Right place, right bait—and you’ve got a sale

Selling is a lot like fishing. To be successful, you have to know where to dangle your line and what type of bait your intended “fish” is looking for.

A couple of years ago, my son gave me a popular Christmas gift called a “fish finder.” This inexpensive gadget rigged onto your fishing line and came with a “wristwatch” that indicated with blips where the fish were as you reeled your cast in.

We excitedly headed to Aurora Reservoir to try our luck the following spring. There were already a group of hopeful fishermen there,  and of course, I asked how they were doing. When you ask a fisherman questions like “How are they biting?” “Have you caught anything?” “What bait are you using?” you’re never sure if you will get a straight answer. After all, they don’t want to give up their secrets, especially if they are doing well (know any salespeople like that?).

The answers were mixed – a couple of bites here and there, a fish caught on the other side — basically a pretty slow morning.

As we prepared the fish finder, we noticed all of the fishermen were sending their casts about 30 yards out. Repeatedly, their lines returned empty. After a couple of our own casts, my son noticed that all of the fish were hanging around an area only about 15 feet from shore. Testing the waters, so to speak, we cast out about 15 feet and – bam! We each hooked two beautiful trout.

It didn’t take long for the surrounding fishermen to start asking US what we were using. We were using the same bait as they were. We casted again and again and had our limit in 15 minutes.
We continued to fish and threw at least twenty more fish back over the next forty-five minutes. When we decided that we had fished enough, we gathered our gear and headed to the car. There was a mad dash to our fishing spot.

We watched to see how they did in our old spot. Nothing. They knew we had a good spot but were not observant enough to realize that we were only 15 feet out. They continued to cast 30 yards into the lake as they had before, unwilling to make the proper adjustments to be successful.

Successful selling requires making adjustments when necessary — not just repeating the same process over and over, expecting different results.

You’ve got to know where the customers are. Part of the pleasure of fishing is studying the area you fish in. Learning the habitat, the inlets, holes, logs and other areas where the fish like to hang out is part of the process. It is no different for the sales professional. Successful sales are lead by intensive research. Use technology, ask questions, study the “selling” ground.

 Just like the fishermen who failed to realize the fish were only 15 feet out, rather than the 30 feet where they were casting, sales professionals have to realize that they may need to “tweak” their methods of sales.

When it comes to fishing, you have to understand air and water temperature, the time of day and how fish react during the weather seasons. The same holds true for potential clients. Knowing their buying triggers, the best time to call and when the best time to prospect them are not only important, but essential for the sales professional.

Alaskan King Salmon have only one thing on their minds when migrating to their spawning ground. To get a King to bite your hook, you have to distract it, get something that interrupts its mission of spawning and go after your hook. The lure that you use has to be the right shape, color and size.

Using the right marketing techniques to interrupt the client to listen or read your pitch is equally as important in today’s marketplace. As little as one to three seconds is all that you have to capture a prospects attention on your website and marketing piece. Analyze marketing pieces: are they the right color, does the writing capture and hold the prospect to want to learn more about you and what you have to offer?

Know when to set the hook. You know the locations, and the weather is good. You have the right tackle and you’ve worked on your technique. The same is true in selling. You’ve spent time scoping out your prospects, the timing is right to contact them and you’ve practiced your scripts and dialogs and have the documents in hand to close the deal. Now, do you know when to set the hook? Do you set the hook as soon as you feel anything different on the line? Do you set it hard or just a quick wrist movement?

The same holds true in how you close the client. In most cases strong arming never works but a flick of the wrist 99 percent of the time is all you need to do.

Always try to land a bigger fish with a net. If you don’t get it the first time, re-aim and try again. The same holds true with bigger accounts. You have to have a value proposition to land them and it might take a few attempts to bring in the better account. Patience and persistence will help you land the best accounts. The more you fish, the more chances of catching a big fish. The same holds true with the prospecting. The more you prospect, the better the chances that a big account will come swimming in front of you. Hook it and hang on.

Fishing is fun, but you get stumped once in awhile. Somehow, fishermen always go back for more, knowing that the next time they will get the “big” one. That same persistence should be established in sales. Fishermen continually use persistence, changing the bait, looking at new lures and always trying again. They will read magazines and watch fishing shows.

Shouldn’t sale professionals do the same? Persistence, new techniques, looking at advanced technology, invest in coaching, try new products. Selling is not about shortcuts — it’s the process to getting there!

Cast your line upon the waters — the fish are waiting.
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Categories: Sales & Marketing