Attracting the wrong kind of clients to your business is like dumping trash in your sales funnel. A full funnel is only valuable if it’s filled with the kind of clients that are right for you.
There’s so much that’s wrong about the traditional sales funnel, and it’s gotten worse in the Sales 2.0 world. In the past, we were schooled to throw as much stuff in the funnel as we could find-so-called leads from mailings, trade shows, advertising, networking, and newsletters. Now add to that so-called sales leads from blogging, videos, eBooks, free reports, social networks, press releases, eZines, affiliate traffic, RSS feeds, and email lists. We now have this fabulous opportunity to waste our time by following up on these so-called sales leads.
“So-called” because these aren’t really sales leads. They’re inquiries, possibly names-or people just interested in free stuff. Everyone likes free stuff. If we take the time to weed through all this trash, we might actually find a prospect. Some people call this “permission marketing.” This is just a prospecting system, not successful lead generation.
Picture your sales funnel stuffed with weeds, rocks, and sand. These will clog the opening and prevent a steady flow of good business. Try pouring water into a funnel that is filled with debris. The water backs up and nothing moves through. Not a pleasing picture, and not functional business model.
Change the Conversation
We have to change how we talk about sales leads. Inquiries are not leads, people wanting free stuff are not leads, neither are those “coveted” lists or files of names. Calling these sales leads borders on insulting. Leads are people who are truly interested in talking to you about your product or service. They match the profile of your ideal client, they have budget, they have a need, and they are open to pursuing how you can help grow their business.
A sales lead is someone who matches my ideal client profile. It is then easy for me to qualify them based on additional criteria. I’m not just splitting hairs over terminology. It is downright misrepresentation when companies position themselves as lead-generation experts. It sounds so good (so easy), so we jump-and that’s when we get our sales funnel clogged with trash.
Are you attracting clients your business doesn’t want?
In presentations to sales execs from hundreds of companies, Barry Trailer of CSO Insights has made the following bet: “I’ll bet you my house, right now you’ve got good people working hard trying to get business you don’t want.” So far, he’s been able to keep his house. “Would you be willing to bet your house that your company is not trying to attract poorly qualified prospects and are your reps wasting their precious selling time pursuing so-called “leads?”
Think about it: What’s in your sales funnel?