Last week I had a business coaching session with my long-time client Jenny, who owns Green in Bloom here in Portland, OR. She’s an event florist, and the “wedding floral design” side of her business is thriving. She does have one major concern, though: She’s been struggling for almost a year to make a connection with her ideal clients and build the “everyday flowers” part of her business.
When we reviewed her monthly, bi-weekly, and weekly standing orders, the numbers just didn’t add up. Sure, those clients also provided a fair amount of large floral orders for random events, but those random events don’t occur on a regular enough schedule for her to rely on them as a source of business-sustaining income.
Find the client connection for new and better income
Her accountant was telling her that providing “everyday flowers” wasn’t a viable business operation. He suggested that she discontinue offering this service.
I asked if she felt she had done everything possible to build it before considering shutting it down. She answered that she didn’t feel like she had, but wasn’t sure how to move forward.
It’s important to know the whole situation, so I asked, “What else is causing you stress?”
The pain points
Some of her pain points include:
- Distance from nearest major city — deliveries take up several hours. However, she isn’t making enough to expand into having a driver make deliveries for her.
- Distance from the flower market — she lives south of the city of Portland. The floral market she purchases from is on the north side of the city.
- She doesn’t have enough new clients placing one-off or standing orders.
- There isn’t enough to time to do everything creating additional stress.
- She doesn’t have enough regular orders that can reduce the number of times she can visit the flower market.
- Some long-time clients place regular small orders, almost not worth the delivery time and effort, but she feels obligated to continue.
There are a few factors that can’t be changed. She works out of her house, and moving isn’t an option. So, the issues of delivery time and flower purchasing travel are going to continue to be an issue.
What else can we address?
Looking at this list, we know that the ideal situation is to have more regular orders. More orders that are delivered on a weekly or bi-weekly basis would allow her to build a better schedule. Ideally, she could purchase flowers and make deliveries on specific days. Not only would there be an influx of new income, her time would free up. More time would alleviate some of her stress.
What is she doing to make a connection with new clients?
Jenny belongs to a few local business groups where individuals connect, get to know each other, and refer business within the group. A network is an excellent source of referrals, but depending on the network, a florist might not come up often enough for people to remember to refer you. Belonging to more than one networking or business group is important — don’t put all your referral eggs in one basket!
Look for wedding-related business groups, preferably the small groups that have only one of each type of wedding vendor.
Since I know Jenny would prefer to stay close to home — she’s 25 minutes south of the city, after all — I asked if she had approached any local businesses about ordering flowers. She admitted that she hadn’t done a lot of cold-calling, as she found it hard to “pitch” to people — or, as we call it the “sales hustle.”
There’s a better way.
Cold-calling isn’t really anyone’s cup of tea. Unless you’re the extroverted, attention-seeking type, it’s a source of stress — nearly as stressful as public speaking!
My suggestion for Jenny was simple: Ask for the connection, not the sale.
Let me take a moment to add an aside here: My business strategy is to provide help, resources, and guidance for FREE. IF — and only if — you find value in what I do, and it suits your current business needs, we may work together with one-on-one strategy and mentoring sessions. You may never end up needing my help, but I still want to give you help and resources for free.
I am here primarily to support you and to help you.
I’m here to CONNECT with you.
By suggesting that Jenny ask for the connection and not the sale, it takes the “sales hustle stress” out of the equation. The best way to get that connection is to provide something of value.
What can Jenny do?
I suggested that Jenny use a few extra blooms from one of her orders to create an additional small arrangement each week. Deliver it to a business in the downtown area of Oregon City, where she lives. It can be as simple as saying:
“I’m Jenny with Green in Bloom, and I just wanted to connect with other local businesses. I brought you this arrangement and I hope you’ll enjoy it.”
She could also say that she’d be interested in referring them to customers, or just take their card. Most importantly, though, is what she needs to say before she leaves:
“Do you mind if I come back next Monday to pick up the vase?”
This is my favorite part of the entire interaction. Do you know why?
Ask for the Connection
When you sign up for a free gift or an email opt-in, you get an email asking you to confirm your subscription. It’s asking you to say “Yes, I want you and your emails in my inbox.”
Asking the business owner for permission to come back to pick up the vase is like getting that double opt-in. Yes, they’ll say, of course, you can come pick up the vase.
You’re not asking for the sale, you’re asking for the connection.
The following Monday, when Jenny goes to pick up the vase, I encouraged her to say “I hope you enjoyed these flowers as much as I enjoyed creating the arrangement for you. Here is my business card. I make deliveries here in town every Monday. I’d love to deliver flowers to you as often as you prefer.”
Then wait, allowing them to respond. Don’t just turn to leave because it feels weird! You don’t have to be an extrovert, you just need to have some patience.
Waiting for a moment gives them the chance to compliment her flowers or whatever. The pause makes them feel as if they should say something. Hopefully, it’s to say that they’d love to have her flowers delivered every week!
If they don’t have a definite answer about her services, that’s okay. She has provided tangible value and yet still has not explicitly asked for a sale. She’ll have left a genuine and positive impact — which is a great memory to leave with any potential future client!
Lastly, before she leaves, I suggested that she say “Thank you for letting me brighten your office for a few days. I really enjoyed connecting with you. Please keep in touch!”
Jenny put this advice into effect the next day! I got this email from her:
“Hi Maigen! I’m in a newly opened coffee shop and I took your advice. I spoke with the owner about bringing in a flower arrangement! She was nice so I’m going to do it tomorrow. I’m so glad I asked! It was a huge confidence boost! It was way less stressful than trying to ask if they wanted to buy flowers right away!”
- Make a list of businesses in your area that your services or products can serve, even tangentially. It doesn’t matter how long the list is — if you can only come up with three, that’s a great start.
- Make a commitment to visit at least one of them THIS WEEK.
- Bring something tangible. A plate of cookies or a small flower arrangement is a great idea. Make sure the plate or vase is clearly not disposable.
ASK FOR THE CONNECTION!
Modify the suggested conversations I gave to Jenny above. Make them suit your personality and company, making sure to say you’ll visit again in a week. Make an appointment, if necessary.
Add a calendar entry to go pick up the vase or plate. When you do, make sure to reiterate how lovely it was to connect. Leave your business card.
Get out there — you got this! Let me know your results in the comments below!