Chasing sales leads is a bit like trying to catch a horse that has already bolted.

The similarities lie in that the horse already has a fixed destination in mind,  It is moving at speed and generally reluctant to have its course changed.  The only benefit of chasing a sales lead over catching a bolting horse is that you are unlikely to get kicked when you get to close (other than the occasional fly in the ear you may get from HR or procurement!)

So what are the keys to successful horse catching or lead chasing?

1.  Get the attention of the horse without getting run over!  Standing in front of the horse and demanding to be listened to is likely to get you hurt, so your approach needs to be more subtle.  Gain their attention by running in the same direction as them side-by-side, showing you are not a threat to their current decision making.  In real life this amounts to saying “Hi, if your current plan does not work out there are contingency plans available here!”

2.  Show there are better options available. After a while riding side-by-side you will start to learn where the horse is heading.  It is safe to assume that your horse is motivated by food, water and a warm place to sleep. Just as in real life clients are motivated by the best solution to their problem.  Highlight some of your features and the benefits of why your solution is better.  Couch it in a approach that says “you want to check out all the best options available don’t you?”  

3. Track the horse to it’s destination. This is where most horse catchers / lead chasers fail. A significant number of clients along their purchasing process feel they are not getting what they need, just as bolting horses will often run out of steam before they get to where they are going .  However by that point 99% of those chasing them early in the process are no longer in contact. Those that have stayed and offered alternative solutions will generally have an open minded client ready to listen……..

And if they get to where they are going? . .  Well hopefully you have shown that you care as much about them and their problems by staying the course and the next time they bolt they may well be running to you.  

Three questions for sales professionals to ask themselves

– How do I organise my sales leads so I can stick with them until they reach their destination? – How compelling is my alternative solution to their current solution? – What can I do over the lead chasing process to ensure I get a call next time?

Three questions for sales leaders 
– How effective are your team at organising their sales leads in one place? – How do you support your team to offer a compelling alternative? – How do you hold them accountable for following the lead to its conclusion rather that one call and done?