The Value of our Sales Time (Issue 964)

In which we are reminded that not all opportunities are worth the effort to land them.

“Leave it. It’s not our job to fix it.”

My wife and I live in a house to one side of which is a 58-unit, five-story apartment building built in 1900 and converted to condos several decades ago. We were standing on the sidewalk, in front of our house, looking at the condo building’s flower beds that face the street and the side of our house. The edge-burned leaves on a waist-high rhododendron were tightly curled. The hydrangeas were pathetically drooping. About half of the ground cover was brown.

“They could really use a drink, particularly the rhody.”

“Leave it,” she said. “They have a sprinkler system. It’s not working. The unit owners walk by this every day. I’ve done enough for those people. It’s not our job to fix it.”

Regrettably, that’s true and there’s a several-year history of neglect. For example, they had a beautiful (when we moved in five years ago) weeping cherry tree. They ignored it. It slowly declined and, this spring, died. At the request of one of the condo unit owners with whom we’ve become friendly, my wife, whose steady efforts over five years transformed our flower beds to the extent that people stop to take pictures, early this summer deployed our tree guy to remove the dead weeping cherry tree (somehow, the condo association paid). At the same unit owner’s request, my wife chose and planted a small shrub in its place. Nobody watered it. It died in a week. There’s more and you get the idea.

Our efforts to meet condo association board members to discuss landscaping and other common concerns have failed. The association board members seem diffused, their meeting schedules and priorities remain mysteries. They are allowing their investments in once beautiful landscaping to wither.

We could approach this like any other large, multi-decision maker account in which we see potential value in change. We could use documents at the Registry of Deeds to identify association board members. We could write letters or emails inviting them to meet with us to discuss landscaping – the opportunities for improvement and the benefits (to building appearance, neighborhood aesthetics, resident satisfaction, and, potentially, board members’ condo unit values) of prioritizing those opportunities. We could engage unit owners as they enter or leave the building to rally support for a more verdant approach.

While we would enjoy their refreshed landscaping and while my wife (in particular) and I see the opportunity and the benefits (to them) of change, the question is: Is the value to be gained by “our organization” enough for us to invest significant time in “their organization” identifying decision makers, setting up meetings, making presentations, facilitating discussions, stimulating awareness and interest, and selling “their organization” on the value of change.

No, it’s not…. Our time would be better spent elsewhere, but I’m adopting the toasted rhody as a hobby project.

Nick Miller trains banks and bankers to sell to small businesses. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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