There is a man on his hands and knees underneath a street light. He is searching for something he’s lost. A police officer walks by and asks the man what it is he is searching for, and the man answers, “My keys. I’ve lost my keys.” The police officer joins the man in looking for the keys, and asks, “Do you remember where you dropped them?” The man, still on his hands and knees searching, says, “Yes. I dropped them in the alley over there.” The police officer asks, “Why, then, are you looking for them here,” to which the man who has lost his keys replies, “Because the light is better over here.”
There is a difference between targets and leads, targets being far more valuable. Much like the man who has lost his keys, some salespeople (and whole sales organizations, as it turns out) believe that, because they can see the lead, because they have contact information, and because the lead has taken some small, mostly meaningless action that can be measured (read, download), it is better than a cold target. Because a lead is visible, it appears easier than cold targets.
No Interest. High Value.
A strategic, cold target isn’t easily obtained, just like the keys. The circumstances appear more difficult. Your cold target already has a partner that provides what you propose to provide. The contacts are tougher to reach and are reluctant to schedule a meeting with a salesperson. Creating and winning an opportunity requires that one nurture relationships over time and create value compelling enough for the contacts within the account to consider doing something different. More still, a lot of people within the company have no real interest in changing at all.
But for many in sales, the cold strategic targets are necessary to reaching their goals. Even if you have to look in the dark alley instead of under the street light.
Your dream clients, the ones for whom you can create massive value, and in doing so, transform your results and your company, are known to you. You know where they are, and you know they will be more difficult to win. As difficult as it might be, it’s still easier than believing that leads are a better strategy—even if they are easier to see under the street light.