Low-Hanging Fruit, “Operation Bounty” and the Problem with Having Too Many Orchard Crates

Posted by Nancy Nardin on May 2, 2011 10:00:00 AM

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Today we're honored to have guest blogger Nancy Nardin share her thoughts on delivering the 'right' leads to sales. Nancy is Founder and CEO of Smart Selling Tools, a leading online marketplace that helps connect Sales professionals with the right Sales Software vendors.

Ripe Sales LeadsThe ideal situation for a sales organization is to have enough “ripe” opportunities hanging on the tree-of-prospects to simply pick the low-hanging fruit first.

No need to fetch a ladder and climb to the top when there is plenty of fruit within reach.

Call it laziness if you will (and many sales managers do), but going after the low-hanging fruit first just makes a heck-of-a lot of sense.

Most sales organizations don’t have the good fortune of plentiful deals ripe for the pickin’. So Marketers set to work finding and delivering the fruit to them.

In the beginning, Marketing is able to harvest and deliver crate after crate of ripe juicy fruit. Wahoo! Times are good and the sun is shining—until you hear the faint rumbling of a tractor-trailer in the distance. There is a clunk-clunk-clunk as it gets closer, then a scree-eee-ch as the trailer downshifts and comes to a stop. A competitor has arrived and they unload their own hardy crew outfitted with the latest in crate technology. And they’re headed for your trees!

Marketing has to act fast.

With the tools and money at their disposal, they work harder and longer than ever before. They must get to the fruit before your competitors do. They realize they can’t be as picky as before. Time is of the essence.

Somehow, they’re able to keep filling crates of fruit for processing.

But you begin to notice something: Much of the fruit was picked too soon. You’ll have to wait until it ripens before it can be processed. And much of the fruit is darn-right mushy. It was picked too late!

Something must be done to turn the situation around. You call a meeting with Marketing. “You must get us more fruit!” you demand. “We don’t have enough to meet our sales goals.”

Marketing understands the significance of your request. And they quickly come up with “Operation Bounty.” This, they agree, will allow them to meet Sales’ demand for more fruit. They work through the night. And indeed, when you arrive in the morning you’re stunned by what you see. Rows of crate after crate stacked 10 high—all seemingly filled with glorious fruit.

Where to start?

It’s a problem everyone wishes for. Obviously you can’t start with a crate from the bottom row—or any row in the middle. No, you have to start with crates on the top and work your way down.

Segmented Sales LeadsWith great excitement, you and others on the sales team begin “working” the crates. One-by-one, crates are pulled down and emptied onto a platform for sorting. You’re looking for the best specimens. There’s one! There’s another! You snatch each piece of perfect fruit and let the rest tumble their way down to the reject pile.

The top row of crates was full of ripe fruit. But it took a lot of time to sort and by the time you get to the second row, you notice the crates contain far fewer perfectly ripe fruit.

The process of sorting ripe from under-ripe and over-ripe fruit takes too long. And the fruit—perfectly ripe when placed in the first crates—spoils before you can get to it.

If only you didn’t have to sort through the crates row by row. If somehow it were possible to sort all crates simultaneously, you might’ve found every piece of deliciously ripe fruit before it spoiled.

With a better system—you might have doubled, tripled, even quadrupled your production.

You call another meeting with Marketing. “Is it possible,” you ask, “to extract the good fruit from all crates at once—then send us only the fruit that is ready for processing?”

describe the imageAnd that is the question for Marketing and Sales today.

It’s not a question of Marketing delivering too few or too many leads to sales. And it’s not a question of Sales dropping the ball.

It’s a matter of Marketing gaining the ability—through new means—to efficiently sort, identify and deliver only that fruit which is ripe and ready to eat.

2011 @Copyright Smart Selling Tools

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Topics: B2B Marketing, Marketing & Sales Alignment, B2B Sales, Increase Sales

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