Selling is often compared to many activities. But the longer I’m in sales, I’ve come to realize that selling is a lot like fishing. It takes the right equipment, a solid plan, and the right bait. In this article, we outline how you can improve your sales results by applying the best practices of experienced fishermen.
The number one rule of fishing is fish where the fish are. When you are new to fishing it can be a challenge to find the fish. With experience, you learn the secret fishing holes and which bait worked with a particular fish. When sales reps are early in their sales careers, it can be a challenge to connect with the right prospects. They will contact anyone at any company, hoping for someone to talk to. With experience, you start to see patterns where your best customers originate from. You then start tailoring your outreach to those high-value prospects. Like fishing, with sales experience, you learn to give yourself the best opportunity for success.
The Right Tools For the Job
After you figure out where the fish are, the next step is to make sure you have the right equipment. If you want to catch fish, you need some basic tools like bait, hooks, line, and a fishing pole. As you get more sophisticated you upgrade your equipment to include boats, fish finders, and GPS systems. Sure, you could catch fish without all this equipment, you just would not catch as many, as often. The right equipment in fishing makes you more efficient.
Selling works best when using the right tools for the job. Today, we have a variety of tools to help target the right prospects. Using data to make better decisions on who to contact can be the difference between winning and losing a client. Time is such a precious commodity in sales, we can’t waste it chasing after the wrong clients. As an example, having the CRM set up with a lead scoring system and having automated tasks that promote the next right activity ensures your team will not miss out on an important opportunity.
With today’s sales enablement technology, sellers have access to more tools than ever before. Deciding on which is best for your sales environment can be a challenge. A good place to start is with a CRM, a contact database, and productivity or automation tools. Next, you might benefit from an e-signature tool that makes it easy for clients to sign on the dotted line. Another favorite is an automated calendar that schedules meetings without the tiring back and forth. With the right tools, sales reps can be more efficient and productive.
In addition, you must understand your client’s problems better than they do and the impact of those problems. Clients won’t have time to listen to how your solution can help them until they realize they have a problem worth solving. Then you can position your solution as it relates to their problem. Creating awareness of needs is the bait that attracts the best prospects.
Create a Plan
Step two, have the right plan. Novice fishermen fish whenever they have time. Serious anglers follow the tides, weather, and seasons, to optimize their chances of success. Veteran fishermen know different species are caught in different seasons. They also track tides and water temperatures because they realize the impact conditions have on their results. Timing is critical. Maximizing your chance of success in fishing requires forethought and planning.
Having a detailed sales process is one of the greatest differentiators between high achievers and average performers. An experienced sales manager understands no detail is too small. Winning high-value clients requires following a sales process that is well planned for in advance. Prospects rarely become clients by accident. Having a detailed sales process optimized for volume and velocity is key.
Part of your process should include a strict prospect qualification criteria. Failing to qualify prospects properly can be one of the most severe problems in sales performance results. Think of it this way – would you rather spend all day going after five minnows with the wrong bait or one trophy marlin with the right approach? The minnows may be everywhere, but the marlin is what you are set up to catch. Creating a detailed prospect qualification criteria and then targeting look-a-like prospects is an important step in any sales process.
Experienced fishermen also understand the fish are getting smarter. Back in the day, it sure seemed easier to catch fish, maybe because there were more fish. Back then, there were times it felt like I was fishing in a bathtub. Today, it’s not as easy. It seems the fish are getting smarter. That is why experienced fisherman are constantly testing new tactics, baits, and fishing spots. They know if they keep doing things the old way, fishing will not get easier.
In sales, today’s decision-makers certainly are getting smarter. They have access to more information than ever and the internet has made buyers smarter. This means as sellers, we need to research our prospects thoroughly. We must understand what problems they have and how our solution can benefit them. We also have to understand their buying criteria and that they need to get approval for our solution to be adopted.
Set Your Sales Team Up For Success
Step three, use the right bait. To catch fish, you need bait to get their attention. If you want to catch a shark, you won’t have success with an artificial lure. The more options you have, the bigger variety of fish you can catch. If your only bait is bread crumbs, don’t expect to catch a grouper. Certain species of fish respond differently to different bait and understanding the fish’s tendencies and preferences is something learned from experience.
To capture your buyer’s attention today, you need a variety of sales tactics. You wouldn’t give the phone to someone and say, “go get us some new clients.” That’s like giving a fishing rod to someone who’s never fished and saying, “good luck.” Successful selling in today’s complex environment requires training with a variety of tactics. Training on virtual selling, social selling, and consultative selling are skills all sales teams can practice to improve. Unfortunately, the only training some sales reps get is with real sales activities. It’s not the ideal place to practice.
With the right equipment, process, and knowledge, your sales team can become a high-performing fishing machine – filling the boat, quarter after quarter, year after year. But fishing analogies aside, good selling takes hard work and commitment. As a wise old fisherman once said, there’s a reason it’s called fishing, not catching.
We hope you agree with our idea that the skills required in selling are a lot like fishing. When you are thinking about a way to create more sales opportunities in your organization, remember these lessons from fishing. If you would like to learn how we help our clients land their trophy catches, don’t hesitate to contact us here.