible listener and learned the nuances of our business rapidly. I can’t imagine anyone Yastrow and Company couldn’t help.

David Sank

President and CEO, Calico Cottage
Jennifer Whelan
“Steve’s workshops helped bring out what is best at Acuative. His insights were fresh and long-lasting—we continue to use his tools and approach years later.”

Jennifer Whelan

Vice President of Marketing, Acuative
Tom Peters
When Steve Yastrow writes, I pay close attention.

Tom Peters

Founder, Tom Peters Company
roma-maxwell
Rancho La Puerta has enjoyed continued success because of the work we did with Yastrow and Company. Together, we implemented business strategies that have contributed to our success. Steve and his team truly believe in our brand, and our experience with them was empowering, fun and a great learning opportunity. I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that needs help building the bottom line

Roma Maxwell

Roma Maxwell, Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Rhoda Olsen
Steve Yastrow has clearly described the emotional reality of customer relationships and their impact on profitable business growth.

Rhoda Olsen

President, Great Clips for Hair
roma-maxwell
I give Steve two thumbs up—five thumbs up, if I had that many!

Roma Maxwell

Roma Maxwell, Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Jennifer Whelan
Our work with Yastrow and Company yielded the best long-term value of any consulting engagement we’ve ever had. As we grow and expand internationally, Acuative continues to depend on the branding approach and marketing tools Steve and his team developed. Yastrow and Company genuinely partnered with us, were exceptionally responsive and remain committed to our success.

Jennifer Whelan

Vice President of Marketing, Acuative