From the May 2005 issue of Entrepreneur

In the South, the month of May means serious gardening. Sergio Zyman, former Coca-Cola chief marketing officer and co-author of Renovate Before You Innovate, believes companies must cultivate better relationships and renovate the roles they play in their customers' growth. In gardening terms: Grow your customer's business, and your own garden will grow.

To help your customers grow, become a catalyzing agent. Share leads, forge profitable partnerships among them, and actively demonstrate concern for their interests. Here are three tips for aspiring customer-horticulturists:

1. Read Selling Is Dead, a manifesto for reinventing sales by Marc Miller and Jason Sinkovitz, set to be published this month. Growth-motivated companies must change to remain competitive.

2. Aerate your sales-lead generation and remove weeds. Sell, tell and qualify less--and customize your interactions and dialogue. Zapdata.com's prospect lists help you focus on the types of businesses that buy your products and services and cater your approach to their needs.

3. Try out LexisNexis AlaCarte, a new service expressly for small-business owners that offers business insight and industry analysis.


Kirsten Osolind is CEO and founder of re:invention inc., a Chicago-based marketing consulting company.