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Sowing the Seeds of Growth in Your Conflict Training Practice

There’s an old sales adage that say good salesmen get excited when they make the first sale, but great salesmen work for the third one.

Ok, I hear you saying, “but I’m a mediator not a salesperson.”  Ah, wrong.  Before you can rid the world of faulty communication you first have to convince someone to try collaboration in general, and mediation, in particular.   As as they say in corporate America, you gotta get buy-in.  That’s making a sale.

Where most small business people fail, especially mediators and ADR types, is that we assume the first sale will lead to other sales.  You know, we assume that if we do a good job on the first gig, the client will, of course, think of us for other conflict needs they have in the future.

Not necessarily so, my friends.  We’ve all probably experienced a time or two when the gig went great but there wasn’t more work that followed .  I know I have.  When I realized what was wrong I began to ’seed my future’ with clients.

Growing Your Engagements

Seeding your future is simply a way of asking the prospective client to imagine the work you could do together.  Not just the first gig, but the third and beyond.  For example…

Imagine a prospective client asks you to design a training agenda and deliver the session.  After you determine you want this gig and it fits into your overall strategy, you could suggest any of the items below as ‘follow on’ work:

  1. Developing a checklist for trainees about diagnosing conflict
  2. Write an article for their newsletter or intranet
  3. Design a series of teleseminars on a similar topic
  4. Coaching for those trainees who want or need individual attention
  5. Establish an ongoing partnership to train, coach or do mediations

You don’t want to overwhelm your client so don’t mention all these initiatives at once.  Simply plant the seed that after this work there’s an opportunity to maximize their investment and support the transfer of knowledge by continuing to work with you.

Clients Don’t Know Your Range

Because the truth of the matter is that the client is not thinking that far ahead.  They are most interested in addressing the immediate issue, whether that’s a training or a live dispute.  You need to set the expectation in a friendly way that your relationship can be ongoing ( so long as everyone, including you, is satisfied) and that you have a vision for doing the work.     Seeding works.  It’s helped me extend many a contract.

Also, it helps your client understand the range of conflict work that you’re capable of performing.  If you enter the relationship as a mediator, the client doesn’t know you can also conflict coach or train if you don’t tell them explicitly.  (No, they did not fully read your materals or website)  You have to be proactive.

Try seeding and let me know how it works for you. Already my mentees are saying they like this tactic because it relieves the pressure to ask for more work.


As you know October 16th we celebrate conflict resolution.   To add to the party, I’m hosting a free teleseminar that day entitled:  A Mini-website: Mediation Marketing Secret Weapon.  You’ve heard me rant how important it is to have a web presence.  Attend and hear Healther Coleman of Custom Design Graphics share her insights about what it is and why it works so well.  And, hey, if you have questions, send them to me   See you then.


Dina Beach Lynch

Dina Beach Lynch is a Workplace Mediator and Conflict Coach who supports professional practice groups. MORE >

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