“There is a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot“
If I wanted to catch fish what would be the best way to go about it? I can pick a spot at random, let my line down with a cheap ol bait that I bought on special and then hope for the best.
Am I going to catch fish this way? Maybe. Is this a sound plan? Certainly not! Unless I’m a firm believer in luck this strategy often results in frustration than anything else.
A better plan would have the following checklist:
- Determine what kind of fish I want to catch
- Figure out where the fish hang out
- Get the right bait
- Get the right rig
- Find the best time of the day
Of course this assumes I know how to use the gear and hardware. Heck this is almost exactly what I would do for targeted marketing except instead of fish I’m after customers. If you really want to bring home a good catch, you need to do your research. Don’t just tell your salesman to go out and get some customers. What’s an example of that you ask?
To reel in customers, follow these steps:
- What kind of target customer are you going after?
- What are their needs and interests?
- Where do they tend to hang out?
- What stage of the buying journey are they in?
What kind of customers are your going after?
I’m in the B2B niche industries. So customers that I go after are across a broad spectrum of industries like medical devices, contract manufacturers, industrial and electronic companies. Each of these industries have their own unique attributes, lingo, pain points, and needs. By learning and being in tune with the specifics of each industry I can tailor my approach. The lesson is do the homework to learn about your customers before you go fishing.
What are your customer’s interests and needs?
When I first started out, I thought everyone had similar needs. Sometimes in my haste, I thought I knew their needs better than they did. Then I realized each industry had its own unique pain points. Yes needs are similar at a high level but different enough to require us to do drill down to find the specifics. In Spin Selling there is an entire process and skill set for determining needs. Most people want to ‘save money’ but that by itself is not enough information to make a purchase decision. Where do they want to save money? How much are things costing them now? What kinds of things have they tried to lower costs. Those needs often show up in the form of product quality or manufacturing cost over runs pushing companies to continuously look for solutions that lower costs and increase quality. By discovering explicit and implicit needs I can deliver a tailored solution. This requires research, good sales skill, and sufficient interaction to build trust. Lesson here is don’t tell your salesman who sells computer networking hardware to now go out and start selling software.
Where do they tend to hang out?
Honestly this can be one of the toughest parts of sales depending on your industry. The prospects that I work with often do not go to networking meetings and they do not ‘hang out’ as much. One of the best places where I can meet my target customers is in trade shows or in a one-on-one settings. In general decision makers may hang out in conferences, trade associations, shows, social media, etc. Lesson here is find the best place where you can find your prospects and hang out there.
What stage of the buying journey are they in?
In B2B sales of high ticket products and services the sales cycle is long. It can take 6 months to a year or longer to close deals. If I am working with a prospect that is in the discovery phase it could take at least a year to close a deal. Yet I may come across an opportunity where my prospect has already narrowed down her list of potential vendors and is ready to make a decision. Regardless of your industry if you can understand where they are in their buying journey, you can fine tune your marketing to increase the effectiveness of your results. Lesson here is be prepared to be patient.
Understanding the buyer persona and practicing patience are 2 of the toughest parts of sales and marketing. When I first started in this business my patience was very short. I wanted results fast. Even an expert fisherman needs patience to catch the right fish. Your sales and marketing team is the main driver for figuring this stuff not your engineers. If you have been in business for a while take a look at some of your best customers. Start by describing some of the common attributes of these customers like their company size, industry, type of problems or needs. Use these attributes as models to better understand your ideal customer.
Practicing patience is a required skill in fishing as much as it is in marketing. Chances are you’ve become a lot more patient than when you first started.
You’d say, hey there is more to fishing than just a few bullet points. You’d tell me a good fisherman “knows” his fish. He can sort of “sense” where and when to throw the line. I’d say I agree some. There is a knowing that comes with experience and talent that can pivot you to become the best in your field. But that does not mean we can bypass the basics.
In conclusion, marketing as in fishing requires us to practice good common sense, strategy, and patience to catch the big fish.
If you like this blog post and find it valuable please do me a favor and share it with your network and on social media. For any additional information about sales pipeline development and workflow productivity to close more deals contact me here.
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