The Quality of the Sales-Ready Lead?

I’ve been guilty of doing way too much spearfishing in my career. But, my God, does it work! You draw up a list of the tastiest accounts you’d like to have, the ones that have it all: marquee value, deep pockets, they align with what you know makes a happy, long-term, reference account, etc… and then you devote concentrated, intense effort at finding the champions within that account who will carry your fire to the altar of conjugal bliss.

It can work, and it feels so damn good when you score the Big Kahuna. And it can also take years and eat up so much energy and focus that it excludes doing the equally valuable fishing by net. Truth be told, I’ve pooh-poohed that approach. You know the method I’m talking about: where you send out a broad message, spit out a lot of email, caring less about targeting specific accounts and more about getting a compelling message out into the market. You sit back and let the seeds germinate, watch as the hits on your website or click-throughs add up, you capture names of suspects, nurture them with increasingly targeted and focused communication, and watch as those who were interested slowly filter down through the system, qualifying a bit more at each step, until it’s ready to yank the spear fisher off the deck and point them at the now auto-warmed lead. I’ve been a blockhead for years, shunning these efforts as inefficient.

Yes, they can result in sales, sometimes rather easy sales, but often you get who you don’t really want, who don’t truly line up with the attributes of what makes a good client and, while remuneratively satisfying, they can also result in short-lived engagements and bad feelings. But what of that? I remember Bruce Springsteen singing, “Let the broken hearts stand as the price you gotta pay.”

Not all relationships result in those 42-year marriages. Or, or put it more crudely, I recall the wisdom of Van Halen’s lead singer, David Lee Roth, who opined about living a lifestyle awash in groupies, “I don’t get all the girls, but I get all the girls who want me.” If they life you, who are you to turn away their affection, their dollars, their potentially unsatisfying engagements? We’re all consenting adults here. In fact, I’ve found that I’ve become increasingly candid in my own selling. I spew the caveat emptor message throughout the sales process. I explain why engagements go bad. Why some have had costly, unsatisfying experiences.

Why our service isn’t for everybody. And if they still buy after that? I have to admit that just as often that big, juicy account that I stalked and romanced and speared doesn’t always work out either. Stop coming up with reasons why such-and-such a sales method is right. Pick up the phone and sell something. Sometimes you’ll find a beautiful relationship.