Imagine you’re a fisherman looking for a fish to catch, but a very special kind of fish for your aquarium. That fish is your lead—and in order to catch it, you’re going to have to follow a specific procedure which can be compared to your sales steps.
1. Create some criteria. You need to know what your fish looks like! The process of examination and adding the criteria represents your sales pipeline strategy. You must be able to recognize the fish when you see it. This will tell you what to look for.
2. Find info. At the beginning, you will have very little information about the fish you’d like to catch. Start to examine your fish, learning and gathering info about it’s habits, habitat, or food it likes.
3. Explore the sea. There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but you want to find the right one. Based on your criteria and the information you have gathered, you need to go where your special fish swims. That could be events or online networking sites.
4. Finding the fish. It is unlikely that your target fish will be the first one that swims by. It takes a long time and perseverance to catch the fish that meets the criteria.
5. Catching the fish. Finally you catch it! But beware—it can still slip away as a lost opportunity. You need to be careful and sensitive to how this particular fish behaves. Reel it in carefully—and here it is! You caught it! It is ready to be put in your aquarium and grow your collection.
So what’s the difference between a lead and opportunity?
A lead is simply a contact or an account with very little information. It could be just a person you met at a conference, or somebody who asked you a question on your blog. They are just somebody who has hinted that they have a problem you can solve. Right now, you have not established whether they want you to solve it.
An opportunity is a contact or an account who has shown enough interest to explore working with you. You have already contacted, called or met them and are digging into their specific needs or requirements.
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